Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm Still Dog-paddling, But It's Getting Harder....

First of all, God is good, and my blood levels were great at my last blood check! I know it's only because of all of your prayers. Thank you so much. I go for another blood draw this Thursday, just to make sure everything is ready for chemo on Friday. I always take all kinds of stuff to keep me busy : books, puzzles, cross-stitch, etc., but so far, since I take the Rituxin first and they give me IV Benadryl, I'm not awake for most of the day. Maybe this time I'll cut down on the stuff. But not the snacks, or D won't know what to do.
It's been a long week...mainly because I think it's finally setting in that this is going to be a long process. One of my friends that has been through chemo mentioned that it would probably be a year before my hair gets to come back. I had read that...somewhere...but to hear it, and finally realize it, was quite a blow. My loving husband always says that I'm beautiful no matter what, and that HE'S USED TO ME BEING BALD (like that's a good thing), but I still can't look in any mirror that I pass, and I really miss my hair. I really miss being able to just jump in the car and go shopping without stopping first to grab something to cover up my head so I don't scare the normals.
I also am realizing that teaching this year is going to be really hard and tiring and the pits. I still have headaches all the time, and I tire easily, and I cry at the drop of a hat, and that is on my good week. All my drama training means I can put on a great, cheerful front and convince everyone that I'm on top of everything...for a while. But it's wearing thin. And I feel like I'm swimming the Atlantic...and I just got out of sight of land. There's a lot of swimming ahead.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The return of the body...not so much the brain

Well, I'm now one week and three days post Round 2 of the chemo, and my body is pretty well back to normal. I did have a blinding migraine, or 'sick headache' as we rednecks always called it, on Sunday, along with a nice assortment of canker sores in the mouth. They usually only last one or two days, but they are fairly annoying while they are here. I'm washing my mouth with salt water, which helps, but does anyone out there have any other remedies?
My brain, however, has developed what the ladies on ChemoChicks.com refer to as chemo brain. I drift along in a fairly pleasant fog, not always sure what day it is without checking half a dozen times as I go through the day, not having a clue what important things I'm missing. I missed my doc checkup last Friday...didn't know it was Friday until about 1:30 in the afternoon. I've missed taking kids to lessons, etc. because nothing in my brain went off. You moms know what I'm talking about, the little alarm clock that goes off when you get up: "ALERT!!! This is MONDAY, people, which means S has a dentist appt. at 10, and you promised to drop off J to play with his friends, and K wanted to get her hair cut, so EVERYBODY BETTER GET MOVING!" I miss this voice. Now when I wake up...there's a gentle breeze blowing softly in my chemo-damaged brain, and some faint wind chimes out there, but no organization. Sigh.
I hope this fades with time, because it's going to be awfully hard to teach when your mind wanders and then forgets its way back. And now this fall, I'll be trying to get my brain around lesson plans in two languages. That ought to be interesting. If any of you home school moms that skim over this blog have any helpful tips for teaching German, I would adore to hear them. I've taught for twenty years, but never tried to put together a coherent :) foreign language program. Entschuldigung Sie, bitte!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Another one bites the dust....

Well, I haven't written for a while, because I did have chemo last week, plus the power cord to our laptop got chewed up/destroyed (oh, the addiction!!!). The night before my chemo, K, J, and I went to a late movie, and were headed back about 9:30 the back way home. Out of nowhere, a young girl T-bones me. I didn't even see her coming, although K did, and managed to yelp something right before she hit me. J, as always totally oblivious, thought I HAD RUN OVER A LARGE PIECE OF PLASTIC. Well, considering what modern cars are made of, he was close. It had been raining, and she spun me around 180 degrees before I could stop. She pulled into a nearby gas station, and then came running to the van, totally in hysterics. God is good, and the van was hit in the one place that would protect us -- the solid post between the driver's door and the sliding door. After I made sure the kids were okay, I hopped out of the van...totally forgetting I wasn't wearing a bandanna. If she hadn't been out of her mind before, she would have been from the sight of my bald head getting out of the van she had just crashed. I reassured her (myriad times) that we were not hurt, we were not mad at her, everything was going to be okay, it was all right, don't cry, etc. Later, after the cops and D and her parents were there, we were sitting in D's car...did I mention it was raining???? And I started giggling...I should have jumped out of the van and said, "MY HAIR!!! I had hair when you hit me!! You hit me so hard my hair fell off!!!!" I know. I'm bad....very bad....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Welcome to the Predni - zone

Yes, it's 4:21 a.m., and I am awake. With the fluffiness that is our Isabella cat. Everyone else is asleep, but they're not on prednisone. Hah! The loopy thing about this stuff is that you can doze off for an hour, and wake up, and doze off again, and it seems like days have passed. Real Twilight Zone stuff. You can tell my vocabulary and syntax are at all time highs right now.
I really wanted to post something of a thank you to all of my family -- spread out all over the US, who are praying for me, and putting me on their church prayer lists. And my friends and church family and co-workers and co-workers of my husband's, and people I've never met in my life. It really humbles you to hear of people praying for you when they never heard of you before, and seeing the result in my life. If you are one of these people, thank you. My family and I deeply appreciate it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to Keep Busy when you can't read or watch TV

