Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Scoop

Here's the deal with fried underarm. The wonderful nurse cleaned the peeling skin away very gently with saline. Gooped alot of cream on and today, I can move my arm freely without feeling like the skin will tear. It's still hurts like the dickens but my patches help with that.

This whole mess is being aggravated by the filling of my right implant. As the skin is shrinking, the implant is getting pushed around. I can actually feel the edges of the thing. This hurts like it did when I first has my mastectomy. Except that my left boob isn't suffering along with the right.

I had 2 babies - I can do this, right?

We discussed after treatment depression yesterday. Dr. A mentioned that many women crash emotionally after being under the constant care of physicians for so many months. He spoke specifically to Bill about this issue. I don't plan to have depression. I remember the feeling of incredible elation after finishing chemo. A feeling of freedom to do what I wanted as soon as I was strong enough. To be lazy if I wanted to. To NOT have my life guided by doctor appointments. It may sound arrogant to say I won't be depressed. I might get scared but I realize I need to learn how to deal with being a cancer success story. I did ask Dr. A not to be offended if I come running out of his office, hooting and hollering with a big grin on my face. (I could tell he thinks I'm gonna be a basket case!)

I'll be visiting him weekly for the month after treatment finishes for TLC for my skin. After that, visits will pop out to monthly if he feels the need.

I complete 25 of 25 lymph node radiation treatments today. YAY ME!!!!!

I have 5 more treatments after that focusing on the tumor site. Straight on the front. Then I'm done, done, done!!!!! April 8th, I think.

So I'm thinking about depression, about my sisters and brothers who are struggling with this awful curse, and pondering where all of us are sitting within our battles. Moving forward always. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Ta Ta for now..

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Snap, Crackle, Pop

The skin has peeled under my arm. Came home from Mom's and pulled my shirt off. What a wonderful present. I promptly freaked and called the on-call Doc to see what to do.

The silvadene is safe to use as it's antimicrobial (like a step up from neosporin). This really hurts, like heavy duty peeling sunburn. My best guess is that I have 2 more sessions under my arm if I understand correctly. I wonder if it'll hurt even more with treatment when the skin is broken?

Dr. A was on vacation last week so I'll feel better when I see him Monday. His nurse is wonderful and she's been a peach all week, checking on me and making sure I'm okay with pain and skin. I should've been more aware about the skin under my arm since she wanted to check me after treatment yesterday. Ignorance is bliss, right? I had no idea it was going to peel.

Mom supplied a new salt shaker (thanks Mom!) and like you said Sue, I know it's gonna show up soon since there's a replacement. Murphy's law.

Got my laptop back. All I can say is yippppeeeee!

We planted lots of seeds at Poppa's. Petunias, vinca, impatiens, and a multitiude of marigolds. We also added some Sweet Williams for my own Billy :) Jackie had a cow when she realized we were leaving the little pots there in the greenhouse.

BTW, fair warning everyone. I don't like this blog setup because it doesn't give me an edit button with the new template right under each post. So I might be changing the internet wallpaper again :)

Night everyone.

APB: Missing salt shaker

Its raining and bumming me out. Not only because Steffie couldn't practice either Thursday or today but because I want to see some sunshine. We're in a water deficit here though, so I know we need the rain. I'm taking Jackie to get some seeds today. We'll be setting up our annuals for planting in a month or so. Dad doesn't know it yet, but we'll be using his greenhouse :) He'll be able to monitor the seedlings.

(He knows now though, doesn't he?)

This is the first year we've done this so we'll have to see how it goes. Last year, Jackie planted some zinnia seeds in a pot and they took off! We moved them to the gardens and had a riot of purple flowers the entire summer.

My cousin's birthday is today so we'll be heading to M&Ds for steak and cake. Easy day, I hope. Stef's going shopping with a friend so I should have some silence.

We've lost the salt shaker. Either I put it somewhere or threw it away, or Jackie confiscated it. I don't know how Jackie could have done it since she wasn't here. So I'm likely the culprit. Pretty funny that I can't remember what I do from minute to minute. Milk in the pantry, coffee in the fridge, butter someplace else. It's wacky.

Air heads, unite! Or is that untie?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'll come up with a witty title later

Hi everyone.

My patches are "patching" meaning that they are working right now. It doesn't get rid of the underarm pain, just makes me not care. It works for me.

I had blood drawn earlier this week and lo and behold, my counts were slightly low. I find this bizarre because they are considerably lower than right after chemo. However, the counts are just below the normal range so it's not a cause for concern. Can you tell I don't care too much?

