Day 2 – completed – onto Day 3

Everything went well yesterday – I had the tube in my right arm.  I tried drawing, but I kept pulling on the line, so I gave up drawing and turned on my Kindle.  I watched the rest of Inception – the longest time shot of a van careening off a bridge EVER – but for a good reason.  Really an excellent movie.  Then is was Training Day with Denzel Washington – love the way he calls people, “Dog.”

Tomorrow I have company – my Uncle Ed is being brought up from Lakewood by his son, Ed, to visit with me.  I hope he’s not too scared at my appearance.  Ah, well, it’s not my facade he is coming to see.

I was touched yesterday by how many people come to chemo alone and with nothing to do.  One business woman brought her laptop and worked the entire time typing.  She had headphones, so maybe she was listening to music while she worked.  She had wonderful long hair and stylish-expensive looking clothes and shoes.  She didn’t smile as she looked at me – probably didn’t even SEE me.

Another woman was calling for the nurse all the time – her shoe fell off, she needed another blanket, she felt bad (good reason to call the nurse) – she tried using her phone, but no one answered her calls – she seemed so lonely.  You know how you want to reach out, but you know it’s more than you can handle at the time – well, that was me – she kept looking at me – not starting any conversation, but waiting for me – and I couldn’t.  It just didn’t seem like a good idea.

Another woman came in and she was alone also.  Mike said he felt bad – she kept looking over at us – I have two visitors – Mike was reading and so was Donna.  And she was alone and doing nothing but staring around the room.

There are people who have visitors come with them.  Older couples and some women friends or sisters.  Wonder how it all works out.  If companionship helps or hinders?  Hinders because the patient is trying to please the companions?  Being alone lets you set your own course – but being alone is not a picnic.  I don’t know what I would do without “my team” or friends to check in – they mean so much to me.

Well, Day 3 is about to begin.  Wish me luck, my dragons!

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Day 1 – completed!

Back into the chemo sessions – first day went okay – I watched a movie on my Kindle – the first day is the longest as I have two meds to take – one large bag and one small bag – first one is an hour and five minutes and the other is 35 minutes – but it takes an hour to set up and get the drugs mixed fresh in the pharmacy – so three hours is the minimum time – more if you have to wait if the pharmacy is busy.

But they give you a comfy chair, heated blankets, soft drinks to make your comfortable.  I was looking around yesterday and all kinds of people are getting different meds. My doctor told me that these two chemo drugs he’s giving me are really good fighters against the cancer I have.  Go get those tumors, chemo.

So the movie I watched was Inception.  Maybe all the chemo is happening in a level of a dream – yeah.  I could see that.  But whose wicked dream is this?  Never in a million years, I thought I would get cancer. Never did I know so many people suffered it – I did know though.  My family history was filled with cancer, but either I was too young to know what really it was or I was away – get-outa-town-early person that I was.

You could easily buy that you cause your own cancer by your lifestyle and by what you eat.  Sure, I made bad choices in my life – but overall, except for the Coke Company addiction to their sodas…oh, and potato chips, oh and all those processed meat Italian subs and cheesesteaks…NO…don’t do that.  I enjoyed every one of those comfort foods.  See?  How easy it is to blame yourself?

I’ve got too much going on in my head to take this one on, so I am not.  My surgeon looked at me when I asked him how I got this tumor in my uterus.  He said, “Dumb luck.”  I’m sticking with that.  Too much worrying about the past is NOT helping me look toward the future, however much longer that is – but it’ll be creative and as much fun as I can have.  So there!

On to Chem session 2 today – one large bag and I am out – until tomorrow.  The movie for today?  Training Day with Denzel Washington – I love him when he’s a bad guy.

Yay! Wait, um, yay????

Just got the blood results back – my white blood cell count is to 6.0 – up from 2.9 (good threshold is 3.5).  The shots worked to raise my blood count.  Now I can have chemo – yes, I can have chemo – poison running through me killing all the new cells – cancer and other ones too – so that’s a good thing?  It is really.

Oh, I am back to the chemo sessions and more shot sessions because you know the blood count will go down when the chemo starts battling it.  So it’s kinda a wow-great-the-shots-worked, so I can do chemo.  My body is going to be so confused.

But hopefully this round (three days in a row for chemo and four days in a row with the shots) will go smoothly.  The last round was tolerable – I was tired mostly and achy.  Whatever it is – it will be.  It won’t define me.

Not advertised

I didn’t realize that I would have to give so much up when I was diagnosed.  I thought, hey, this cancer and I are on equal footing – I’ll give it a run for its money.  But you’re thinking that as a well person.

Before you give up your freedom, your dignity and your plans – little and big.  It creeps in slowly – you give other people power of your well-being – like medications you have to take, medical processes, indignities such as constipation and bone pain (no stories, don’t worry), looking for your favorite soft shoes or those fluffy black socks that keep your feet oh so warm (because other people are now doing what you can’t, like laundry, cooking, shopping) and you love them for it, but it’s unnerving.  My team is working hard and sometimes, I don’t make it easy for them.

I know I am not a good patient – I want to rage against the machine when I really only have the energy to take a nap.

It’s a bitch being without power – well, the power you always had – but a new power is in the works and I am working on it.  Power over/with living with cancer is going to be mine.  Getting through this chemo phase is job 1.  (and of course the added shots to make my white blood count higher), so bear with me.

More not so fun stuff

My doctor postponed my  chemo sessions this week – my white blood cell count is lower than it should be.  Just so I don’t feel left out, he prescribed some shots in a series to boost my body into making white blood cells.

