Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When Will it Stop?

Week 25: Please help me stop crying. Mostly about Stephanie and how much I detest myself for the irreversible harm I'm doing to her. I wrote an email to Mrs Brewer, our school principal, this morning asking her to give S. a hug for me. The message went like this: "Hi Mrs Brewer. I have a big favor to ask you. This morning was one of those bad days. I'm home with tears streaming down my face because I lost my temper with Stephanie when we were getting ready for school. I was sick and she was, unfairly, the target of my lack of patience. She doesn't deserve to be burdened with my illness and I know I'm damaging her when I lash out. I want nothing else than for her to enjoy this glorious day and experience care-free fun like every child should. I told her I loved her and apologized to her when I dropped her off this morning, but I regret that I didn't get out of the car and embrace her to reinforce it. So that's the favor I need. Can you call her aside sometime today and tell her that I asked you to say, "your mommy asked me to remind you how much she loves you," and give her a big squeeze and a kiss for me? Kids are resilient they say, and maybe (hopefully) she won't think twice about my grief this morning, but it sure would make me feel better if she had a hug. None of this is her fault.

I'm working later and won't see her tonight so if you could help me, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you, Ann

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cindy Lou is Back in Action

Week 24: Yee-hah!!! Went to see my doctor, got a check-up and lab screening, and convinced him to let me keep going with chemo. I had my "Day 15" 2nd-cycle infusion during what would have been my week off because they wouldn't let me take it the week before. Rather than take my week off and delay starting the next "Day 1" 3rd-cycle, I begged the doctor to let me have chemo this week so that I can stay on schedule. Yippee! I'm scheduled for an infusion tomorrow, Fri Apr 24. The nurses think I'm nuts to be so excited about having chemo.

The only issue now is that my doctor wants to send me to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. My nose has been bleeding daily for weeks now. It stuffs up my sinuses and then I can't breathe freely at night, which in turn gives me a headache. To me, it's more of a nuisance than anything else but he wants me to try getting it fixed.

I think my first bout with cancer must have helped build-up a resistance to losing my hair. It's still falling out, but it's been very gradual. My mini-mohawk has thinned out; only few wisps left. I think when I go to teach dog training tonight, I'll have one of the groomers put a little bow in it.  If a Shih-Tzu can have one, why can't I? So what if I look like Cindy Lou Who? We can all use a good laugh.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Turned Away

Week 24: I'm really bummed out. They turned me down last week for chemo because my white cell blood count was too low. I have to delay my next infusion for a few days, go back for follow-up lab work, and start injecting myself with Neupogen for the rest of my treatment. Dang it. I thought I'd slip past having those nasty shots this time around.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Nurse and My Mohawk

Week 23: This week I discovered another downside to getting treatment at the hospital instead of at my oncologist's office. My infusion took 5 hours instead of the usual 3-1/2. Way too long to sit still. Apparently they do all types of infusions at the same department, not just chemotherapy infusions. When I arrived for my appointment, I was told that they had to give an emergency blood transfusion to another patient, who happened to be in my seat. So I had to wait about a 1/2 hour before another chair was freed-up. That's how my day started. It was hit-or-miss after that in terms of my nurse focusing her attention on moi. My nurse is named Nam, and she's a petite, spunky woman with a wonderful Chinese accent who works her derriere off. Nam was very busy that day, and she was training another nurse on top of that, so there were times when me and my drip sat idle. It took another 30 minutes for a bag of fluids I needed in addition to the chemicals because my lab work indicated I was dehydrated. I didn't have the guts to tell Nam it was because I drank two Coronas the night before. What was I doing drinking Coronas, you ask? Well, primarily because I gave up Heinekens for Lent. But also because I went to my sister Jennifer's house to celebrate getting my head shaved. I'm now sporting what I call a "modified mohawk," compliments of my sister Elizabeth, the electric shaver guru. Before she was finished clipping the top off, my sisters dared me to leave it that way, so I did. Better to dance with cancer than despair over it, right? I might as well have a little fun. I look like a mix of Alfalfa from the Little Rascals -- and a Goth girl. I'm thinking about wearing a dog collar with spikes on it just to see how people react. Upon inspection of my head, my feisty 2-1/2 year old niece observed that a few locks of hair still remained. She promptly voiced her displeasure about it by scorning her mommy that she missed a spot. My 4-1/2 year old nephew didn't like the style much either. And as for my daughter Stephanie, well, let's just say that the days of Mom embarrassing her are just beginning.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Next Round, New Location

Week 22: While I was blissfully comfortable in my oncologist's office, I nonetheless decided to switch to Reston Hospital for my weekly infusions. For some unknown and quite possibly idiotic reason, my insurance company charges me a $30 co-pay for each visit for treatment in my doctor's office, but there's no charge if I receive it at the hospital. Go figure. Added up over the remaining 15 treatments, not counting the miscellaneous check-ups and lab work required with the chemo visits, I'll save myself $600 by going across the street, literally, to the hospital. There are some negatives with this choice, like not having a private room and not having the chemicals ready to go in order to save time (they don't order meds from the hospital pharmacy until I arrive and then we have to wait for the stuff to be brought up), but the plus side is there's free valet parking and a cafeteria! Even better, the nurse ordered a lunch tray for a lady next to me. I thought it was a great idea, so I might order room service next time I'm there, too. The thing is, I'm afraid if my insurance company doesn't cover it, then with my luck, I'll be paying that $600 co-pay savings back for the cost of lunch. I can just see my "out-of-network" bill: Ginger ale - $45; Turkey sandwich - $200; Mustard pack - $5, Oatmeal cookie - $80; Plastic fork, knife and napkin pack - $20; Misc. supplies and equipment (aka "lunch tray" for you layman) - $120 ...and so forth With respect to treatment itself, the side effects seem to be hitting me faster and lingering longer, the sickness is harder to keep at bay, and some new symptoms are appearing, like nose bleeds and ringing in my ears. I've also decided I really resent the metallic or otherwise distorted taste of food the chemo causes. Eating is one way I try to quash the nausea and make myself feel better, only to find that nothing seems to work and it all tastes bad. Oh, one other thing....it turns out I spoke about a half-week too soon: my hair is falling out. 'Sure took long enough. Even my doctor was surprised. We were beginning to think I might escape it!