In answer to Sue's post: about half way through radiation it's typical to get blood work done. What I didn't know until the vampire came at me with 2 tubes (are you reading this, Walter?) is that it's a thorough blood workup in conjunction with the regular smaller vial for counts. My guess is they're checking me for mets, but I'm not thinking about that. They're checking something or else I might get annoyed that they took so much :)

The hip and back pain is chemo "algia" something or other. I can't remember which algia it is. It's now pretty much under control, courtesy of my trusty patches. Fentanyl to the rescue. I do hope this is just a right now kind of thing. I can't be this gimpy all the time. I just don't even want to think about that.

I did find out today that they are almost done frying me to a crisp in 5 areas. 3 more treatments will be directed at the underarm, nodes and lower breast areas. The next 8 treatments after that will blast the boob directly at the tumor site. I'm at 22/25 right now for this first round of treatment. You know, I love Dr. A - he's great. And I love how he's holding true to form with all my other Docs with only telling me what I can handle at a time. It was so funny today. I think the nurse thought I was going to go postal when I heard about the additional 8 directed at the tumor site. Fentanyl doesn't make one go postal; it makes one go to sleep.

I gotta admit, I'm damn proud of myself for not needing something to calm my nerves through this whole thing. I'll give credit to Billy for that, and my girls for keeping me focused on what's important - my family.

Pancakes for dinner. Yum!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hot Magenta

Take boiled lobster and you've got a good idea of how angry red my chest is. Crispy red. What's red?

Like an apple.
Like a tomato.
Like a heart.
Like a National baseball cap.
Like a red sharpie marker.
Like a fire engine.

Red. I've decided the color will be named Hot Magenta. Hot Magenta was Stef's favorite color when she was three. She called it "Homagenttttta" and then would crack up laughing. I'm not laughing though.

Doubling up on the pain patch with the Docs blessing. Which means I won't be able to drive so I'm back to square one where I was in September. 9 more treatments to go plus Pain Patch x 2. I'm living the high life here, literally.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Drama Part 2

After a long day, I've decided I don't have the energy for drama right now. My skin's burning and itching and I'm watching Armageddon. It's fitting. If I wasn't watching this, I'd be watching Will Smith in Independence Day, frying aliens and blasting spaceships out of the sky with fighter jets and rockets.

The opinion of the radiation folks is that my bone pain isn't from the radiation (haha, that a surprise, isn't it?) They think it's the chemo and possibly the Neulasta throw in for good measure. So I see the oncologist for a blood draw with the vampires tomorrow and we'll discuss it then. For some reason, I do believe I'm gonna hear "deal with it." And of course, the proverbial 6-12 months and it'll be better. What they don't realize is that I heard the same thing when my tailbone cracked when Steffie was born. It took alot longer than 6-12 months. I'll be loving that pat on the head tomorrow. There, there bunny.

So here I sit, itching like the dickens, sore across my collarbone, the entire width of the right side of my chest, up under my armpit to the skin on the back of my arm. I do realize I had alot of issues to deal with in this area. So I'm just complaining to be dramatic. I would do this anyway if the pain and discomfort was worse. But, and this is a big BUT, I'm entitled to having my complaint department being open and broadcasting at will.

One other bit of drama before I finish this for the night. You see, the nuke has been armed in the movie and I need to watch it. Anyone tells you or anyone else that radiation doesn't completely exhaust you, they are full of it. The fatigue is unimaginable. For example, this morning I woke up with Bill at 8 a.m. and heard him rummaging around getting his shower, making lunch and coffee. Jackie woke up, went downstairs to say goodbye. I conked out again and didn't wake up until 10:30. Thank God she just got onto the computer to play on Nick Jr. Scared me to death. And bless her heart, I praised her so much for being such a big responsible girl. I never sleep in, I'm never the last person in bed. Only thing different is the radiation. So there it is.


You can bet the complaint department will be good and open tomorrow (or today) when I visit Dr. A. I'm having joint pain in my hips and upper thighs and right ankle. My lower back was so sore this morning it felt broken when I tried to get out of bed. I'm gimpy when I stand up and it takes some serious moving around before I limber up. For God's sake, I'm only 41. This gimpy stuff is for the birds.

Bill's worried enough to go to the Doc with me tomorrow. I googled this (big no no, I know) and it seems that joint pain can be a side effect of chemo and radiation. oh Joy! Just what I need.

All this crap is like baggage I don't want. I'm ready to move on here and somethings always holding me back.

On a brighter note, sometime this month is Maui the cat's birthday. So here she is, in all her 18-year old glory. She loves to be perched on the back of my chair. She likes to be treated like a princess too, as you can see by the food dish being placed conveniently near her sleeping spot.

