Thursday, January 18, 2018

Week In, Week Out

I'm not doing well at this whole being home and still blogging thing, am I? Sorry about that. I think I get tired of talking about chemo and cancer and there's just so much sleeping (or not sleeping) to do.

On the topic of chemo, Taxol is definitely easier than the first stuff I was one. But the biggest side effect, for me, of the whole Taxol process is the steroid insomnia that kicks in on Tuesday night. This week, I slept not at all on Tuesday night. Literally, not at all. I laid in bed for maybe twenty minutes, read for bit, got up and cleaned some of the clutter in the toy room, read a little more, and just...didn't sleep.

I took a three hour nap yesterday (Wednesday) and plowed through the day.

It appears I'm much more of a morning person when morning just kind of happens without me sleeping. I was quite cheerful yesterday, without the annoying sound of the alarm waking me up than I was this morning after eight-ish hours of sleep and being woken by the alarm.

So far in the time I've been home, the girls have had not even one full week of school. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, sure, it's great when they're around but then I feel a bit guilty about sleeping when they're here and awake. But I'm tired from both the chemo and the insomnia so I sleep and then feel bad and then don't sleep when they're sleeping and it's a vicious cycle.

I'm still playing the go-between for Tom and Alyssa. Ugh. Those two...

Alyssa turned fifteen last Sunday. We had a birthday party for her. Because she's now so busy with pep band, play practice, solo and ensemble sessions, we didn't have a slumber party for her. This was much to Tom's delight. He never enjoyed having six or seven girls over for the night. But Alyssa loved it so much and so it was a bit of a battle this year between them. I understand both side. She only has one birthday a year, she wants to celebrate it with her friends. She has a lot of friends and never wants any of them to feel left out.

He hates company, period. But having that many people in the house for that long really bothers him. I'm not a big fan of company and the older these friends get, the bigger they all get and it is a lot of people.

In the end, with Lyss's schedule, it made more sense to have an afternoon party (noon to six!) on Sunday. It worked. They didn't stay the night, they still had fun, there was a very clear end in sight for Tom. I'm not sure anyone was exactly happy with it but the compromise worked.

This morning there was a little more chaos as they fought of cereal. I know! It's so stupid. It was the case of the mixed cereal. Alyssa hates it when he mixes cereals. For example, we have Lucky Charms and Froot Loops. Tom has been known to put some of each into a bowl and expect the girls to eat them. Olivia does so without complaint. Alyssa declares it gross.

This morning she stood at the counter and tried to pick the Froot Loops out of her Lucky Charms. He told her if she did that, tomorrow she'd only get Froot Loops. She got mad, wondering why he'd make such a declaration. She prefers Lucky Charms to Froot Loops and honestly, if you're going to let your kid eat either one, what difference does it make which one she chooses? They're both laden with sugar and pretty much NOT nutritious, right? I think one of them (I won't name names) just likes to make declarations because he/she can and expects them to be followed.

It's frustrating.

Finally, trying to defuse the situation so she could just eat her stupid cereal. I said gently, "I wouldn't want to eat mixed cereal."

OMG.

Once I'd given my opinion, apparently, I'd taken sides and one of them was mad.

But, Alyssa was happy because she got her bowl of Lucky Charms only and that made even the snarky comments coming from the other side of the room worth it.

I don't know. I hate it when they do that.

I also kind of hate arbitrary rules made simply because someone feels they CAN make rules. So there's that.

Yep, it feels like each week is just blending into the next. I start to feel really good on Sundays, knowing that Tuesday is right around the corner.

I probably need to find a job sooner than later.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Chemo Chronicals - Take...I Don't Even Know

Last week I had my third infusion of Taxol. The first two weeks were okay. I was tired from the Benadryl both times and slept for about two hours after getting home from the chemo appointment.

I think I've had a bit of steroid insomnia on the first couple of nights after receiving Taxol. I receive a steroid and Benadryl to help stave off allergic reactions to the Taxol. By Wednesday evenings (after receiving Taxol on Tuesday) I get a weird red spot on my right cheek. I take a dose of Benadryl and it goes away. So...yeah.

My intestines seem to tolerate the Taxol better than they did the cocktail of chemo from the first eight weeks. That's my polite way of saying my poop is more normal these days. Not so much constipation followed by diarrhea. That's always a plus.

This week it's taken much longer to bounce back. I've been very tired and achy for days and days. Poor me.

