Monday, July 25, 2011

Day one. Week 1. Round 4.

Well, then there are these dips. Today is a dip day. I had my treatment this morning for about 5 hours and then went to lunch with Heather. Felt fine enough that we came home a did a tiny bit of cleaning. The mouse problem in my kitchen drawers has not gone away even after we tried scented Bounce dryer sheets. The mice just adapted, making nests of the sheets. The smell of the scented sheets is more than I can stand so we emptied out all the sheets and put everything in them in the wash or in the sink.

And then I quit, went to read and take a nap which was just one hour but was one of those completely out naps.

Now I'm up with tingly fingers and a craving for a vanilla milkshake. I do not want to go out and I'm having a hard time finding anyone who can help. I would like watermelon too. I even posted on Facebook and the response has been tepid. Well, one person said yes, but in 2 hours and one person said yes but she lives FAR from here. And others are not home or are not responding. This is the tough stuff. I just don't feel good and would like some help. Also my calves are twingy.

News flash!! The faraway person called and is on the way. I feel like collapsing in relief. It's such a dumb thing. But I feel very delicate and it will be nice to have those things.

It feels like I am being prepared for surgery. No Avastin today. If I have surgery they want me to be off Avastin for 1 month, as it makes one's blood thinner and is not a good complement to surgery. I'll see Dr. Goldberg on August 18 and will find out then what the plan is. I feel anticipatory disappointment at the idea of having surgery - as if I SHOULD (there's that word...) be able to will it away. And I am trying to hold both in my heart. That I WILL have surgery and that it will be okay and not too difficult AND that I WON'T have surgery because there are no more cells that need to be removed. Hard to hold such disparate things at the same time. I am ALSO trying to be present-oriented, telling myself that now is now and then will be then and there is nothing to be gained by focusing on the what ifs and the scoldings.

The truth is, this is a fucking hard thing to do and it is hard to feel gratitude on Day one, though it IS true that I AM grateful for the availability to me of the treatment and the doctors and such. But I do sink too. I'm mostly showing the up side to this all in public writing and when people see me. But today I don't feel up.

There is today's truth. That and the fact that I am 1/3 done (well, I will be at the end of this week.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Treatment Eve

I so love the Not-treatment weeks. The days stretch out, gloriously long, filled only with good thoughts and strong feelings and the idea that I am completely fine. The feeling of fear starts to creep in around Wednesday and builds until now - Sunday night. But I went to dinner and a movie tonight and that helped - except that the father in the movie had stage 4 cancer and died from it and that was hard to hear. But the good part about the movie and dinner was I did not dwell on tomorrow very much.

People are telling me how they admire me and my bravery and courage. I must say I don't really feel brave, just sort of tenacious. I am allowing myself to sleep or take time just for me and I don't know if that is tenacious. Maybe, I think, when I feel judgmental, being so selfish is not the right way to be. Maybe I should force myself to DO more, to go to work for a longer period of time each day, to go to an exercise class and to just plain old DO more, be productive or something. But what I AM doing is going to work for just a couple of hours, going home, having lunch, taking a nap, taking Tye for a walk, going home again and watching tv until I am sleepy. Is that brave? I'm not sure.

So tomorrow I go for another treatment. I am nervous that the side effects (affects?) will get stronger and that I will not feel well. The pins and needles in my fingers gets worse each time to the degree that I could not type for a couple of days the last time. I hope it does not get much worse.

And I am fortunate that it doesn't matter if I go to work or not. The team has things under control. So if what I need to do is sleep, I can. And there is no need spending a whole lot of time worrying about the possibility (probability?) of surgery. I see the doctor in August and will find out then. In the meantime I am going to go to Vermont for a week for a break from this routine. Funny to say I "need" a break, but it is true and it will be good.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Feeling good

Tuesday of a Week #2 is a good thing. I feel regular today. A slight tang in my mouth, a tiny bit of finger tingling, but good energy, good spirit, good feelings. I am happy to have the remainder of this week to feel good and I am hoping that the treatments continue with no noticeable decline in my health.