My laptop has been in the shop for half my adult life (not really but I've got my drama on) and I should be getting it back this week. The monitor blew and it's frankly cheaper to replace the monitor than the whole laptop. My book is on there and I've been beyond inspired a number of times and unable to write because I'm missing the documents that contain my grand plan. The broken stuff in this house (not including me) is getting out of control. Bill is broke too - he needs to get into the Doc to start scheduling his hernia surgery for sometime in April.

I'm not done with the drama. The day has just begun but I'm going to bed. I'll ramp up after I sleep.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

So sore

Things aren't going well on the right arm front. Even though I had a 2 day break from radiation, I'm beyond uncomfortable. This pain on my right side is rivaling the pain right after surgery. I was worried about my little "pocket" filling with fluid again so I mentioned it to my nurse today at radiation. Dr. A checked me out and declared this whole thing a mess.

Because my implant was filled 3 weeks before radiation, my tendons and muscles haven't gotten used to the pressure. As the skin tightens from the radiation skin changes, it puts pressure agaunst the implant. So basically, the implant is being shoved around a little. It really hurts. We went on a walk last night and I couldn't even handle the regular swinging motion of my arm. Dr. A said he could see the pain on my face. I'm exhausted. Not sleeping. And when I do, for some unknown reason, I always end up on my sore side.

I'm now on a Fentanyl pain patch 24/7. God I hope this works. The idea is to low-dose me with this to try to keep me from being too loopy. And to make me more comfortable. I'm sure I don't need to tell some of my sisters and brothers in cancer about pain taking a toll. It's doing that to me.

The topical pain is still pretty bad too. I now have a cream I'm allowed to apply it twice a day. This is a step up from the Aquaphor I was using to control the itching. I did remember to ask Dr. A if I was being a drama. He said my complaints are legitimate (isn't he nice?)

They gave me flowers today - Daffodils. Such nice people.

Maryland won today. You go TERPS! I am so excited about this team. What a bunch of kids. And Gary is just a great coach. We're up against Memphis on Saturday. So much character, so much a team.

The only saving grace to this whole nightmare is that I get to watch basketball while I sit here like a princess.

*blows you all a kiss*

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Radiation cancelled

Had a slight break yesterday because the radiation machine broke. I needed a break. My rash is very pronounced and I'm very sore. Not anything new, huh?

Quiet week with my parents out of town. Had Jackie's conference yesterday. Good marks for everything across the board, except that she colors horribly. Jackie is the kind of kid who likes to do things perfect the first time. Since she doesn't like to color outside the lines, she doesn't color at all. I've told her it's how we teach our hands to be smart and do special things. She ignores that and instead tells me her hands are already smart :)

So if you hear screaming, it's coming from my house as we sit coloring when she doesn't want to. She does like to paint so maybe we could do some of that. Fine motor skills need developing, whether she likes it or not. She does write her name beautifully but we all think she'll take off if we teach her hands a little more. And of course, when she colors in the line.

My nails are a complete mess. I may have gotten through chemo without losing them and having them turn black, but boy, are they falling apart now. All of them are clipped short and are peeling, especially my thumbs. The breaks on the sides are slowly moving their way up and then the nail gets snagged on something and rips off. First aid cream to the rescue! Makes me wonder if they'll be deformed when this is over.

I was immersed in sub-Saharan culture last night helping Stef study for her social studies tests this week. She needs to ace these to pull her grade up before end of quarter at the end of the week. I think she's pulled everything up to a B except English. We'll see. I've warned her of the smackdown coming if the grades are really bad. I'm not sure what I'm going to smack her down with since she doesn't have her phone or the computer right now. A sassy mouth took those away. She's a sucker for punishment. But then, she has had alot on her plate these past few months. However, she does need to learn the lesson that you rise to adversity, not let it be an excuse. I think she's learning this.

Softball tomorrow. Stef was obsolutely horrifed when we talked about what she'd be wearing. Sweat, a t-shirt, and grubby sneakers. She told me she hadn't worn a t-shirt in ages. God help me - we'll have the first softball fashion show in history. Couple that with the pink fast pitch softball glove and we're sure to have some drama.

I did get on the fevil exercise bike for some fun and interval training. The great part was that Jackie kept resetting the bike timer and messing me up. I think I might have done 4 miles. 5 minute warm up, 1 minute on and off, fast and slower riding. But who knows, since Jackie kept pressing the button. She'd dash over, smack the button with her little finger, and run away. She's a pip!

Have a good day everyone!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Keeping myself occupied

Busy here writing articles about the NCAA tournament. It keeps the mind occupied and hopefully, the pocketbook a little more full. These articles go on "pay by click" which seems kinda fruitless but it actually isn't. Pay per click articles are "evergreen" meaning that they are good forever. A good way to develop a passive income stream.