I cried yesterday, much to Tom's dismay. He didn't know what to do. I told him to just let me cry and I'd be okay. He held me for quite a while, which was sweet. I'm not even really sure what brought on the tears. There's a bit of stress in our house as Alyssa's birthday looms and she wants a big slumber party and Tom is adamantly against it. I'm feeling very much torn between them. And I don't like that. I don't want to be in the middle. But I understand both sides and that makes them both come to me with their frustrations with each other.

Anyway, the tears subsided and I was fine.

My mouth hurts this time. It feels like there are a couple of sore spots. I've rinsed with warm salt water (suggested by several of the books/pamphlets given to me by my chemo nurses.) I'm not sure it's helped but I know it hasn't hurt. It's just so weird to have my stupid tongue hurt.

I got the call from the nurse today that my labs look good so we're on for chemo tomorrow. Wheee!!

I feel lucky that I get to recuperate at home. These weird aches and pains and bouts of sadness crop up with little warning and so being at home where I can snuggle under a blanket when I need to do so helps so much.

Each day is one day closer to being done. I'm holding on to that. I didn't get much done around the house this week but...well, I'm getting out of bed every day. I count that as a positive.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

No Resolutions

There will be no resolutions for 2018, at least not for me. Tom's resolved to eat less bread. I know. Whatever.

I've decided that getting through chemotherapy, finding a new job, organizing my house at least a little, well, that's enough. And I'm even making resolutions to do those things. I can't resolve to get through chemo. It'll just happen because, well, it has to. I also have to find a new job come March/April, so there's that.

The organization of the house...since I'm home with time on my hands, well, it'll happen, though probably slowly. Wait, maybe not!! I've already organized the coat tree/backpack/shoe drop area by the garage door. I packed about seventy-two pairs of Alyssa's shoes and one pair of Olivia's in a basket and deposited them in the girls' rooms this morning. I also took all the extra coats (three for Alyssa) and jackets (thirty-six for Olivia) to their respective rooms as well. Why do two children have SO MANY pairs of shoes (Alyssa!) and jackets (Olivia!) It's winter. I left both of their boots by the back door as well as left plenty of room for the coats they currently have with them at school to be hung on the tree. Now that the extra coats and jackets are off the tree, it looks much more like a tree bare of it's leaves in the winter. Ha, look me and my simile.

But the whole act of making resolutions this year feels like too much. Give up caffeine? Are you insane? Maybe when chemo is done, sure. But right now? No freaking way.

Watch what I eat? Why? I get scolded for losing a single pound from week to week by the nurses at chemo. There will be no watching calories or junk food, thank you very much. On the bright side...(I guess) I was exactly the same weight this week as I was last week. In my opinion, that same weight is TOO MUCH weight but whatever. I'll deal with that later too.

I guess I could resolve to take more baths. I do love a hot bath. But I'm currently taking probably four to five baths a week (and showering most days, so yeah, bathing twice a day quite often) so that's just silly.

I could try and be nicer to my husband and children but when you have a handy excuse as chemo brain, well, who am I not to take advantage of that? Not a saint, that's who.

So here's to 2018. The year without resolutions.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Worst Case Scenario

Back when I first starting having pain in the upper outer quadrant of my left breast, I figured, "It can't possibly cancer."

I mean, that would be the worst case scenario, right?

Then, when the doctor felt the thickening and sent me for an ultrasound I still thought there was no way it was cancer. Other people get cancer, but not me and those closest to me.

The day of the ultrasound, they found the mass. They did a biopsy that day. Still, it couldn't be cancer. I mean, I have two kids who need me. I have parents who would be devastated to lose me. Yes, I'm just like every other woman in the world who has loved ones but still, it couldn't be cancer. Heck, even the doctor who talked to me on the phone the day of the ultrasound and biopsy told me the chances of it being cancer were very small.

The weekend after the ultrasound/biopsy, I told my mom often that the chances of my mass being cancer were very small. I was just sure it was nothing.

It was something. When I saw that I had a missed call from my doctor on Sunday afternoon, I knew. I mean...doctors don't call on a Sunday with good news. I had time to brace myself for the news. The worst case scenario news.

Except...even though it's triple negative cancer, it wasn't the worst case scenario. Sure, cancer is a hard word to hear but being told it's stage 1 helps. The mass was small, we'd caught it early.

Every step of the way from the day of diagnosis until now has worked out in a 'best-case-scenario' kind of way.