I have one more session and then go to Chapel Hill for another evaluation. I found out today that Dr. Goldberg is moving to Ohio but he has agreed to continue to consult with me. I'll confirm this when I see him in August.

Right now I am wondering if there is a possibility that I will not have to have surgery. I really don't want to have such a large incision - completely across my belly. But, on the other hand, if that is what it takes to be confident that no rogue cells exist, I guess the surgery is the best option. Just feeling kind of grumpy about it.

And I'm also thinking about work. I have really not been present at work in a serious way since starting treatment, or even before - since the surgery. I had never spent so much time at home, so much time doing not very much. But I am slowing down and am not necessarily hyped about jumping back into the fray. The gang is doing a fine job of managing and even the smallest things are not interesting to me right now. Actually, they kind of turn my stomach, even the smallest things - like trying to help solve the problem of where to fry chicken for 600 people in September. Funny, the distance is making me really think about what I want to do and how I want my life to be. I'm not convinced that I want it to be the way it has been. This is a major wake up call and I am trying to listen to the messages I'm getting.

I started working on my book today - mostly just organizing things and getting ready more than I was.

Also today a big hatch happened in Hive # 1. I have not gone in to look for the Queen, but for the first time I saw a LOT of new bees climbing out of the hive entrance. Perhaps they were the babies that hatched from the brood I put in in June. Probably. It was fun to see that much activity. I glanced into the other hives and did not find full honey supers, though there are lots of bees in all hives. Still need to do a major exploration - a State of the Union, but not quite yet.

For now, good night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Groggy days

It is now Friday of my third Week 1. I've been very sleepy this week. And right now, though I am at work, i feel like I could easily go back to sleep or the entire day. how does one cope with this? Just say, well, I'm tired, I'll just sleep? Or does one try to fight it, see if I can accomplish something? It doesn't seem to work that way, sadly. Yesterday I came to work, stayed for about 1 hour, and went home where i slept until 1. I was then awake for a couple of hours. took a three hour nap, went to a meditation session, and then went home to sleep for the entire night. And the day before I woke up at 5, read until 7, slept until 11, went for a treatment - during which I dozed, and went home where I took a 3 hour nap before having dinner with Whitney. Home and in bed by 9:30. Whew.

I guess the main thing to say is that I must really need this sleep. Today I woke up fairly alert, as if emerging from a thick fog. I guess this is what Week 1 looks like these days.

The really good thing about this is that the gang at work have things well under control, so I am not missed, in terms of getting anything accomplished. I feel very fortunate that they can cover for me. One of the many positive aspects of going through this.

I'm considering going to Vermont in August to hook up with the bikers on the Northern Tier. It's odd to feel intimidated by that excursion, not unlike the idea of riding for 100 miles. I wonder if I can manage. I felt pretty good last week, (week 2) so I trust I'll be okay. It's disconcerting to feel so wobbly. I cling to Heather and to friends here, knowing that they can be with me in a few minutes if I need help. Stepping out to Vermont, plane flights, carrying luggage, driving a distance...all feel intimidating. But instead of succumbing to the intimidation, I'm going to try to do it.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Early morning on Day 3

This is my third Day 3 of Week 1. Translation: I get a major infusion of drugs on Monday. When I leave the office I have a little pump that I wear until Day 3 at which point it is disconnected. It makes a little noise, seemingly innocuous, but annoying. It does not let me forget I am connected and being infused with drugs. I guess its preferable to being connected in a hospital bed. I get to go anywhere I want. Not a big hardship - except for the constant reminder of being a person who is receiving chemotherapy.

I'm tired these days. I go to work, putter around for a couple of hours. usually managing to accomplish one small thing, like balancing my personal checking account or weighing in on some minor work situation. By 11 I start to fade and go home. Right now, the Tour de France is on television, so I watch that until I cannot keep my eyes open and then go take a nap - a couple of hours. Last night I went to Whitney's and had dinner with him and his children. By 9 I was spent and went home and right to bed.

