Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chemo--the Gift that Keeps Giving

I can't decide if I'm like a really old person or a baby. I pretty much want to sleep and eat all day--although it turns out I'm pretty fussy about what I can eat. And I wake up several times a night. Generally between 4 and 5:30 a.m., I'm just tossing and turning (and getting up to get Tylenol). So which does that describe? Great grandma? newborn? Or, chemo patient? Why would those things have anything in common? Discuss amongst yourselves.

I think toward the end of this fun chemo thing I'm going to have to catalog for you all (fair warning) the side effects they say are common, less common, and rare--and then list the ones I had. There's no point in doing it now, because I get new fun little side effects all the time. Today, my hips were hurting. And if I move just wrong, I get a severe lower back shooting pain. Stop, drop, pop-off shooting pain. I suppose this is the Neulasta joint/bone pain (they say it affects the large bones and um, my hips certainly qualify). And my head is itching like crazy--I'm guessing the fuzzy bits of hair are now wanting to abandon the cranium as well. It's amazing the numerous ways your body can be affected by poison. Or, well, maybe that's not so amazing.

For your sake and mine, I do not want to focus on the craziness. There was a lighter side today. I worked from home. Chris and Laureen handled the office, so I could stay home. Which worked out really well. I got plenty of work done, but could easily take a nap as needed. And 2 naps were needed, but that allowed me to put in a full day of work. Work is great for keeping my mind off "things." But it also meant there was no real reason for me to wear make-up or gussy myself up in any way. So I spent more time than I have before bare-faced and bald. And pretty much sloppy in yoga pants and a t-shirt (Save the Tatas!). I didn't feel bad. It was kinda freeing. Not surprisingly, this does cause one to examine ones face and skull--especially since I've never seen the skull quite like this. I wasn't horrified. This is good news.

I do have two scars on my head that are more visible than before--they are at what used to be my hairline and is now a tan line (face is several shades more beige than the top of my head, as it turns out, not at all surprisingly). One is from falling down my grandparents back door stairs as a kid, and one is from where my older sister stabbed me in the head with a fork (ah, sweet childhood memories). But all in all my skull is in pretty good shape. It's not oddly shaped and doesn't have too many bumps or protrusions. This is chemo's gift to me. I know what my skull looks like--most of you don't.

And of course the face becomes more noticeable without hair. I've heard several times that I'm lucky because I have a "pretty" face and thus will look fine bald or can "pull off" just the scarf look. This cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was first diagnosed and people would say "You are a really strong person. You'll do fine." It's nice and all, but both are statements with zero credibility. Because really, you can't say anything else. If a person isn't strong or doesn't have a pretty face, what are you going to say? "Wow. You are never going to be able to handle this. You'll fall apart. And oh good lord, with that nose of yours you'll look horrific. Best of luck!" No, no you are not. You are going to say "You'll do great. You're a strong person. And you have such a pretty face." You're going to lie! But thank you anyway.

Today, examining my new look with no make-up, I came to the conclusion that I'm lucky my face is just sort of plain. So nothing really stands out--which is good now. And really, I mean that in a good way. I don't have any outstanding features (okay, I'm 5'10", and that's hard to miss, but other than that) one way or another--no particularly great facial feature (or hair when I had it) but no particularly bad one either. Most people have one or the other or several. I don't think I do (feel free to point out what I'm overlooking. I'm totally kidding. Don't say anything.) To test my theory, those of you who know me, quick...what color are my eyes? .....waiting.....waiting......Right. See? They're blue. But not the sparkling, baby blues of literature and song (and Chris). They're a really dark, oceanic blue. Almost non-descript. But they're a normal size and situated normally in my face. So basically, they're just eyes. Plain and simple. My mouth is kinda small, but my teeth are gigantic, so that averages out to a normal smile/mouth. Nose is just a nose. Chin could be stronger, but the cheekbones aren't bad, so hey, once again, bone structure is average. I'm telling you, this makes "no hair" a bit easier--I don't need it to compensate for anything in particular (except, you know, my bald head). I had time to analyze this today (ironically on the day after excoriating the hapless author who had his character analzye himslef in a window reflection). No reason, it's just really--how often am I going to see myself bald and clean-faced like that? (The answer is, well, several more months, but I'm sure I'll get over this very soon. Like now.)

There were other chemo gifts today too. I got another card in the mail (thanks Christine) and Eliza and the staff at ADV sent the beautiful flowers in the picture. That was a very nice surprise. I like that it was just to remind me they were thinking of me. Very kind. And TERA HARDEN, criminal defense attorney supreme, is going to get my jury duty summons kicked far as we can get it kicked! Thanks Tera! And Chris brought me home the highly recommended Strawberry Banana smoothie from Jack in the Box-- Thanks for that tip TC BOND!! Works perfectly for "chemo mouth."

I also got a little love from Luxembourg. Someone checked the blog. That brings total countries to 24! To wit: US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Indonesia, South Africa, India, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Serbia, Poland, Japan, Sweden, Czech Republic, Lebanon, Ireland, Russia, Luxembourg and Hungary. Crazy isn't that? Great job spreading the word!! Anyone know anyone in Uzbekistan?

Of course, Wisconsin still hates me. Don't know why. I love their cheese. But Wisconsin, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Alaska have all been too busy (shoveling snow and dealing with tornado warnings?) to check the blog. We're working on them though.

So yes, chemo is the gift that keeps on giving. Even if I'm making up some of the fun myself (Google analytics is endlessly amusing). But you'll be happy to know we have no big plans for this weekend. We are thinking we'll have a nice relaxing anticipation of Day 12 on Monday. Will she crash or won't she?? I'm thinking postively. I'm registered for the Shop to Stop Breast Cancer at the Marriott Monday night. And my Cancer Vixen t-shirt arrived just in time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Teresa and Chris!
    Thanks for the link to the blog should now have some love from Hawaii and Wisconsin..the love was always in WI but we just returned from vaca. Sorry for the delay!

    Wishing you all the best!!
    Hugs from Wi,
    Peter & Heather


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