Friday, February 22, 2008

I Love Friday nights!!

Back in the day I might have loved Friday nights for the first opportunity of the weekend to stay up late and party. I still believe Friday nights are the beginning to the weekend, but alas, as an old fart I love Friday nights because it's the first opportunity to rest and lie like broccoli. In my warped Puritan view, daytime Friday is productive because it is a workday, which makes Friday night's slackness so much sweeter and deserving. And there's something about knowing the following day is "my time" to send me into an even deeper joy over Friday nights. To top this one off, it is snowing outside, a perfect excuse to hunker and seal myself off from the world's stresses. Hooray for Friday! Hooray for the weekend! Guess where I'm NOT going tomorrow? That's right - radiation - all the way in freakin' Bath. I figured out today that I am spending $10 per day in fuel just to go to radiation, and that's in the 30-38 mpg car. I hate dropping that kind of cash on an environmental hazard.

While I was south for radiation, I popped over to the chemo treatment center to have my blood work done there for a change. It was close by and we could cut out the unreliable middle man known as Pen Bay. My white count was 4.2, red count normal, and my INR (blood coag) was 2.3, within range. They had me wait for these results out back in the chemo lounge. I wanted to protest this arrangement, feeling anxious about being back in the familiar sights and smells, but I was also curious. I'm pleased to say I was totally fine. I was in a completely different place as an "outsider". I spoke with the nurse who had made me vomit just because she stood beside me doing her job of hooking up my drugs. She was worried the sight of her would make me sick again! I tested my boundaries and forced myself to scan the room to see all the current chemo patients. No gastric activity. I guess not all of my memories there are bad ones.

Happy Friday night and may you have an enjoyable weekend ahead of you. Mine will be filled with baths, tea, and movies (and a little work, I must confess, but under restful conditions).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Radiation Update

A little birdie told me I was due for a post. Overdue, I say. It has been a rough week so far, but the good news is that tomorrow I will be halfway done with rads. Actually, I only have one more week of neck and armpit rads, and the last week is concentrated on just the biggest guy in my chest.

The first week of radiation was a breeze. The hardest part was, and still is, the commute. I drive an hour and change on a two lane road, inevitably getting behind pokey puppies, for a less than 10 minute treatment. Then, I am back on the road for home. And this is EVERYDAY! I already spend a lot of time driving my car for work, now this. My second home has become my Volvo! I swapped cars with Dennis these past couple days for something different. On the other hand, I have discovered a fantastic sandwich place in Wiscasset. Yumm.... I look forward to stopping there on my drive home. Whatever gets us through, right? Someone had suggested I get a book on tape. I always complain that I don't have enough time to read, so this could be a silver lining. Read any good books lately that have such a compelling story they won't become just background noise while my mind wanders? Therein lies my problem with books on tape.

Just this week I have been feeling the effects of the radiation more and more. My skin is red and tight like a sunburn. Every night I apply this gel which has the consistency of grease to my chest. Yesterday the doctor said I'd start to feel a sore throat and will get a cough. He meant any day now as today, my throat is sore when swallowing. I still eat anything I want, and everything. I am hungry all the time! Sadly, I will have to cool it on the spicy food for awhile. I love it so much, but eating it makes my chest burn. Then, there's the fatigue. One of the rads technicians commented that I looked tired today. It's visible and detectable in my voice how tired I am, just ask sister. Like I said before, it's not the debilitating kind of fatigue. Just the "man, I need a nap" kind of fatigue. The RN Cindy explained that I'll have only so much energy that I can either spend all at once, or gradually, but then I'll have to take it easy for awhile to recharge the batteries. Because I'm continuing to work, the weekends will be my time to recharge. I'll be laying low on weekends, making as few plans as possible, avoiding obligations, being a homebody. Doesn't bode well for my raging social life (sentence is dripping with sarcasm). I find drinking tea and taking baths are great "recharging" activities.

The new diet is going very well. We have hit upon some fantastic new dishes and some lackluster ones too. The winners are curried chickpeas with tofu and coconut basmati brown rice, black bean soup, gingered greens with tofu, miso sauce with steamed veggies, garlic and rosemary potatoes, and red lentil soup. We are eating fish, chicken, and a little red meant too. I've discovered I'm not a fan of Swiss chard. The taste makes me think of horse barn for some reason. My body is craving sugar. I think I am going through withdrawals, but like the cheating smoker, I don't make it any easier on myself because I have a little bit here and there, just so I continue to want more. I probably should just cut the sweets cold turkey because I am an addict.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day Baby

I received some exciting news yesterday. My friends Jeff and Kathrina had their baby boy at approximately 7 am on Valentine's Day. Her due date was actually February 14th. Pretty good for a first baby. I've been told babies are often born during storms. Something about the low pressure gives them added incentive to come on out. True to the theory, Kathrina started contractions Wednesday night, the day of a nasty snow/ice/rain storm. Eight hours later in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day, Felix Perrill Scher came into this world. Kathrina was very brave and birthed o'natural. She said there was a whole lot of screaming (right in Jeff's ear. Poor Jeff.), and it felt like it would never end. In hindsight, though, she says "it wasn't too bad. It could have been worse." I've posted a couple of the photos Jeff sent in an email of the little bundle of joy.

