Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lessons from the funny papers

This morning while the coffee G had made was brewing, I settled onto the couch for my 58 year (at least) Sunday morning ritual of reading the Sunday comics. That has always been the section I head for first thing. It works well for us. G usually doesn’t read them at all. So they are mine - all mine.

I got to thinking about the impact the "funny papers" have had on my life through these years. When I was a small child, I was aware of measuring time. I had years and months down pretty well, but weeks were another thing.

I, like most young children, couldn’t wait for Christmas. Keeping up with the weeks until Christmas was something I couldn’t always grasp. When I was a child, we didn’t attend a "high church" so I knew nothing of an Advent wreath which would have made the wait make more sense, but my dad and I had a kind of advent wreath. It was using the number of "funny papers" until Christmas. Every Sunday I would ask how many more funny papers until Christmas.

I have found inspiration in the pages of these comics. I have found solace. I have found escape. I've found lessons in their frames. They have been important in my life.

Today was no exception, but I didn’t know what was coming. Since my diagnosis of cancer, I have looked upon the disease as though it was just a simple infection. We do the surgery; we do the treatments, and we get over it. Simple as that. No big deal. It’s not like it’s deadly or something. I mean really!

Then today I read one of my favorite strips. One of the characters has been fighting breast cancer for a number of years. She went for a scan, and was told she was fine. Then her physician found that her results had been confused with someone else’s. She is back in chemo and her prognosis doesn’t look good.

That brought me to reality. Although I have great confidence that I will get through this with no lingering problems, there is that chance. It IS cancer, after all. I shouldn’t take my complete recovery for granted. It may not happen. Another lesson to be taken to heart.

I wonder how many more "funny papers" are in my future? I wish there were an answer this time.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Brag, brag

I was full of myself yesterday. I thought the additional steroid pills had done the trick and I was not going to be completely laid up again. Um - no. That wasn’t the way it was.

The pain did stay away for about 12 hours, but last night it hit - suddenly. All through the day I felt good. No muscle or joint aches. We even went out to dinner. All systems were go.

About 9:30pm I was sitting on the couch when it hit. First the knees, then the hips. I took a very hot bath, but it didn’t really help. I took the pain pills, but when your hips hurt, sleeping is difficult.

By 11am this morning, I was really in pain again. I took two of the little jewels and that knocked me out for a while.

To top off the morning, I decided yesterday that I would try Simone on her thyroid pills again. She is losing even more hair on her back, and the vet thought she had a thyroid deficiency. So she is getting rather bald on her back. What a pair of hairless wonders we are making!

I gave her the third pill this morning. It had the effect they have had before. It seems as soon as she has had three pills, she gets sick. She began her "licking." She was nauseated. I gave her an anti-nausea pill, but I was too late. She headed for the office, and you guessed it. I cleaned that up and treated her again.

So today what we had around here was a sleepy woman, a sleepy dog and a rainy day.

She is finally better and so am I. Two more treatments for me, who knows for Simone. Poor G. All he can do it sit on the sidelines, observe and wonder.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


It has been a long time since I have been here! A little catching up is in order.

The trip to the SSB was a good one. Leaving on Thursday gave me time to bake the cookies for the community club dinner on Friday so they wouldn’t be little crumbs after the 5 ½ hour trip. I was able to cut all the vegetables for the hamburgers and hot dogs on Friday also.
G and out neighbor E went to Kerrville to pick up the new "toy" - a utility vehicle that I believe will become my magic chariot to traverse the property since walking is certainly not something I can easily do up there.

The dinner was well received on Friday night. The crowd was fairly large, and we did have enough food. I think that was partially due to the fact that the under 15 crowd was sparse.

For some reason I was very fatigued. Saturday I had promised I would go over to P and M’s to teach her to knit. Her broken ankle is keeping her pretty close to home since it is her right. That means she cannot drive for another 3 weeks at least. Of course, she has no car since her’s was totalled.

My fatigue has continued. I am supposed to go get my Neulasta shot today. I checked with the nurse about the time, and she said I could come whenever since it was only one shot. I am going to wait untl about 11am as opposed to 9am to rest a little more.

I am just getting over the skin rash from the chemo on the 9th. I guess I’ll start all over on Sunday if things hold to the way it was then. The muscle and joint pains started mildly 3 hours after chemo yesterday.

Hope all is well for you.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

TMI - way too much!

Yes, my quasi Victorian mind set thinks this is too much information, but here I go anyway.

Yesterday I was alarmed to find blood in my stool. I went to the file to read the information about the drug I am getting this go on chemo. It said that even though this is not an emergency, I should contact my doctor within 24 hours because it is a situation that needs medical attention.

