Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blast From the Past...part 1

I wrote this many years ago, for another blog. It has absolutely nothing to do with cancer. It made me giggle, hope you enjoy it too. Oh and as a side note, the "company" I mention towards the end is no longer a part of my life, so please keep that in mind. I am with my Pygmy and could not be happier. Ok, on to the socks.

Socks are pretty amazing if you think about them. They keep your feet warm, prevent raw chaffed skin from your shoes, and for the truly daring, enhance both male and female body parts.

I will acknowledge that they are great, but mine are pure evil. And I can prove it. They aren't plotting to cause the demise of Western Society as we know it. No! My friends, their plans are more nefarious, indeed! Their sole purpose, is to threaten my sanity by convincing me that they are trying to escape! And I can prove it.

I go to bed one night, with a pair of the evil-doers on my feet, because I just could not seem to get warm. Now I must point out, that I really HATE to have anything on my feet when I sleep, always have. So I go to bed and as far as I know, it was an uneventful night of slumber. When I woke up the next morning, I realized that my feet were naked!! After searching, I discovered that at some point during the night, I had removed my socks. Okay, nothing unusual there. However, I found not two socks in my bed, but THREE! Last time I checked, I only have two feet, so it would follow, that I would have only worn two socks to bed.

So, why were there three socks in my bed? Well there is a simple explanation: SOCK ORGY. Those little cotton pervs were doing goodness only knows what in my bed, with me in it! I wasn't sure if I should be appalled or turned on. I'm ashamed to admit, it was a little of both.

I thought that was the end of it. I was so wrong! About a week later, I had gone to bed, and woke up with my socks in the living room. Now I know you must be thinking I took them off there, right? I assure you I did not! I took them off in my bedroom, and deposited them on the floor, right after I smelled them. Come on! I refuse to believe that I am the ONLY one who ever smells their socks at the end of the day?!? I don't do it all the time, oh never mind! The point, is they were in my room! They were arranged in such a manner in the middle of my living room, that it suggests that they were making their way to the kitchen to get my truck keys and escape! What other explanation could there be?

Fast forward a month or so and I have "company" for the night. The next morning, my socks were in HER shoes. At this point, I can guarantee you that I did not take the time to place my socks in her shoes. And I know that she did not wear my socks and put them in her shoes. The difference in our shoe sizes is the same as the difference between my F-150 and my nephew's Matchbox cars. From this sock activity, it can only be concluded that, again, the little cotton bastards were attempting to escape.

We now time-travel to about two weeks ago. I had dressed myself, in one of my favorite outfits: a black Henley, my American Choppers shirt, carpenter pants and black Nike's. i was about half-way through my 11 hour shift in Hell, and I looked down and thought, "My stomach looks funny". upon further investigation, one of those little cotton bastards had hi-jacked my Henley and was now a stow-away! It had now accomplished what I can only guess is another phase of their nefarious plan to destroy my sanity. This was the "Get Out of the House without Sara Knowing It" phase, or GOSKI for my acronym loving friends.

I would like to say that this was the end of their plans. But I believe they quieted their activity in order to lull me into a false sense of security. I have to hand it to them, they stepped up their game. The new tactic? They have involved my girlfriends socks!! They now have recruits!! We had pulled a set of sheets out of the tote that sheets live in. When we unfolded the fitted sheet, out popped one of HER socks!! It seems that my older wiser socks are teaching her younger socks the ropes.

If you see my socks lurking in a dark shadow, or just hanging out in plain daylight, I say run! Don't walk away from them! They have effectively cost me my sanity, and yours could be next!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tears and TP

I have been cancer free for almost a year. Let me say that again: I HAVE BEEN CANCER FREE FOR ALMOST A YEAR!!!! So, why am I seemingly more pissed at the Universe than I was when I first got the diagnosis? Well, grab a couple of rolls of TP and I will tell you a little story. BTW: If you are squeamish or embarrassed by all things "bathroom" related, go watch this instead of continuing on. cats are assholes Otherwise, prepare for a whole bunch of TMI.