Jackie has moved through this latest cold quickly and my hands are still surviving the onslaught of constant washing. Dry and brittle nails and chapped hands are no way to go through life (haha, right?) She's stuffy but not overly so. And well enough to be annoying with climbing all over me. Try collecting your thoughts with chemo brain and a kid using you for a tree. Multitasking isn't my strong point right now.

Steffie starts softball this week. This should be fun. She's never played a team sport before. Instead, she's danced for years but we had to skip that this year with my heavy treatment plan. Practice begins Thursday. Yay, right? I fully expect a meltdown as well as theatrics. I need to find the entire first aid kit before Thursday. She's playing with school friends for a rec league. Bill has coached men's softball for close to 25 years so he's knows the ins and outs very well. I will confess to being a little amused last night when he looked up at me and said something about needing to force himself to think of the fundamentals again. I'm thinking I might take my tailgating chair and a thermos of coffee to sit back and enjoy the fun (*insert evil laugh)

I've told myself I'm getting on the "fevil" exercise bike today. Fevil is Armand's word and I'm stealing it. I think he'll appreciate the extended use of the term. Who knows - he might end up being famous for getting it in some dictionary somewhere. 1:30 is my time. I'm doing it. For real. More than just the mile I've been doing 3-4 times a week. Seeing a pic of myself when Steffie was 7 did the trick. I'll beat the steroids and last 9 months of inactivity out of me if it's the last thing I do (how's that for drama?)

I start the second half of my radiation course today. Whoppee! I'm happy treatment is moving along but not thrilled at the condition of my skin. It's itchy and I'm not supposed to itch. Thanks, Captain Obvious but it itches! What's a girl to do? I have 3 2-inch long scars from my allergic reaction to the henna marks on my skin. Love that. It's actually symmetrical. One each on the left and right and one in the middle. Looks ridiculous. Let's mention the cross sign I have on my chest--you know, right in the area where a necklace pendant hangs? Good damn thing I gave up bikinis 5 years ago. Forget scooped necks shirts too.

Catching the sarcasm? Good. I'm annoyed again despite the appearance of tiny hairs along my eyebrows. I'll report on the condition of my eyelashes too - they aren't. No mascara since I'm trying to help them recover before Easter. This whole thing has officially turned me into a bitch. I see people with pretty hair and want to yank on it, really, really hard. The horrifying part is that I don't think it would make me happy if I manned the razor to shave these people bald.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Half Way Mark & Mom

I've reached the halfway point through radiation. While this isn't a cake walk, it's better than chemo. Actually, it is a cake walk versus chemo. I can handle the skin discomfort. My problem is that I don't want to.

I'm hydrating my chest with a cold washcloth under an ice pack. It makes me quite cold but working from the outside in is one of the ways to keep the skin from being damaged. It's amazing that I've progressed from the point of being worried about the cancer moving to being worried about my skin. How the priorities change. It lurks though, in the back of my mind.

I finally got a tiny bottle of cream for the itching skin. Only can apply once or twice a day, particularly at night to stop the itching. The concern is creating any open sores or tears on my skin.

I think this blogging thing is rather strange. It's amazing to me that the counter just ticks away with people reading this blog and I have no idea who they are. I also find it interesting that there is a core group of us who comment on each other's blogs pretty regularly. And then they are some that I read that never comment anywhere. Got to wonder if these folks are just so mired in their own pain and suffering or if they're really that self-centered in real life.

On to Mom.

She kicked butt with chemo this time and I'm taking full credit for it. She had chemo monday and I brought her lunch. On Tuesday, Dad brought her over here so I could write and babysit. Jackie and Stef were at school. She had a very peaceful, quiet day. My cats don't make nearly as much noise as her three dogs. She ate well, rested 3 times and I think this started off this recovery very well. I know I went to keep her company on Thursday at her house and I tried for 4 hours to rest. It's not easy over there at all. So, executive decision Mom - you're coming over here next time for peace and serenity :)

Kathy, you're on my mind, doll. I think you'e got the very best attitude possible about your recent mastectomy. Keep at it, use your drugs to control your pain, and look forward. You're done jumping through hoops.

Mom, you're attitude has changed with your last PET and I'm thrilled for you. You're alive, you seem happy even though I'd like to curse the fact that you're the only person who happens to look great while taking steroids :) One day at a time gets us through this.

Sheri, chemo is a nightmare but a necessary one. It's intestional, so think of it that way. Eat, please eat and drink 80 ounces of water a day. You'll have one crappy week (literally) and two good ones. You're strong in your head, and your body will get stronger. Just look at your kids and husband to give you strength. Clementine oranges work wonders, really. Just ask my mom - I turned her on to them like a drug :) BTW, your blog totally cracks my mom up. We shared a read just the other day. She thinks you're a hoot!

