Monday, December 19, 2005

A Topic Touchier than a Vatican Summercamp

It's nearing Christmas, friends- the most wonderful time of the year. I know I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and it's the first Christmas I can remember in a long time that I was this excited about the whole thing. It's tough sometimes, when we're so wrapped up in our own little lives and all the things we have to get accomplished and bought and wrapped, it's easy to forget all the people around us who have it so much worse. People who are alone this Christmas, people who are sick, people that have no family and no loved ones, and people who are cold and hungry. We're so quick to forget those little miracles in everyday life that we don't have to ever worry about. They are there every day, so we forget what a blessing it is just to have friends and a warm bed at night. When I was in the hospital, what I wanted more than anything else was to be able to go outside and get in a car and go somewhere. That was the biggest deal to me, more than feeling sick, more than the hospital food, more than the loss of privacy, more than anything. I wanted just a little taste of freedom back. That total loss of freedom was horrendous to me, and I promised myself I'd never take it for granted again. Everyday now when I walk to the car, I try to think how lucky I am just for that. Just to have two legs, just to not be connected to an iv pole, just to be home.
Seems preachy, I know, but I just want to remind you this holiday that there are so many little things that could be taken away from us that we need to remember to be thankful for.
That's enough of the soapbox. Enjoy your pumpkin pie and be good to each other out there.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

No Woman, No Cry

I guess everybody has those days- you know, those days when nothing seems to go right, when the bad outweighs the good, when all you want is one little thing and you get everything else you don't want. I went to Parkland yesterday for the first time as a patient. I went alone, because I insisted on being alone, I insisted on being dropped off because I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself. But Parkland isn't like the other hospitals I've been in, it's more like ER. It's the poorest and the sickest people who have no where else to go. And sitting there for hours upon hours just waiting to be seen, watching all the sick people, hundreds of them just sitting and waiting, it wore on me. That, along with the anemia, I guess, I don't know. It sounds dramatic, but it's just a really depressing place. People seem to have the soul sucked out of them in that basement, lined up in chairs, coughing and crying and bleeding and throwing up, waiting, just like me, waiting for hours, waiting to feel better somehow. So many people, and I should have just felt blessed because there were so many so much sicker than me. I thought I was strong enough: to go and handle it alone and not have to worry about what it would do to me mentally, and I don't know what happened exactly, but I just started crying. I cried and cried and cried. I cried more than I have cried since I found out I had cancer, and I guess maybe that's why I cried so hard. Maybe I realized, looking at all those sick people, just how sick I could become. Maybe sitting next to the lady with lung cancer made me think about how this cancer could spread. Maybe I was dealing for the first time with how serious this all is. I don't know. I don't really even know what to say about it, and, of course, I thought about not letting anyone know how I cracked like an egg, but I guess that I hope by sharing it, somebody else with this kinda situation knows that there will be days when you're just so tired, just so ready to feel better, just so tired of being sick and so ready for the whole thing to be over. And I guess that's ok. I guess everybody needs those days when they just need to let it all out and be sad about it and give themselves a chance to get over the suckiness of it.
I feel better today. I came home and had a couple of glasses of wine and some mashed potatoes. My scar started burning, so I assumed Voldemort was near, and thought it might be best to just hit the sack early. I took a shower and got a good night's sleep. I guess I feel lucky again to be as well as I am. My PET scans all came back clear, which means, conclusively for the first time basically, that the cancer hasn't spread. It's the best Christmas present I could ever ask for, and the truth is, I am a lucky girl, even when I don't feel like it sometimes. And maybe this whole thing will just somehow make me stronger. That's all I'm asking for: a higher purpose in all this. A reason to learn. And a better day tomorrow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Reaction Fraction

Bobby here, guest report #2.
Just a quick little story from the other side of the room. This story is requested by our lovely Lori Lee.