I thought when I was going through radiation and had diarrhea that felt like acid coated shards of glass dipped in lemon juice once or twice a day that it couldn't get any worse. WRONG!!! Now, the diarrhea (will be referred to as the Issue, because I hate the word almost as much as the actual condition) shows up, mostly without rhyme or reason, and I have almost no hang time. (For those that aren't familiar with the usage here of the term "hang time" I define it as the time between when your brain tells you that you have to poop, and the moment when you actually start to.) I can't tell you how many events, gatherings or just small get togethers that we (GF and I) have had to leave because my "issue" was getting ready to or in the process of acting up. THIS SUCKS.

There doesn't appear to be much that stops the Issue, but there is so much that is sure to set it off: any food items from McDonald's (not really a bad thing), really greasy pizza (this is a shame), lettuce (so salad, unless made from spinach it off the table), most fried food, stress, too much dairy ( I think too much is somewhere between 1/2 cup of milk and a block of cheese, or we are not really sure about this one) and my medication that I need to take daily to help regulate my blood sugar. Let me list for you all the things that I have found that will stop or slow down the Issue: ( insert crickets chirping). Yeah, pretty much nothing. Oh and the stomach cramps that come with the Issue? You know, the ones that feel like there is a donkey living in your colon and is just, gawd please forgive the word play here, kicking the shit out of you? Nothing really works on those either.

So, I know you are wondering, "How do you function?" Well, I can tell you every gas station between my house and the south side of town (we live on the north side) that have acceptable bathrooms. I can tell you where the bathroom is in EVERY store that I frequent. I can also tell you what it's like to have to wipe tears from your face and wipe your ass at the same time. Sometimes the tears are from the pain, the embarrassment or just frustration from spending yet more time in the bathroom. (For the record, tears from my face can wait) On a side note, I have re-purposed the phrase "photo finish". It's when you aren't really sure if you are going to get to the toilet and get your pants down before you have to throw away or clean ANOTHER pair of underwear. Usually, I loose when it comes down to a photo finish. I have also, considering these odds, stopped gambling.

It just seems so, unfair. I BEAT CANCER. Now, TP and moist wipes are my best friends and constant companions. I know I have to "give myself time to heal". Sometimes when I hear this, I want to throat punch the person that said this. Not because I am mad at them, or pissed about their platitude. It's out of sheer frustration. I wasn't supposed to get cancer. I wasn't supposed to loose the ability to bear children. I wasn't supposed to face my own mortality at the age of 36. When you have faced all of this, and managed to keep your sanity, then you can tell me to give it time. Please note, I will not actually punch you in the throat if you tell me to just give it time. I will simply sigh and say "Yeah I know". My parents raised me better than that. But think about this, sometimes a "wow that sucks" works just as well, and won't get you throat punched.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Is Chemo Brain a Valid Excuse After 9 Months?

I was talking with my friend, Panther, the other day and she told me how she thought that I handled having cancer with grace and humor. I'm not so sure about the grace part, but I will admit to the humor. I just don't know any other way to handle, well, anything. It got me thinking about this blog. When I logged in this morning, I found an old post that I never published. It deals with the horrors of "chemo brain". This was written shortly before I finished chemo. For anyone that doesn't know, I finished chemo nine months ago and have been cancer free for several months now.

I will have my seventh chemo treatment this week. Including this week's treatment, I only have two treatments left. This part of my journey is almost over. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, and for once, I do not think it is an on-coming train.

I am still tired. It's unlike any other "tired" feeling I have ever had. There are days, and there are seemingly more and more of them, where I get up, have a cup of tea and some breakfast, then go right back to bed. It's very similar to chemocoma, but without the nausea. I've tried staying awake when that feeling hits, but it makes my brain kinda shut down and the chemo brain becomes even worse. Let me give you an example. I have been playing Rock Band for years. I KNOW how to play the game. I am not any good by any stretch of the imagination, but I know how to play. The wife and I were playing Rock Band with some friends, and mid song, I forgot how to play. Now, this was about 6 songs after my body had said "We are tired and would like to go to bed now please." I let them talk me into a few more songs, and my brain punished me, by hiding the "how to play Rock Band" information. It took several minutes to find said information and then use it accordingly. I was horrified and embarrassed. No one knew what had happened, but I did. And that was enough. I blame it on chemo brain.