Props to Armand, Sue, Renee and Deb for handling your situations with humor and wit. Virtual hugs to all of you too. As silly as it sounds, I'm damn proud to "know" you all and thrilled that every single one of us is being proactive with our care.

Outta here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fear the Turtle for Real!!

Second round game won. Moving on up the conference tourney bracket.

Go Terps! We'll play the winner of the Duke/Boston College game tomorrow.

This game tonight exhausted me :)

Groundhog Day redux

Jackie is sick again. She had a fever last night and this morning.


She's a good patient but really, when will these colds be gone for good? She says her throat hurts this time. I should just fill her sippy cups with benadryl. Bill and my Dad seem to be flaring up every other week; Jackie is doing the same. The guys (I believe) are getting these colds due to stress. The sum total of Jack Jack's stress is whether the cat is being nice to her and if we have chocolate milk.

I'm completely at a loss. At least she's old enough now to give her decongestants without worrying too much.

Groundhog day strikes again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Skin changes starting

It's inevitable, I guess. But I'm not happy about it.

Add a swollen right quasi-boob to the mix of discomforts. It's swelling and pressing outward from the tightening of my skin. I can feel the upper ridge of my expander. Great fun. I noticed redness around the lymph node area below my collarbone and the skin is changing texture on my chest. Almost like the pores are widening. Oh Joy!

I'm not supposed to use any creams. Even under my armpit which is really quite uncomfortable. Resting my arm yesterday consisted of not typing but I decided to clean the living room carpet. For exercise, of course.

I sometimes wish I could just sleep through this whole thing.

I spoke to a woman at radiation today who heard me muttering about not wanting to wear a pink gown. I like the blue gowns. Anyway, we started talking and she mentioned that a few of her friends said she was basically being a drama while on chemo and that she should have recovered by now (she finished Jan 14th).

Chemo and our reactions to it are very individual. I guess what has pissed me off the most through this whole thing is simply being labeled as a "breast cancer patient" - slap a pink ribbon on me and call me done. No one has an identical treatment course, no one's reactions are the same, everything about this is individual. And I think women short change themselves when they settle for less.

I felt bad for this lady and asked her to give these chicks my phone number if they ever say anything so dumb again. I became more reasonable and finally asked her to please tell them that she'll have more compassion when they get cancer themselves. She was a sweetheart and seemed a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. I'm going to suggest she contact the health coordinator at the Hospital and take the "Look Good, Feel Better" course. I did clue her in to the Nioxin hair serum to help keep her scalp healthy until her hair grows back.

What a day.

Radiation happened after a whole day's worth of stuff and there was still more in the afternoon. I'll give you all the breakdown, just because you're my captive audience :)

My day started at 7:45 with a door bell ringing...

Mom arrives for babysitting (chemo was yesterday)
Make coffee, Bill's lunch, visit with Mom and Bill, Jackie awake
Feed screaming young and old kitty cats
Shower, get Jackie ready and take her to school
Home, coax Mom into nap
Write for a hour
Feed screaming old kitty cat
11 a.m. frantic phone call from Steffie at school (dropped water bottle all over herself - soaking wet - needs change of clothes)
Drive to school with clothes
Return home
Write for 45 minutes
Feed me and Mom awesome Velveeta Mac and Cheese shells for lunch
Write for another hour
Drive to radiation
Get X-rays and radiaton treatment
Drive to Dunkin Donuts for celebratory coffee (we don't need a reason to get coffee)
Drive to get Steffie from school
Return home
Feed screaming old kitty and young kitties
Mom naps and I write
Drive to get Jackie from school
Return home
Feed old kitty again
Bill comes home.
Dad comes to get Mom
Eat dinner
Feed old kitty again (she only gets a tablespoon at a time to help her keep it down)

I did no laundry today. I did no dishes (mom did them). I didn't make dinner. I wrote 6 articles. And I cleaned up cat poop from Clyde sticking his butt out of the kitty box during his morning constitutional. He's a complete failure as a cat, except for when he wants to scratch something. Imagine your highest maintenance friend and you've got Clyde in a nutshell.

That was it. And I'm exhausted.

Off to bed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Resting the arm again

Not writing today but instead, resting my arm and keeping mom company during chemo. Jackie and I will be her personal assistants.

Maybe some would be appalled at me taking my girl to see my mom at chemo. I feel it's an important part of her learning and understanding how to be compassionate. We've told her that mommy and Mimi have inside boo boos that need special medication (medis is what Jackie calls it). She knows that it gets put into the port and that we feel icky for about a week. She's a gentle thing and simply snuggles close.