So, our favorite melanoma patient has had some low numbers lately, (see anemia and low blood count). What does that mean to you and me? Well good and bad. The good is it makes our girl talk and act like she's dropped a few Quaaludes along with some Mad Dog 20/20 (grape drink!). She's lots of fun, yes, more than normal. The bad is fatigue, yes more than normal, muscle cramps & spasms, chest pains, "foggy memory" (I love that song), lots of easy bruising, etc etc. I told the cops I didn’t beat her, but whatever. She burned the toast. SHE BURNED THE DAMN TOAST. She deserved it.

Onward we go. Numbers were low enough to skip an Interferon treatment and let the ole' body build some immunity. Well, last night was the chemo treatment after the injection vacation. Let's say reaction would be all capitals, as in REACTION. Our girl got a wicked fever, as in 102 degrees fever. Horses get shot for less. Anyway, it was a long night. I remember falling asleep around 6 am today. Lori called the on call oncologist who said go to the emergency room.

Now there’s a saying I’ve heard and it goes “No one knows your body better than you”. No perverts here people, I’m being serious. Lori went ahead and took some more Tylenol and a “tepid” shower, and the fever eventually broke and all is well and she got some great sleep.

This happens semi-occasionally, I think last night was one of the more serious. It’s gotta be no fun going through this, so send your love to Lori.

On a funny note, Lori was FREEZING last night (see fever above) and I should’ve taken a picture because she had on the following:
One pair of socks with a slot for each toe
One pair of socks on top of that
One pair of pajama bottoms (flannel)
One wife-beater
One heavy duty sweatshirt
One Flickerstick ski cap
One blanket (acquired from a local hospital)
One comforter
One comforter on top of that
And she was still freezing.

At one point, when she finally passed out, I had to put in a prop for a picture. She looked too gangster to pass up the opportunity.

Lori makes it all look easy but even last night was tough for her. It’s a reminder of how tough she is and how great it’s going to be once she’s done with treatment.

Fun is fun and serious is serious. Last night was a little bit of both.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I'm Just Here for the Ativan

Well, for those of you who don't know, Thanksgiving was a blast, just awesome. Bobby and I both got our first annual Thanksgiving lapdances, (thanks to Amanda), and I just don't know how you can go wrong with that. The game, although we lost, (as everyone knew we would), was actually really close, and Kelly's Thanksgiving dinner had the best dressing and pumpkin pie known to man, plus Uncle Jeff's circus going on outside was fun and entertainment for everyone.

Had chest pains on Saturday, along with some serious leg spasms and cramps that would put polio to shame (okay, not really). The ER Doc gave me ATIVAN to help with all of it. OMG. It's like liquid pleasure, and by that I mean it's a tablet and it took away most of the nausea and most of the muscle stuff, too. Good stuff. I mean real good stuff. Like, I want to get it's name tattooed on my chest (or other places).

Lots of exciting stuff coming up... went to Parkland today, and of course, now I feel more greatful than ever. There's a lot for all of us to be thankful for, kids. In the waiting room, we sat next to a planet of the apes lady, who cussed out 3 of 4 social workers out while we were there. We didn't have popcorn, but it was entertaining enough.
My doc told me to wear a mask while I went inside the hospital, which I did like the good cancer patient I am. My advice to you is if you ever need to clear a hallway or waiting room, walk in with a mask on. I swear, you'd think I had "Bird Flu" written across my forehead. I've never been stared at like that, and anyone who knows me knows that I draw enough attention to myself that THAT's a big deal. What people didn't get was I was protecting ME from Them, not the other way around. (like I'm gonna care if I give the hospital SARS!?!?) It was funny nonetheless. And there was tons of tagging in the bathroom. Who goes to a hospital to write on the walls? My favorite tag was "F**k all you hatters out there!" Yeah, those hatters can be a real drag. The anemia has made me so light-headed and such a space cadet lately that I've been laughing like I've been breathing ether, funny as hell. I think people around me were actually getting a contact high.

Anyway, things went well and I'll try to be a little more regular on the blogs. Everybody hollar at me when you get a chance.



I'm Too Young For This!