Chemo brain is a bastard. It robs you of information that you have had "locked down" for years. Makes you feel foolish and it humbles you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sleeping? No it's a full on chemocoma!

Our new word of the day is "chemo coma". That's what I was in for days 2 through 5 after chemo treatment number 2. It's not as bad as it sounds, I just like the word. I slept for three days. Not a Rip VanWinkle sleep. I woke up and ate, used the bathroom and yeah that was about it. I did make myself go upstairs and get food, most of the time. I know that the movement is good for me, see mom? I do listen. Sometimes. But I would eat, give the food a few minutes to start digesting then go back to bed. Of all the side effects of chemo, this was certainly the easiest to deal with. I had a really nasty bout of nausea Thursday night after treatment. I just knew that if I could just throw up, I would feel so much better. But that never happened. Thankfully, modern medicine has provided me with Zofran. I took one, and I don't know if it cured the nausea or not, but it did make me sleep, which sometimes is just as good. When I woke up several hours later, the nausea had passed and I was hungry.

This time around, I ate pretty much whatever I wanted. Nothing seemed to bother my stomach. I have now completed 3 of my 8 treatments and so far I have been very lucky. My nausea has been almost non-existent, and I pretty much just go into chemo coma for 4 or 5 days and then I am fine until the next round. I also have some arthritic like pain in my knees and hips, but that is a common side effect of the meds I am given.

Not much has hanged since my last post, which is why I have posted much of anything for the last month. I still struggle with not being able to bear a child. I have yet another friend who is now 1 month pregnant. It's hard because I am so happy for her and her partner, but part of me wants to just sob and weep because that is something that  I will never know. I know that Universe obviously has something else in mind for me, but right now, I don't have to like it. I am still working on coming to terms with this. It will just take some time.

I think that this short post will be all for now. It's bringing up too much for me to handle right now. Love and Light to you all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Random Thinkings

I am getting ready for chemo treatment number 2 tomorrow. I am still a little aprehensive about it. I know the procedure, but what I don't know, is how my body will react to this and each of my subsequent treatments. The first one, really wasn't that bad. I learned some valuable lessons: McDonald's is never a good idea, and pot roast is right up there with the Golden Arches of Evil.

I am sadly disappointed that I have not lost my hair yet. I am extremely pissed off that I have yet to develop any super powers. I think that the "What to Expect When You Have Cancer" brochure needs to be trashed and re-written. All I have gained from my treatments are an increased need for sleep, a few hemerrhoids and a couple of boils. All in all, I think these are shitty super powers and seem more like punishments than rewards. I guess I should be thankful, I haven't grown extra hair in odd places, like my eyelids, the 'roids are smaller than a Buick and the boils are not in a visible location, like on my face. Sometimes being positive is all you have. I am not sure that I have a handle on that yet, but I am trying!

I am in the process of packing my "chemo bag". It's a small messenger bag that has my stuff in it that I might need for the day. Right now it includes:

a small pillow, hand made and donated by some amazing person
my anti-nausea meds
ginger candy and candied ginger
cell phone charger
protein bar
dried fruit
various butt creams and ointments
gauze ( needed for the drain that I still have in for my abcess)
books (Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs and Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell)
handicapped hang tag and corresponding paperwork
gum wrapper
my cancer notebook
a pen
my comedy notebook
my storage unit key (it's not needed for chemo, I just always know where it is if I leave it in there)
numbing cream for my port site and Tegaderm patch
a protein bar
miscellaneous fuzz
iPod and headphones

I may add a few more things. I am open to suggestions. I still have room, so I have this need to put more stuff in it. Oky kiddos, I am going to go swimming and hang with my Dammit Sister, The Boy, his mom and my mom. Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

But It's a Good Pain.....