In fact, every time I had chemo and was just splayed out on the sofa, she'd tuck up next to me and place her hand on my head, back or shoulder. Just like a little kitty snuggling her mommy cat.

Anyway, back to Jackie going to chemo. We've tailored down our explanations to compensate for her age and of course, she hasn't seen my chest. She knows that Mommy has been very sick. I don't think she registers the seriousness of it but that's fine. Steffie seems to have put that out of her mind. For that, I'm glad. No kid should have to be consumed with worrying about whether Mommy is going to live or die. Steffie asked to see my incisions and helped me immensely right after surgery. She's a tough cookie, my kid. I pray Jackie is the same way.

Off to make lunch for Mom.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

In the doghouse

I know I'm so in the doghouse tomorrow when I go for radiation. Monday is the day that Dr. A checks out the patients and he measures the swelling of my arm. Lucky me. It's swelling so much the skin is starting to feel tight.

It's a conundrum.

One doc says don't baby it and the other says act like a princess. What am I supposed to do? It's a good thing I'm not doing radiation in the summer because Dr. A would be really upset when I mow the lawn. GOod thing he wasn't around for the leaf blower or I would've been in big trouble over that.

I could never be a real princess. I don't imagine that princesses clean cars, do groceries, or straighten up the garage. It was 70 degrees outside. Way too nice to be inside being a princess.

Jackie stole my ice bag (she likes to put it on her head). I need to ice my arm and elevate it which won't be easy because I have a ton of writing to do. I'm with Mom tomorrow for chemo so I may just do a ton of research and then write up there at the hospital. That works if all the planets align and Jackie gives me some peace.

I hate the time change. I know it's better this way but losing an hour really messes me up.

Not too tired yet from radiation. I'm 1/3 done and truckin' along. 10 session out of 30. It's going fast. Walked 2 miles yesterday with Bill and Jackie and it felt good to be out moving. My back is extremely sore but that seems to be mostly from the table I have to lay on every day of the week. It's like a perma-crick in the back.

I finally gave up on my nails cracking along the Mees lines and clipped every single one short. It was getting way too painful with them cracking way down the quick. Chemo made my nails grow so fast and they're still doing that but I can't handle how bad my fingers hurt when another one cracks. Hopefully, this will keep pain to a minimum. I just need to remember to keep them clipped. Maybe I can clip mine when I clip the cat's nails so I won't forget? I wonder how long it will takes for these ridges to grow out? Six little horizontal lines on every nail...

I'm done. Hitting the sack and I'll start fresh tomorrow.


Voodoo Doll Update

We didn't have to have the Saturday Voodoo doll extermination ceremony. Seems Aunt Pat decided to contact the lady who owned the doll originally. This lady said she'd meet Pat to take the doll from her.

So Pat puts the doll in a metal box, then into the trunk and drives about 30 miles to meet her. Upon getting there, the lady takes the doll out of Pat's trunk, unwraps the white cloth, and proceeds to have a talk with the doll. Things along the lines of whether the doll has been behaving, etc.

Glad I wasn't there.

Then she proceeds to place the doll on the front seat of her car (like a passenger) and off she goes. I'm surprised she didn't hook the seatbelt.

Voodoo crisis is over :) No public land set on fire, my Dad hasn't been arrested, and his God credit checkbook seems to still be in good shape.

Fruits and nuts in this world :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eyebrows, lashes, Katie's Birthday and VoodooDolls, in no particular order

Today has been eventful. For alot of reasons. Let's begin with the brows and lashes. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to let you know that even months after you finish chemo, the demeaning effects will continue. Long after you've gotten your last dose of juice, your body will still be doing things against your will. Case in point, eyebrows and lashes. I went through all of chemo and now I'm 6 weeks out (jan. 20 last dose) and lo and behold, NOW I'm losing my brows and lashes. I have peach fuzz hair on my head, I hate warm hats, am having hot flashes, and the only thing that's kept me sane in my lashes and brows. This is really pissing me off. So now I get to look forward to looking 100 percent like shit without even mascara and eyeliner to save me. Lucky me.

Why does this happen? Because chemo kills those cells that grow the slowest last, i.e., the lash and brow cells. And while I might be acting a little wretched because these treatments are supposed to be saving my life, right now I feel like complaining. I've put up with alot and there's more to come. I keep hoping to dig myself out of this quicksand.

On to voodoo dolls.

Our dear friend Aunt Pat has one in her possession. And Pat wants rid of the thing. Apparently, you need to wrap these things in a white cloth and place the doll inside a metal container to trap it's bad aura. Needless to say, the doll has been out of it's wrapping for the last year for some unknown reason. The original owner left this thing with Pat (I think to get rid of it easily).