Next week, Week 2 is, in my short experience, a week of more energy and less concentration on being in treatment. Last week felt almost normal. I went to hear Laurie Lewis three times and had dinner with her on another occasion. I went to work, felt normal, took Tye for a walk a few times, and tried to remember that I am a person who is more than someone in treatment.

And now, today, I am ready to be done with Treatment #3. 1/4 of the way done. 3 down, 9 to go. Single digits! I drift, on occasion, to thoughts of purification, to the image of my body, cleansed and cancer-free. I imagine going to Chapel Hill and seeing the doctor and having him say that the tumors are all gone and I do not have to have surgery after all. That yes, I need to finish the treatment, but without the surgery. But I'm also trying not to get too fixated on that, as it would be a huge disappointment if I had my heart set on it and it didn't happen.

We'll see.

So now, maybe a little more napping until it is time to go to work.

In other notes: I feel good, look good, get comments to that effect, and am generally relieved to not have things worse than they are.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Iron Woman

Well, this IS a collection of thoughts about what is going on in my life right now, and, as such, does not really need to be all Pollyanna all the time. Yesterday was an example of a tough day.

I needed Iron, I was told. And so we scheduled it for yesterday. Fridays are usually not a treatment day. I go in on Monday, get a few hours of "treatment" (i.e. chemotherapy or, as I prefer to call it, the Magic Elixir or The Golden Elixir). And then, when I leave at the end of the treatment, I wear a pump home for the next two days which gives me a slow infusion of more drugs. I go back in to have the pump removed on Wednesdays and at that time I get "hydration" - saline water. But on week 1 I ended up dehydrated and cramping and in the hospital for the weekend so they decided to try more hydration on the Friday of my second treatment.

Oh, and Iron.

Well, the hydration is not a big deal. I have a "port" which is a place under my collarbone where they can put drugs into my blood without sticking my arm. It hurts, but not a whole lot. And I had had 3 treatment or hydration sessions and was feeling okay about everything, kind of knowing what to expect. I was told that the Iron would take a long time and there might me side affects but I was not ready for the two page list of possible things that could happen to me. And when the nurse read them to me and told me of all the things that might happen I was very frightened.

I mean, I had never been told that something I was about to willingly accept might make me violently nauseous or might make me have heart palpitations or worse. But I have had low energy and if your "counts" are low, you might have to skip a treatment and I do not want to slow things down at all so I signed the paper and tried to both brace for and willingly accept the test dose of Iron.

The nurse sat with me. Heather did too, holding my hand as I gripped hers. I cried. Who, after all, wants to get instantly, violently sick? In a room full of people? Or not, for that matter. But then I tried to breathe easily and tell myself that it was good, it was going to make me strong, it was going to make me better. And the test dose dripped in and was okay and then the real bag of Iron came and it, too, went into my port and then, a long time later, we were done.

I spent today near home. They warned me I might have more affects today but I didn't. I actually feel pretty good. No fever. No chills. No odd sensations. Nothing, except a residue of anxiety that I am trying, still, to shed. It is slipping away. Slowly.

In the meantime, my hives of bees are doing very well. Lots of bees fly around my yard. And yesterday, while I was getting the Iron, my friend Debra came and visited the hive that had not had a Queen. She found 3 Queen cells, the makings of three new Queens. It seems that these bees are doing what they need to keep themselves going. To me this is a huge relief. The bees made it through the winter last year but will not last if they don't have a Queen who lays eggs which turn into workers who do the work that needs to be done to make it through this coming winter.

And while I was getting the Iron, Debra sent me a note saying that she had found the makings of Queens. And by then I was well into the infusion and I was feeling better and the fright had dissolved a bit and the good news of the bees, once again, washed over me and filled me with gratitude and made me trust that it will be okay.