I sat on the couch for a few minutes. I was thinking I could just forget about this little development. I didn’t want it to mean that we couldn’t travel this weekend. But then I could see us getting 5 ½ hours away, and me getting in a really serious situation. So I bit the bullet and called

Of course, the office was closed. Now I know their schedule. I KNOW people were still in the office. In fact, I was sure Dr Poison was still in the office. He runs so late. But I got the answering service.

The operator I was speaking to was rather distant as I explained my situation. In fact, I was beginning to think I was a fool for calling. By the time she began to speak, I was becoming a basket case. She said she would have the on call physician call. I was about to cry, and I was really becooming scared.

A few minutes later I got the call. I think it was the doctor the surgeon wanted me to see. I really wish I could have gotten in with her. She was so positive and bubbly. She said a lot of her patients have problems with this "easier" regime. Her first question was if I had been constipated. Well, as a matter of fact, the pain killers put my intestines to sleep. So yes, I had been. In fact, I still had pains in my stomach. BUt I still wasn't assured because here it was three days later.

"That’s probably it" she responded. She suggested stool softeners, and advised if it got worse, I would have to go to the hospital.

I am happy to report that all systems appear to be in normal working condition! Aren’t you glad you read this. I should be so ashamed! This is not a normal report on a condition. I am turning into my mother as surely as I sit here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The best laid plans . . .

Every single plan I had for yesterday simply evaporated. I can’t believe how much a day can change in 10 seconds!

I had my early appointment with the oncologist which I was dreading so much. Not because I was expecting something horrible from that appointment, but because I was so sleepy that I didn’t want to leave the house.

I don’t know what is causing me to not be sleepy at bed time, but it is killing me. Both Sunday and Monday nights I couldn’t fall asleep until at least 1 am. Since G gets up at 6:10, I get up also.

I was dragging around here yesterday morning. I finally got myself out the door - 15 minutes late. In my rush, I picked up the list of things to take to the SSB ( we are hosting the dinner at Wide Spot in the Road Club) instead of the handicapped placard (I TOLD you I was sleepy). I was hoping the valet parkers would be there, so I had the extra set if keys to my chariot with me.

Alas, when I arrived, there were no valet parkers yet. I guess they come to work at 9:00. When I checked my bag for the placard, it was not there. The list sat there in the bottom of my bag and gloated at me. I was parked in a handicapped space, and as I looked around, there were no close spaces. My knees preclude much walking, and the chemo drug from the first round still sends my heart pitter patting without much exertion.

Then I remembered! I still have my dad’s placard in my glove box. Just because it expired in 2005 shouldn’t deter me! I turned it over and placed it on the dash. And I was off and just in time for the appointment - nothing to spare for a change.

The oncologist was there when I was taken back, but he made me cool my heels for 45 minutes anyway. As I aired my laundry list of complaints, he wasn’t too concerned. He just prescribed more steroids. This time 5 pills before chemo and 5 after with the hopes that my joints won’t freeze up again. But I can’t believe the amount I am now going to get. I really hoped the chemo would help me lose some weight, but with all those steroids forget it!

After I left the doctor’s office I was going to that little French boutique - Target, but without my placard, I decided not to do that. I went to the computer store instead to have the lap top fixed. I had been without Wi-Fi since Easter. I left Gertrude with them and went into the store for a printer cartridge and a fire wire for the video camera. As I was leaving, they stopped me at the service desk. The "problem" with Gertrude was s simple use of a function key. That’s what turned the radio back on

So I get in my chariot, turned the key, and there was an explosion under the hood. A little smoke rose into the air. My car was dead. Absolutely dead, The first thought was G was right - we are in the market for another car (that being brought on by my having found a bad place in the upholstery). I called him at work because my phone was running on a low battery, and there was no using the car charger because the car was, remember, dead.

I asked him to call our mechanic to send a wrecker because I didn’t know how long my phone would last. He said he was coming instead.

K had been calling me without me answering for about an hour. She finally left a disparate message telling me she thought I must surely be in the hospital. I called her back - again - this time leaving her a message that my car had just exploded. She left work to sit with me.

The explosion was the battery. I don’t know what caused it. The mechanic just called to tell me the car is ready. Finding out what was wrong should be interesting.

After waiting for the wrecker and then taking K to lunch, the day was shot. So I have played catch up today since we are off to the SSB tomorrow.

So I am still itching, the port still hurts, I had to get all the groceries for the dinner today, and I will go to see Lady Bug in a kindergarten program in an hour. Situation normal.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ouch - part 2

I think I was gleefully expecting to breeze through these next chemo sessions without any problem. It seems that is not going to be the reality. The muscle/joint pains are easing somewhat, and, although I am still not comfortable, I am not reduced to tears. My lower back, hips, knees, and ankles are still hurting quite a lot.