Pat's determined to dispose of it.

Enter me and Mom. Pat springs this on us today at breakfast. "Help me get rid of this thing." For whatever reason, some people choose to believe these things or at least, be afraid of what they don't understand to garner a healthy respect for it. So our task is to investigate how to get rid of the voodoo doll. No problem. Just google, right?

I call Bill with this story and he concludes that none of us are allowed to touch the doll. We don't need any more bad luck or the perception of it. Bill has a healthy respect for the unknown, having seen a ghost in Hawaii with his brother in law. His Dad also lives in a haunted house on the northern neck but that's a story for another time.

Back to the Voodoo doll.

VoodooMama's website has all the details of how to get rid of a voodoo doll and guess what? The site also sells a Voodoo Doll Disposal Kit for $14.95. Yay! Nope. Pat decides this needs to be done tomorrow because the bad luck is getting out of control. Scratch VoodooMama's disposal kit. Not enough time.

So how does one get rid of a Voodoo doll? All you need is a site on consecrated ground to dig a hole, the doll wrapped in a white cloth, matches, Holy Water, and sage candles. The idea is to dig the hole, put the wrapped doll into it and set it on fire. When it's completely burned, sprinkle Holy Water on the ashes and bury it completely. Then you go home, bathe completely, and take the rest of the holy water and bathe in that too. Burning the sage candles in the four corners of your home helps cleanse the home. Oh yea, it has to happen on a Saturday too.

I want to add at this point that this is not an ordinary voodoo doll but instead, one bought from a serious practitioner in Jamaica. As in chickens-hanging-from-the-ceiling real. This lady made the doll and sprinkled all kinds of herbs and what not all of it. And instructed Pat to keep this thing in a metal box. Pat was purchasing this thing for a friend. A friend who left the thing with Pat because she probably read VoodooMama's site a realized this stuff isn't easy.

Our biggest problem was (note past tense) getting enough Holy Water to do this for Pat. She was speaking to her sister (who's conveniently 3 hours away) and she says "You're surrounded by Catholics so just have them get some for you." Not as easy as it sounds. This is a job for Poppa. We all agree on this. Mom calls me and asks me to explain this to him.

So I do. And he busts my chops on everything I say. I guess I may have started with the VoodooMama site and worked my way through a very roundabout explanation. Suffice it to say, he deadpanned on everything I said and then mentioned that he was just talking to someone at work about how he's surrounded by a bunch of crazy women.

As I mentioned various aspects of this "ceremony," I told him that we planned to burn and bury the doll in the woods behind the neighbors house. Pop then says he thinks its great that I'm trying to get him arrested for setting public land on fire. He's friends with the local fire station guys so I just asked him to tell them what we were doing and invite them to help. If he could've crawled through the phone to strangle me, he might have!

I got to the part of the Holy Water and asked him if he'd get it for Pat. Poppa states that he thinks stealing Holy Water from a church to have a ceremony to dispose of a Voodoo doll might violate his credit report with God. I'm howling at this point. Then I ask him to talk to Father so he doesn't have to be dishonest. We both concluded that Father would have all of us in for counseling if we approached him with out request.

I've mentioned on this blog before that's he's a drama and my girls come by it quite honestly. He comes in the door today and promptly rolls his eyes at me. But then he doesn't take off his suit, stuffs a plastic container in his jacket, intending to go up and get some water. Remember that he's had an hour or so home from DC to plan his approach. He didn't let me in on it though so I'm worrying about his God credit account (as Steffie calls it) and him being arrested.

I head out to take my girls home and call him about 15 minutes later to ask him, simply between us two, to fill the bottle from the faucet and just say it's Holy Water. Lo and behold, he had already been to church, filled the bottle and returned home.

Now I'm worrying that Father has video cameras installed in the church :)

It's our Katie's birthday today - the big 19. Happy Happy Kate!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fear the Turtle - Here's Why

This one is for Sue :)

I dredged my brain for the reason why University of Maryland's mascot is a turtle. I came up empty. Enter good old wikipedia!

Maryland's state reptile is the diamondback terrapin. Duh! Testudo, our mascot, came to life in 1932 after Curly Byrd (football coach at the time) requested students to come up with a new mascot. And Testudo was born.

Diamondback terrapins are endangered due to overhunting for delicacies such as turtle soup (token dumb joke from visiting schools). They range far and wide from Florida to Cape Cod. Lady turtles can grow to 9 inches and the gentlemen turtles tend to be about 5 1/2 inches. This is called being sexually dimorphic (some bird and ducks do this too--sexes within the species are different sizes, colors, etc.)

On with the minutae...