So I had my first chemo treatment last Thursday. That was a looooong day. It started at 9:30am with the first nurse checking me in and getting my vitals. Then a second nurse accessed my port and did my blood draws and hooked up the port so it was ready to access for chemo. Then I waited for almost an hour, half naked with nothing to cover my nethers but a large paper towel. After yet another pelvic exam, I was given the green light for my chemo treatment. The CT scan I had earlier in the week came back completely "unremarkable". In medical speak, this means that they were unable to detect any new growths, everything was where it belonged and nothing that I had removed in January had grown back. I was dismissed and had about an hour to kill before I was due at the Cancer Center. We stopped for a sandwich and ate in the parking garage. Call it a pre-chemo picnic.

Once I was checked in, I was given my choice of chairs, but they wanted me close to the nurses station, just to keep an eye on me. There were lots of "pre-meds" given to me before we got to the actual chemo drugs. The idea here, is that if you give these meds to prevent the anticipated side effects, they become easier to treat, if not completely eliminated. Some of the pre-meds made me pretty sleepy, so I know that I napped for a while. I was visited by the on site pharmacist. He brought some handouts about the drugs that I was being given. He spent maybe an hour with me, going over what I was being given and why. He also explained possible side effects and some preventative measures I can take to avoid some of the potential mouth issues I can encounter. It was a little bit overwhelming, but for me, having all of that information takes some the "ohshitwhatthehellishappeningtome" out of it.

The first chemo drug goes in very slowly. And by slowly, I mean about 3 hours. It sounds like a long time, but I think with the newness of the process it didn't seem to be that long. Next I get a huge dose of Lasix. For you non-medical folks, this drug will make you pee everything you have had to drink in the last 4 days, over a 1 hour period. In the middle of doing the 100 yard dash for the potty, I have to sit still while they administer chemo drug number two, "red death". I tried to convince my nurse that she could push the drug while I just sat on the potty, but apparently this is not sanitary. Red Death, is so named for several reasons. One is that it can burn like hell if it gets on your skin or blows out your vein. The other, which I think is kind of neat, is that it makes your pee and I am told other body secretions, sweat, tears etc. red or pink. While that is fun, you have to keep in mind that because of the toxicity of the drugs that are being pumped into my body, and the radiation that I have undergone, I also have to be aware of blood in my urine. Thankfully, the affects of the red death only last for about 24 hours.

By the time we arrived at home, it was almost 7pm. I really didn't feel that bad, mostly just tired. Next day I had to report back to the Cancer Center to get a shot. This shot is designed to stimulate my white blood cell count, since chemo kills those. They had explained that the stimulated production can cause pain in the big bones (legs, sternum, etc). Think of freezing a bottle of water. As the ice forms, it only has a fixed amount of space to expand into. Same thing with the white blood cells. It's one of those double-edged swords; if it hurts, it's working. That is not a comforting thought. I followed directions and took a Claritin and an Alleve (OK I took two Alleve). The nurse that gave me the shot also told me if I had any pain meds to take one before I went to bed to make sure I didn't wake up in the middle of the night hurting. Done and Done! As I write this now, six days after this shot, I have had no pain from it.

Nausea is not fun. I am not sure which feeling is worse, actually throwing up, or feeling like you might, for hours at a time. In the first few days post chemo, I found that I could keep the nausea at bay if I ate small, snack sized meals every few hours. I only made two mistakes with this: eating a sausage biscuit from the Golden Arches of Hell and about a 1/4 cup serving of pot roast. Lesson here? McDonald's really is Satan's playground and red meat is as evil as everyone says. OK, the latter is not necessarily true. I think I might be okay with a lean ground round or something. Our suspicion is that the fat and grease, as well as the difficulty that a healthy body has processing red meat were just too much. I can live with that. I also found sweets to be a big issue as well. I stuck with slightly salty foods and really did just fine. I must add here that while effective, cancer is a shitty diet. I have lost about 8 pounds in the last week. I think next to figuring out what I can and cannot eat, getting up in the middle of the night to eat has been an adjustment.

