another week has passed, as i settle into a rhythm with treatment, side effects, walking, working, remembering to rinse my mouth 7 times a day, guided imagery, trying to have a super healthy immune-building diet, acupuncture, and being thankful for all the thoughtful mail, surprises, visits, and everything else generous you do for us. and then repeat. my acupuncturist said that this is my full time job, and i really am starting to feel the weight of her words, both good and bad.
after i enjoyed a homemade zucchini muffin from sarah and michael yesterday, i tossed the paper wrapper in a bowl on the floor and walked away for a hot second. when i came back, whiz was sitting there licking his lips and cleaning his paws. the wrapper was missing. i looked everywhere and drew the obvious conclusion. so, one hour and few dollars later, we left the vet with an x-ray confirming he likely ate the wrapper but at least chewed it up enough to get it through his 5-month old intestines. i am not winning parent of the year award here. mike is trying to figure out how to recoup those costs by deducting the ER vet bill from any future discretionary expenses for whiz. so, it looks like no more blue dildo toys in whiz’s future for a long, long time.
i finished my third of twelve chemo treatments in this round with ease. they lowered my pre-med steroids, so i did not have the epic energy as in week’s past and our drawers remain unorganized and backyard unswept. my port and sutures are almost fully closed up, and my skin rash is subsiding but still taking its sweet ol’ time to go away. delayed healing is part of the deal under chemo (my knife-in-hand incident from 4 weeks ago left a lingering hematoma in my palm too). little side effects keep popping up, like a bloody nose. i’m shoving aquaphor up my nose to help with the dryness; the nurse practitioner (NP) said, “we’re robbing you of your nose hairs.” too bad as i think those are generally helpful in life. at least it’s temporary though. and i have to remind myself of this in general each day.
this particular NP isn’t going to be my best friend, so i’m looking to switch around my appointments to get the ‘sweet’ one. the NPs are the ones who will spend a lot of time with you, and i need someone with more compassion on that front. she was thorough but brusque. she also told me news that i didn’t particularly want to hear, that the surgeons could take all my lymph nodes since one to several (i mean, what’s several? more than 1? 5?) were found positive in the PET/CT and biopsy. that they would just keep going once they got in there. this was after telling her that i am most fearful of lymphadema, and she said, “i would be too.” sigh. this elephant arm condition is very painful and never goes away once it comes on. it can be aggravated by flying or getting IVs or your BP taken from that arm. it’s just scary to me and really impacts your life and lifestyle.
the best news that came to us this week was during this appointment. she clinically measured my palpable tumor, and it is confidently 1.5cm. that means that after 2 rounds of chemo, it shrunk down from a start at 1.75 – 2 cm. unless her measurement was off, but she wasn’t the kind of lady who would mess around. that gave me a boost for sure. that this sometimes imaginary disease that i have is real, and the nasty stuff going into my body is actually doing its job.
my wonderful nurse caroline–a cambodian woman with a south side boston accent–was surprised my hair hasn’t fallen out yet. it should have started last week, but nothing, except maybe my nose i guess. there are trials in play at UCSF where women wear these cold caps to avoid hair loss. beyond looking like an epileptic wearing a bright blue helmet, they seem like a huge pain. you have to sit for 3 hours post treatment with a freezing cold ice pack wrapped all over your head. and then do that several times throughout the week at home. i know hair loss will be a huge deal for me when it happens, but that extra stuff just doesn’t seem worth it, on top of everything else i am to remember. we almost saw a husband-wife team lose it in the infusion chair next to me while trying to get her cap on correctly. so maybe that was the biggest turn off of them all. stress on top of stess, with a side of stress, on a platter of stress. and then a dash of stress to finish it off.
i have a lot more to share with you soon, on clinical trials, diet, and grief. but i’ll save that for another day.
i hope wherever you are, there are the smells of fall. i miss that the most about the midwest. the smells of the air turning, cool nights, crispness of leaves. it stirs up a lot of fondness in my memory–playing soccer on saturday mornings with chapped faces, picking apples, friday night football games, and squeezing the minutes out of the day as the darkness practically tramples the light. and then knotty stuff–with the onset of fall comes closure, coldness, starkness. reminders of sad things like my grandma gg and nana’s deaths and my grandpa’s grief and holidays with empty chairs. having my toughest treatments when it’s going to be literally the darkest of days isn’t exactly look-forward-to-material.
but for now, i’ll celebrate the goodness of fall and the seasons changing. i’m going to a barn dance with friends tonight and breaking out those red cowboy boots that were made for a perfect fall day like today. and for stomping all over cancer…:)