Yesterday I was experiencing a sharp pain around the port. Today there is still some pain which I will certainly bring up to the oncologist on Tuesday. I don't think it is really serious - at least not serious enough to call the doctor on call. I am concerned though.

I reread the information about this drug. Now I know why they gave me benadril through the IV. This one can and has caused some severe allergic reactions. I have very sensitive skin. I am having break outs on my hands, and I think it is due to the chemo.

At least there are only three more. Of course, then I begin on the pills, and I have heard they have their own set of side effects. I get them for five years, but as leeann said, the reverse side of the coin is a different matter.

I'll get through this and stop whining soon.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Last night, we got a lot of rain! I mention this because I'm not sure if it was the change in weather, the new chemo treatment, or the Neulasta, but I am really hurting this morning.

My joint are killing me. This is new. I've not had this kind of reaction before. But there are too many variables right now to figure out what is causing the pain.

Oh well - only three more treatments. I'll make that - easily.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Trade off

I began the new treatment in chemo today. I no longer have to go on the second day for IV fluids and the Neulasta shot. I just have to get the shot. What they DIDN"T tell me was that this new drug takes 3 hours! I left the house at 9:15 this morning and walked in at 3:26 this afternoon.

We'll see that the effects of this drug are. I didn't have trouble with the others, and this one has been promised to be better tolerated.

I was surprised that I got IV Benadril. I think I'll toddle off for a little nappy-poo. See ya!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How sad

Facts are facts. I must face the reality that the relationship that I considered to be my best friend has finally died. I cannot administer life support anymore. I am so sad.

I really thought this person was really my best friend. I have always been there for her. When her mother died, I provided food for her family and those who gathered after the funeral. When Dad died, nothing.

That statement sounds petty. I’m not out to get more from a relationship than I give, but that was just an example of how this "friendship" has been going.

She and I taught together and were practically inseparable. I retired and she went into IT work. We would email, which is really silly. We live four blocks apart. I knew her hours were early and long, so I respected her rest time and didn’t call. I would wait for her to call me.

Now she has been "downsized." There were promises of getting together, etc. She said she would go with me to my chemo and so on. I have not heard from her.

No I lied. I have caller ID. She DID call once - when I was at chemo. Childish as it sounds, I decided to see if she would call again. Nope.

So I have come to the conclusion that this relationship should be declared deceased. It hurts. I am in mourning for it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What I Did on My Spring Vacation (partially)

Yes, I am still alive and kicking. We returned from our trip Friday afternoon. Saturday was spent simply resting, and yesterday was church and family dinner.

Our trip to Chicago was literally fantastic. We were able to take a very special trip there. We belong to an organization here through which we were able to take private rail cars to Chicago, The man who owns these cars has a motto that is so true. It’s not the destination, it’s the trip.

The cars were a sleeper car and a living room/dining room/observation car. There were compartments in the sleeped that had a suite bath between every two. The shower was full sized with a glass enclosure and full tile. The toilet was also full sized - unlike the "new" sleepers that are on Amtrak The living room/dining room/observation car was so plush. Most of our time was spent in the observation car.

There were ten of us aboard these two cars, and there were three crew members. Two "car attendants" and one chef. The crew treated us like royalty!

We left Houston from the Amtrak station about 11 pm. We were scheduled to leave about 9, but the train from New Orleans was late. Imagine that. We were headed to San Antonio where we would be hooked onto the Texas Eagle. That meant that we would have wait time in San Antonio regardless of when we arrived because the Eagle isn’t scheduled to leave San Antonio until 7 am.

Sleeping wasn’t really an option once we were underway. The track between Houston and San Antonio is so rough. If you aren’t used to the rocking and rolling, forget a sound sleep. Once we got into town it was easier, but I missed my fan!
The trip to Chicago was wonderful. Breakfasts pretty much cooked to order and served in the booths in the observation car. We had lots of scenery to look at and enjoyed lots of conversation - when people were not on the back platform sounding the whistle!

The second night on board sleeping was much easier. Exhaustion took over. More scenery the next day and our arrival in Chicago was only an hour late.

The weather in Chicago was beautiful. When we arrived on Sunday, everyone was out and walking or sunbathing. The traffic on the Magnificent Mile was horrible because of that!

When we were to turn on the street with our hotel, we found it to be blocked by three fire trucks and an ambulance. Fortunately it was not our hotel. A guy in a condo in the next block fell asleep and set his mattress on fire. It added to our excitement however!

What a great break from chemo! Four more to go. I’m over the hump. And I still love Chicago.