The first bronze Tesudo statue was unveiled by a real live turtle. The Story:

On May 23, 1933, Testudo was unveiled to the world. The live terrapin used as a model had a ribbon attached to it, which was in turn attached to the canvas covering the sculpture. And as the smaller terrapin struggled forward, Testudo was revealed for the first time.

Testudo has seen some rough times with kidnappings and such. He's a hearty soul and has managed to survive many trips off campus. There are now 3 Testudo bronze statues; one located in front of McKeldin Library, one at Byrd Stadium, and another gracing the front of Comcast Center, the Basketball arena.

At first, Testudo had his perch in front of Ritchie Coliseum. Unfortunately, this relatively open spot soon became the scene of multiple crimes against the unguarded mascot, including painting, defacing the pedestal, and kidnapping. In 1947, when Testudo was captured by Johns Hopkins students, many Maryland students rushed to Baltimore and laid siege the building where the mascot was held. Even though 200 police were called to control the riot, the "siege" quickly turned into a party.

Soon after, Testudo was again snatched from his perch. Two years later, Byrd, now president of the University, received a call from a University of Virginia fraternity telling him to please get Testudo off their lawn.

With Testudo safely recovered, he was hidden in a campus carpentry shed until 1951. It had become apparent that greater security measures were needed to protect him. George O. Weber, Director of Physical Plant at College Park, and Class President for the Class of 1933 was determined to protect the campus mascot. So Testudo was filled with 700 pounds of cement and attached to his new perch in front of Byrd Stadium with long steel rods and hooks. While this put a stop to the terrapin-napping, painting was still a problem, especially by Johns Hopkins students. During one episode, Maryland students caught some Hopkins students in the act and promptly shaved their heads.

We all rub Testudo's nose before game time for good luck :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's really annoying

Annoying is having to be in the same place, on the same table, in the same room, in the same position for 15 minutes every day. This radiation is, as my kids say, "boring." And uncomfortable. I'm changing up the times of my appointments when I can to add great levels of spice and variety to my life. Just for grins and giggles.

My arm is sore. I can't tell if it's from the swelling or radiation but it hurts. Need to ice that! My ice pack is sitting in the kitchen and I'm sitting in my chair. Too bad it can't fill itself up. Can you tell I'm feeling lazy?

I wrote 16 articles in the last 24 hours to have some kind of a paycheck this week. My brain if burning out. I want to do something else!!

I need a break so I'm planning to surf perez hilton to see if there celebrities are up to anything good today. Hopefully, they won't annoy me too.


MD lost tonight...

..and Jamie Luckie, the ref from hell, was true to form. He must've been born in North Carolina or something. Please explain a 2 to 17 foul discrepancy. 2...that's not a typo! He missed a technical on Wake, called a foul on us when a Wake player tripped on his own feet. Even the Wake faithful are saying it was a terrible call. It was a game momentum changing call and Jamie Luckie was completely at fault.

This wasn't a must-win game but it would've been a great win for our resume.

I hope Jamie Luckie gets gross indigestion when he has breakfast in the morning. He cannot retire fast enough. I hope his dentures fall into the toilet and that the soles of his shoes wear out while he's here in Maryland and he steps in a pile of cold snow. No, make that ice. And I hope his socks get wet too.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Not being enough of a princess

Or so says my radiation doc.

Apparently, shoveling snow is a no-no when one is undergoing radiation.

It wasn't heavy snow and I just pushed it off the driveway. I love shoveling snow. And I do know I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds. My arm (and it's recurrent lymphedema) feels so much better when I use it.

So I got a lecture yesterday. I actually asked him if he was kidding. And I pretty much let him know I can't be a princess all the time. Sorry, life goes on even during radiation, recovering from chemo, etc...

No skin changes yet although I do feel an occasional ache way inside. I don't think I like the expanded implant much because it has aggravated my swelling. I'm supposed to slap a cold, wet washcloth on my chest a couple times a day to ease the swelling. Yea right. I do it in the shower with the front of me freezing and the back of me nice and toasty warm :) The cold does make it feel better and I've been icing my arm and chest a few times a day. I'd rather do that than take pills for pain.

I need to get my fanny in gear and start writing. We've all either been sick all weekend or fighting off a cold (like me).

Get this - I graduated to Tylenol. I can actually take an over the counter drug. Take a picture!! No Advil yet as the doc is rather worried about my continual upset tummy. More worried than I am about it, obviously. I figure the cells in my intestines are rather peeved at me right now from the chemo. I would be too, if I were them :)

Love my docs but boy, do they worry!!

Maryland plays Wakeforest tonight in a very important game to possibly (pray!) get into the NCAA tourney. Please everyone, for me, wear RED today for good karma :)

Love ya!