Now, if you know me, I went straight to the internet and looked up the drug – shouldn’t have done that.  Really, do they have to list ALL the side effects?  Exploding spleen, extreme bone pain, fever, oh do not let me go on.  But so far, so good.  And as they say (and DID say thins morning), we have a pill for that – well, maybe not the spleen thing, but everything else is covered.

This injection was in a new part of oncology where I hadn’t been before – halls of rooms filled with pouches of undetermined stuff – IV stands – names I could not pronounce – everyone is so nice there – but I get curious about what they are doing.  I have the right.

But the bright part was I finally found a book in the free cancer patient take a book home library.  I read the first chapter when Mike was in Target getting some stuff – I waited in the car.  Stunning mystery from the get-go.  Let the side effects come on in – I have a new book to read – a REAL-HOLD-IN-THE-HAND book.

Fun and some not so fun stuff

I’ve been doing some traveling – we went to IKEA, had wonderful Swedish meatballs, great “stuff” (yes, I do need that sheepskin rug…Winter is Coming), to the Sacramento Food Co-op, to the Lincoln Beerman Plaza to see murals and finally to the Sunshine Deli and the Folsom Sanctuary Zoo.  Phew!  I slept all day yesterday – we spread those visits over a week and I still was tired.  But that is ok – that are what beds are for – nice restful sleep.

Go to the Sacramento Co-op – prices are a bit scary for those of us not members, but it’s better than Whole Foods for selection of good healthy foods.  We bought some non-gluten bread and some non-dairy ice cream (yes, there is Coconut Milk Chocolate in my fridge).

Not so fun?  I woke up to losing my hair – strands and strands until they formed a nice little bird’s nest.  (no, I am not putting that out there in the tress).  I never liked my hair – my sister and brothers’ hair is jet black and thick – mine, brown and thin – never really liked it until I grew it long in the 60s – just pull it back and wear a hat.  When Joe died, I was in menopause and the stress made it thinner and thinner.

I was always embarrassed by my hair – it’s getting back at me through the cancer drugs.  Being it wasn’t falling out, I was hoping I’d be “saved” but sadly no.  Bring on the hats – knit hats, Amish straw hats, apache bands – or maybe I should shave it with a big C on the side and back.  I have wigs also – they are hot in the summer, but Winter is Coming.  What I don’t like about them is that they are wonderfully thick, brilliant color – youthful bounce and then there is this face – 71+- drying out and wrinkled – I earned every one, so I am not complaining – just sad that an era is passing.  Some people say it grows back – in what kind of time frame?  oh, bother – does it matter?  I have my hats.

Genetics

I had a telephone appointment with Genetics at Kaiser this morning.  I wanted to ask all of my relatives in the cousin range if they have had some sort of cancer.  Father and mother’s side for me – so if you’ve had some cancer, please let me know and I can let the genetics people know.

I have a rare cancer and they are interested in it being hereditary – they don’t know of course, but they are looking into it.  I have an endocrine endometrial carcinoma cancer.  It usually presents in the lung, but in mine, it was in the uterus.

I gave them the run down on my Mom’s sisters and brothers, but I didn’t know if any cousins had cancer.  Let me know – maybe we can help out future generations.  All confidential – send to jan.lopez@gmail.com

Thanks!

Bowels and other things

Just kidding – for those of you still reading, I had a good weekend – getting stronger – having an appetite! – walking and I had some great visitors.

My friend, Gretchen, came up to visit.  We sat out on the patio in the breeze talking – it is amazing the small stuff that becomes most important in your life.  Gretchen is my goddess who typed my first term paper when I went back to college when I was 40.  Nervous as hell, hoping I could make the cut – I didn’t have a typewriter when my first paper became due.  Only one of the things she’s done for me over the years.  When Joe died, she stepped in and handled bank stuff, legal papers, etc.  She is a giving person and it felt good to be in her company again.

On sunday, David and Joyce came over – bringing food!!!  I’ve entered a phase when food does make a difference for energy and survival.  I seem to be tolerating the treatment pretty well – so now in between sessions, I need to build up my immune system.  And Joyce has been working on recipes that taste good and with good stuff in them – you start missing all your favorites, like sweets and breads – and chemo changes how you taste too.  So Joyce came up with some really excellent pumpkin breads and apple muffins.  We are working on getting a schedule going for dinners too.

I made a card for Uncle Ed too.  Today I am going to a meeting about palliative care.  Just to see what options are there when and if I need them.  Doing pretty good right now – as long as I stay in the Be Here Now range.  Good advice no matter what.

Through it all of it is my sister, making tea, patting me on the head and giggling about absolutely nothing – exactly what I need when I need it.

Day three

One word:  fatigue.  I even slept under a heated blanket for most of the time while getting the medicine.  I imagine this is one of the side effects.  Body is trying to repair itself.  Sorry body, but you shouldn’t have let that cancer in.

My surprise team member, my sister, Donna, was here today to get me through.  It is so great to have her here – we can giggle – when I am not exhausted.  and everyone needs a giggles.

Mike’s been great, making sure I have my proper meds, the right food on time and just all around great guy – but you knew all that.  I heard from some people this week.  Scott Forrest sent me a photo of a cheese steak Mike and I ate when we were in Claymont, DE.  If that didn’t kick-start my appetite, nothing will!  Thanks for the thought.

short piece tonight still tired.  Sweet dreams everyone and don’t forget to find the moon and thank her.