Well, God is good, and answers prayers! My blood counts are up enough to have chemo tomorrow, and I'm getting prepared. (Meaning I bought lots of snacks to keep D happy) The best thing is, I found a wonderful website to help combat the long hours when I'm restless/ can't sleep/can't read or watch TV because the anti-nausea medicine blurs my vision. Go to LibriVox.org. They have out-of-copyright books on mp3 files, that people have recorded. It's very easy to download and play; mine plays on my computer very easily. Those of you that know me, know I'm very technochallenged, but I managed to do it without problem. And D "burned" some of the books off onto CDs for me, so I can play them on my CD player. Now I can listen to classic Andre Norton, H. Rider Haggard (Allan Quatermain), Rudyard Kipling, and Jack London stories, even at 3 a.m. There are even volunteer opportunities -- reading books aloud to put on the site, or listening/proofreading. I have proof-listened to one book, but I don't think I can read a book aloud, since Shiva (the lovebird that thinks she's a Rottweiler) never shuts up. I don't think anyone wants to listen to Charles Dickens with her screaming in the background at anything and everything.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Shaving is hard to do

Well, Thursday was Mom's 95th birthday, and we took cake and ice cream over to celebrate. Later on that evening, I noticed that clumps of my skimpy hair were coming out. Great. I really thought I would lose my hair first on the top of my scalp, since that was the place that really itched/hurt. But no -- I've lost most of the hair on the sides, right over my ears. All day today I've been molting steadily, feeling like I've just gotten a haircut, with all the little prickly cut hairs poking the back of my neck and covering my shirt. So I'm to the shaving stage, only that shaving my head is not at all like shaving my legs. Every 1/4 square inch, I have to stop and clean out the razor with a washrag, and it is going to take FOREVER!!
At the doctor's today, my white blood cell count is not bouncing back like it should, and if it drops too low, I can't get chemo on schedule next Friday. Please pray that my blood counts rise to where they should be so I can continue with my treatment.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I did it!

Well, Monday was our 19th wedding anniversary. Months ago, D and I had watched a PBS show on slingshots, and he had remarked that they were pretty cool. So I bought two slingshots and paintballs for our anniversary! We spent a few minutes shooting hot pink paintballs at an innocent tree, then went out to Texas Roadhouse for steak. To top off the evening, we went walking around the mall...then I GOT MY HAIR BUZZED!!!!!!!!!!! The woman at MasterCuts was very sweet, and was very careful. The only thing she said was, "Don't cry, or I'll cry,too." Remarkably, once my hair was cut, my scalp has really calmed down, so I guess the statement that the length of your hair aggravates the scalp is true. Now I can rub lotion into my scalp also to soothe it. I saw one of my former students, and he thought I was going into the army, since my hair's about 1/4 of an inch long.
Today S and I went to Springfield to buy a b-day present for Mom, and we went shopping around. I came home with a long scarf, two silky bandanna-type thingies, and a silky headband. So with my three hats I've made (I'm working on a reversible kiwi slice print/blueberry print one), my head will be better dressed than any other part of my body.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

This side is tingling....

I feel like the old Selsun Blue shampoo commercials. My scalp is tingling. Actually, it's more like an itch. Have you ever had a sunburn on your scalp, and then when you went to scratch it, it stings/burns?? That's what the top of my head feels like. Which isn't a good sign, from what I read. I am taking three chemo drugs, two of which cause "profound hair loss" and one of which causes "moderate hair loss". As I said, everything I can find says that if you've got the itchy/tingly/sore scalp, hair loss is on its way. I already had my hair cut from my shoulderblades to the bottom of my ears, but I think it may be time for more drastic action. One site I read said that if you shave off your hair, the soreness is lessened, because there isn't any hair pulling on your scalp. Makes sense, I guess.
K's boyfriend said I need to get Bicked. (I haven't a clue how to spell that.) I just looked at him, not sure whether I should slap him or thank him. Apparently that means to get your hair cut very close, 1/2 inch or so. I'm wavering. I know D loves my hair, and DOES NOT WANT a bald wife, but I really resonated with one site I read -- www.chemochicks.com -- that choosing to shave your head is one thing you can control. I mean, when you have cancer you sit here, lay there, have sharp objects poked at you more times than I can count, deal with the dizziness, nausea, etc., on THEIR timetable. I really want to shave my head on MY terms. I don't mean I want to shave my own head. Someone professional can. How could anyone shave the back of their own head??
I sewed my own do-rag yesterday, but it turned into this lame looking thing. Then I printed off a bucket hat pattern and did one in red/white/blue. It turned out so well that J stole it. I had to make him one in flames/Chinese dragons before I got mine returned. That boy is incorrigible!