On Wednesday, I went to get blood drawn for another check of blood thickness. They had a tough time tapping a vein. Four pokes by three people and finally we were in business. My number was 1.1 again, same as pre-surgery, even though I went back on Coumadin and the Lovenox shots for three days post surgery. And so, they wanted me to get it checked again today and it is 2.1 now, within the range we're looking for. This game of "how thick is my blood now?" is fun and all, but I want to know when it will end. I keep checking my right arm and I think it's gone down with the port removed, but sometimes I think it hasn't, and it definitely still has not shrunk to left arm size. My plan if the right arm never gets back to original size is to have the left arm meet it halfway with a little weight training, left side only. Yea, that should work.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Maine Democratic Caucus & Radiation Begins

Sunday was the Maine Democratic Caucus. I was shocked to learn we caucused in Maine. I've been voting for 14 years in Maine. How is it I have never caucused before? I thought we were a primary state because I KNOW I have voted in a primary before. I distinctly remember voting for Howard Dean in 2004. At any rate, I was off to my town hall at 2pm for my first ever caucus.

It was a healthy gathering of 75 Democrats with standing room only. Apparently it was the most attended caucus ever, probably because people like me never knew we caucused in this state until now. I was thinking it would take half hour to do this caucusing thing, but it actually took over 2 hours! I brought Sadie based on my assumption it was going to be quick. She was a trooper, though, waiting in the car. Luckily it was quite warm on Sunday.

We had to elect party officials and election clerks and pass by-laws. Ugh! This ate up 45 minutes in of itself! No one wanted these jobs, so with a little pressure and unanimous votes every time, one by one the positions were filled. Finally, we got to the good stuff. In our tiny room, we physically separated ourselves into left side for Obama, right for Clinton, front of the room for uncommitted. It was 39 for Obama, 30 for Clinton, and 6 uncommitted. The uncommitted group was too small to get a delegate, so they had the option after discussion to join a side. You could see the demographic supporting each candidate. Hilary's side was majority female. Any of the young folks at the caucus were on the Obama side, including me. Men seemed to be with Obama.

Then, the floor was opened up for comments. This was when things got interesting, and lengthy. The two points I heard coming from the Clinton camp was her experience and health care. They were also skeptical that Obama could actually change "the machine" - our current political system. Hilary has more experience with "the machine". The Obama side liked his stance against the war from the beginning and how he inspires hope for a the kind of America we dream about. At least Obama is willing to TRY to fundamentally change "the machine". I gave him my vote for this reason.

This part could have gone on forever. Before comments became heated and personal, our convener suggested we call for a recount, at which point anyone who wished to change sides could (no one did) and our six uncommitted could choose a candidate. All six of them chose Clinton. So, the final count including three absentee ballots for Obama came to 36 Clinton, 42 Obama. South Thomaston has four delegates to send to the state convention, and we'll be sending two for each candidate. If the undecided group was big enough to be considered viable, they could have sent an delegate for the candidate Undecided. Crazy.

Anyway, that was Sunday's news and it's Tuesday. Radiation has begun. I'm already sick of the drive after two days. Also, what has struck me is how I feel after the treatment already. The nurse said I would probably sail through the first two weeks, so I wasn't expecting to feel anything for two weeks. Well, I notice a "hot" chest immediately, like a sunburn, that gradually subsides. I also notice I am tired afterward. Not like the fatigue I had with chemo where I couldn't even muster energy to cook, read, walk, etc. I muster energy to run errands, dog walk, and otherwise push through my day, but I'm really wanting a nap. It very well might be driving two hours each day that makes me tired, not so much the zapping. I almost didn't go to yoga last night I was so tired from the day, but I'm glad I did. That helped to reenergize me. I guess I need to do all my heavy exercise and brainy work in the mornings. It's not going to be Tuesdays I look forward to anymore, but Saturdays instead.

Friday, February 8, 2008


We tied up loose ends today before starting radiation therapy on Monday. First, I had to go back down for another simulation after the first set of blocking was not mounted correctly to effectively block my throat. This time we had success. I may end up with two more tattoos. At this rate, if I wanted to make "real" tattoos out of them I could have quite the butterfly collection with a good representation of the various species.

Next, we went to the hospital to be deported! My INR number was 1.2 this morning and he said he wanted it under 2 to do the procedure. Last Friday, it was 3.5. I stopped taking Coumadin Thursday and ate all the leafy greens I had. Leafy greens are high in Vitamin K which thickens your blood. I even had scrambled eggs with kale this morning (actually very good). Whatever worked, worked, and I was able to get the port out this afternoon. It went very smoothly. There was no IV or anesthesia this time, just local novocain. Local only made me a bit nervous, so I popped a couple Ativan beforehand. As far as I was concerned, he was still slicing into my chest. The familiar loopyness kicked in and I chatted with the doc the whole time. He told me he was taking his family to Sunday River and his son wanted to learn to snowboard. I tried to make a deal with him that I would teach his son how to ride if he'd let me out on the mountain. Unfortunately, that didn't fly.

For the next three days, I am injecting my stomach with the Lovenox twice a day and going back on Coumadin. If my right arm shrinks back to normal size, I may only have to be on the Coumadin for a month. It'll be longer if it is stubborn.

I'm planning on a quiet weekend of watching movies, seeing friends, and my one project of gussying up our dining room table.
Hope you all have a great weekend too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's Like Spongebob Squarepants, but different

My head itches! A sure sign that my hair is making it's encore appearance. We can see that it's starting to fill in too. I don't look AS bald. The quote of the day is, "Soon you'll be Candace Normalhair ... which is like Spongebob Squarepants, but different." a la Dennis Gallant. Thanks for making me laugh sweetie. Huh, the computer is saying "squarepants" one word is NOT misspelled, but "normalhair" one word is. Just wait until "Candace Normalhair" becomes a wildly popular cartoon series and we'll see about that.

Today I take a step forward on the new path. It's a mix of rain, freezing rain, and snow today to make me crazy on my first day driving an hour to treatment. I am going alone since I'm actually not getting radiated today. It's just a dry run. Then I'm going to see Dr. Hottie, I mean Dr. Curtis, the surgeon about port removal. I hope that can happen next week.

Tomorrow I'm taking a friend with me for the real deal. I'll let you know how it goes.