When I met with the oncologist and we discussed the plan of action for my treatment, he told me, "This chemo will make you lose your hair."

Okay.

I was okay with that. I told myself my hair was a small price to pay to buy decades of life and health with my family.

But deep down, the thought of being bald bothered me. Wouldn't it bother most people?

And get this...not all chemotherapy drugs make you lose your hair. Why did I have to have one of them that practically guarantees it? I didn't lament this long but I confess that I did think about it more than I wanted to.

But you know what? The worst case scenario of losing my hair hasn't been so bad. Now that it's gone, it's just...not a big deal. I look at myself every single day and it's not a big deal. It's just hair. It will probably grow back.

I'm living through a couple of worst case scenarios here. What I take away from that sentence is that I'm living. I'm here. I'm fighting for years with my girls, with my husband, who has been a champion caregiver. I'm getting years with my parents and my brothers. I'm alive and I'm still fighting. Cancer hasn't beaten me physically and baldness hasn't beaten me emotionally.

It's amazing when the worst case scenarios come true and you realize that they aren't nearly as scary as you thought they would be. You just keep on getting up each day and living your life. The worry before the diagnosis was worse than living day to day with the diagnosis.

Maybe I can take that forward with me into 2018. I'm definitely going to try.

Here I am...all bald and handling it just fine:


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Figuring Things Out

I'm not sure how to do this. I mean, I've worked my entire life. I've had a job since I was sixteen, with a couple of months here and there where I didn't. So this is new. It helps that right now, it's Christmas break and the girls are home. But when they go back to school...things will be weird.

I have so much I want to do around the house, things that have been on the backburner basically since we moved in over seven years ago. Rooms need to be organized, closets need to be cleaned out.

And yet, there's still weekly chemo that I'll need to work around. So far my biggest complaint about this current chemo is the dry, red eyes I'm experiencing. I hope that's normal. Who knows? I guess I can ask the nurses when I go back on Wednesday.

But who am I if I'm not working? If I'm not a HR representative...who am I?

I'm Lyss's and Liv's mom. I'm Tom's wife. I'm Evelyn's daughter and Jason's and Mitchell's sister. But who am I besides those things?

I guess now is the time to figure that out. Am I the person who goes back to bed after the girls are on the bus? Will I stay up and actually accomplish things on a daily basis?

I admit to being inherently lazy. I do like my sleep. And bonus! I have the excuse of chemo for wanting needing more sleep. So I guess we'll see how much I use the chemo excuse now that I'm not working and can't use that as my reason for wanting a nap after lunch on a day when I rolled out of bed at 9am.

All I really know is that 2018 better bring nothing but awesomeness.

2017 has kind of sucked, if you want the truth. We'll be happy to say good riddance to 2017 and ring in 2018. 2018 is going to be the year for figuring it all out.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cupcake?

I started the new chemo on Tuesday. There were lots of dire warnings about this chemo. It's Taxol. The nurses went on and on about allergic reactions. They talked about how they'd treat any reactions. They talked about how important it was to do the first treatment in Fort Wayne where there is plenty of staff to watch over me while the chemo was being administered because of the risk of a reaction.

Before they even started the actual chemo I was given three different meds that were supposed to stop any potential reactions before they started. The three medicines were a steroid, Benedryl, and Pepsid. All of these were given through my port.

Can I just say right here that getting Benedryl intravenously makes it take affect almost immediately. I could feel my mouth drying up, my speech started slur and the sleepiness kicked in before I even really realized it.

But, on the bright side, I didn't have any of the potential allergic reactions. I 'behaved' just as the nurses told me to.

As I dozed while the chemo was dripping into my port, I heard a volunteer a few chairs down from me. She was offering someone a cupcake.

I will confess right here that the offer of a cupcake woke me right up. It stopped that Benedryl drowsiness right in its tracks.

Who knew a cupcake could have such power?

By the way...that was a delicious cupcake.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

End of an Era

Yesterday I finished up a 17 year run at my job. The plant where I worked is closing next Friday for good. Because of this, I decided to take long-term disability starting today.

Non-coincidentally, I start weekly chemo today. So there's that.

I enjoyed my work. I was lucky enough to work with people who were mostly kind, mostly hard-working. Sure, there were bumps in the road over the seventeen years but they were good years.

And now...I start my time off. I start my journey toward getting well, getting healthy, being strong for my family and for myself.

Here's to the new chapter.