A week has passed since my first treatment. The first 4 or 5 days were pretty rough, but not really that bad. The last 2 days, I have felt great. I am still sleeping about 12 hours a night, but I have not needed a nap during the day. Also, I have been able to eat whatever I wanted to, just in small portions.

I have to say, that without my family and my wife as traveling companions on this journey, it would be so much worse. All of you, with your words of encouragement, prayers, candles and "just checking in on you's" have been worth more than you will ever know. I love you all.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Chemo Brain

I have done my research and talked to other survivors, and the one thing that is consistent about chemo, is that you can't predict how it will affect you. Every one's experience is different. A few things Dr. Cancer has assured me of: I will loose my hair around week 3 or 4, and he will load me up with enough medicine that I should never be sick to my stomach or vomit. That is somewhat comforting. I have previously written that the hair loss does not bother me, although the loss of my eyelashes just seems beyond weird. I have been assured that gone are the days of experiences like in " Dying Young". What concerns me is "chemo brain".

What is chemo brain? Apparently, the drugs used for this phase of cancer treatment, causes "mild cognitive impairment". This can include the inability to multi-task, lack of focus, forgetting dates, names, and um...those things, yeah, words. This is supposed to be mostly temporary. Mostly. I have always prided myself on being fairly intelligent. It concerns me that this particular aspect of myself I might loose. I guess I can only hope that if it does become a permanent side effect I will have lost enough cognitive ability that I won't even notice it.

Now that we have an actual schedule for my chemo treatments, the reality is setting in. I feel like setting up a countdown clock, we are T-minus 5 days for massive amounts of poison being pumped into your body. I do not think that this is one of my more productive ideas. I have been thinking a lot about hair loss again. I haven't changed my mind, the thought of not having to shave is rather exciting, and I am not at all upset about loosing the hair on my head or my eyebrows. What still concerns me, is loosing my eyelashes. I really think that the only thing that was going to keep my from looking like a freckled bowling ball was my eyelashes. It was suggested, and I am not ashamed to admit that I did not think of it. It seems wrong for me to even consider it. I say this because it seems false, no pun intend, since I do not plan on wearing a wig to cover the baldness on my head. That, and it's just not me.

Now there are some good things that have happened. Since moving back in with my parents, I have spent more time with my nephew, The Boy. What a huge blessing this has been. Before all this started, he knew me, but we hadn't spent much time together. We have really bonded. Now, I am no MiMi and I never will be, but I am Auntie Sara and that's a pretty good thing. He frequently seeks me out for help with feeding Melvin, our Betta fish, and now, he associates me with fishing, or what he calls fishing. Since he is a 5 year old boy, you can't tell him he's not doing it right, because it's right for HIM, and ultimately that's what matters. His idea of fishing, is to take one of my many plastic worms, carefully place it on his hook, all by himself, then cast it out. He immediately reels it back in, declares "This one isn't working" and proceeds to get another one out. The Boy has no patience, and let's face it, that is about 90% of fishing, but he has fun and he is with Auntie Sara, and that is all that matters in my book.

The other good thing is my relationship with my Mom. We have spent more time together in the last 5 months than we have in the last 5 years, and I am loving it. Even just the little stuff like a trip to Wal-mart. We laugh and talk and laugh some more. The laughing is the most therapeutic part for me, and honestly my favorite. Growing up, mom always did fun stuff with us, but I don't remember her laughing with me. It was usually my dad and I, and our now infamous "Pun Wars" in the kitchen, but not not her. Now, we crack jokes and poke fun at each other. She has always been my mom, but for the first time in my life, I feel like she is my friend too. That is just an odd transition for me. I am not sure that this ever would have happened without the cancer.

So for all the unpleasantness that has come with the cancer, so much good has come from it too. I want you all to find the good in your shitty situations, It's there, you just have to find it. I know I did.