Monday, October 31, 2005

Of cookies, witches hats and kitties in baskets

Since today was Halloween, I thought I might cheer my doctors and nurses up by dressing the part. No, I didn't come as a human pincushion. Put on my pumpkin scarf, halloween cat earings and witches hat with the bat with one blinking eye. This outfit was a big hit everywhere I went.

Made cat face cookies (finally got all of the ingredients) and stuck them in baskets with chocolates (kitties in baskets). 1 basket with a dozen kitties for each team - Radiation, Nurses at Oncology station, Nurses in IV room. They all loved the cookies and loved the hat everywhere I went.

In the IV room, one of the nurses even came over and told me her patient wanted to see the cookies and the hat so I toured the IV room and then told them that I was a patient and had to go for my own treatment. It was fun and brought cheer to an otherwise dreary day!


Second treatment today. First with the port. My angel nurse Ora was not there today and I had Gayle. She was very nice. The first thing she had to do was stick the IV needle into my port. (That wasn't the nice part) In order to do this, she felt through my skin all around the sides of the port. (That wasn't the nice part either) It was very uncomfortable and I wanted to ask her if she realized that was my body and my nerves that she was poking at but she was so cheery and dedicated (That was the nice part) that I just grinned and beared it. Next she stuck the needle in. Ouch! I thought that wasn't supposed to hurt! IT DID. Then, she tried to flush it but it seemed plugged up. Brand new port and defective? Ah, but such was not the case. The needle was just in too far. At last, she was able to flush and hook up the IV and off we went with the Herceptin. This time they took my temp regularly to watch for fever and it remained steady at 97.1. Finished up and then flushed with Heparin to keep the port clear and we (Dad and me) were out of there.

Radiation 102

By now, I am so confused with radiation. Today, I went in and Lydia told me that the Doctor had changed my prescription and now I would only get the fake skin pad every other day. She didn't know what prompts him to change the prescription and I know even less. Guess I will have to ask him during my Thursday cattle call.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Where have all the popsicle sticks gone?

Thank goodness. No radiation this morning. Got to sleep in and read the paper (not at the same time). Decided to make Black Cat cookies for my nurses and doctors at both radiation and the infusion room for Halloween on Monday. The recipe looked really easy and I thought, "no problem". The problem came in trying to find the ingredients. First, I was looking for a Halloween bucket, flower pot, basket or some appropriate container to display them in. Safeway didn't seem to have anything until I found these little baskets - just the right size. And I thought that was the hard part.

I bought candy to fill the baskets and the ingredients for making the cookies. The cats' eyes are little pieces of candy corn. That was the next problem. Safeway had no candy corn. I dragged my weary self to Target and they had candy corn. Next problem solved.

The cat heads are baked on sticks so that you can stick them in the candy in the baskets like flowers. Safeway didn't have popsicle sticks or sticks of any kind. Neither did target. Target also didn't have the black and orange ribbon that I wanted to tie around the sticks. This "easy" project has proven very difficult. Now, after about 3 1/2 hours of shopping, I have to get up and go to Michael's tomorrow and hope that they have popsicle sticks!

Finally, I hope to find little plastics to wrap around the cookies and ribbon to tie it closed. And, sometime, I have to actually bake the cookies!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Good Dogs

I just came in at 6:30 this evening to find that I had forgotten to open the dog door this morning. My poor dogs were in the house all day long since the night before. They managed to keep their legs crossed and didn't mess the house. What good boys! They sure were glad when I got home though.

More Blog Lessons

Today I learned about comment spam. Knew I had not given out my blog to anyone except one friend. Was surprised to see comments on entries. When I went to read them, found that I didn't even know the people writing them. How frustrating and disgusting. Have now added confirmation of keyword to my settings and that is supposed to stop this kind of thing. Hope so.

Learning more each day......:)

Of eyebrows, eyelashes and hair

The eyebrows and eyelashes are starting to grow back in. I actually wasn't missing them for too long. They really finished following out after my last Taxol treatment on September 12. It is spooky because they all fall out from the roots so there isn't even a shadow of them left like if you shave. Having dark hair, it was strange for me to look in the mirror at the eyes that were now white rimmed instead of black where the eyelashes had once been. It gave them a spooky, bug-eyed look. The forehead looked overly large since the missing eyebrows left no trace and the eyes looked even more bug-eyed.

The eyelashes are now little, short, spiky things that can't even be picked up on a mascara brush yet. However, they have grown in enough to give me the black outline around my eyes instead of the ghostly, pale rim.

The eyebrows are all growing in at once and look like dirt smeared above my eyes. Still, it is beginning to look like I am returning from the alien back into the world of human beings.

As for the other hair, my leg hair started growing back with a vengeance. Wasted no time at all. Under my arms......hmmm........looks like something but not sure. Could have something to do with radiation. And down there, just starting with a prickliness that makes my underpants stick to me which is why some of you may have seen me walk a little funny - besides the balance thing which is a whole other story.

Oh, I forgot the most obvious, the hair on my head. Well that continues to grow out like a fuzzy sheepskin, although without the "odour" which Rich reported you get when petting a sheep. It is interesting to watch and see the widows' peak, swirls and hair direction as it grows out. The last time this happened was when I was too small to remember or, since I was born with a full head of hair, perhaps in the womb. Anyway, it is a daily fascination not at all unsimilar to watching the grass grow.

Not sure what the color will be yet. The wooly, Taxol silver is still all too obvious although most people still kindly call it blond. The Oncologist (Dr. Boohar) says that she sees a dark, reddish brown and thinks it will be that color. There is a dark lower layer to what has grown in but still hard to tell what the finished product will be. Not to worry, there is always hair dye to fix any unwanted colors!

Radiation 101

okay. I was mistaken or was it misinformed? The computer does not recalculate with every treatment. At least that is what Lydia told me today. They work off of the same calculation and if any changes need to be done, it goes back to the Physicist to change. I am guessing that is Teresa but not sure. So then I asked, "How do you know when to use the pads?" and Lydia told me that they are supposed to use them all of the time but sometimes they forget and I need to remind them. Hmmm... and this is supposed to be an exact science?

And today they took another x-ray. Beats me why. I have to save that for my next 45 second question session.

Radiation for Dummies

So I thought that radiation was a simple thing. Get your tattoos and then point and shoot. Not so. After asking many questions, which in themselves make me feel like a dummy when I ask them, especially when I get a vague answer like, "I don't know. It makes the radiation work better", I think I have the gist of what it does.

First you go in and get "staged". A CT scan is done and lots of x-rays. The stager (Teresa) and Oncologist (Dr. Lauther) draw all over your chest with a Black Sharpie Felt pen and tell you not to wash it off. Didn't your mother always tell you not to do that when you were a kid? Next, you walk around for about 5 days with the rectangles and dots on your chest until you go back for "confirmation". More x-rays and a check to see if all the info they entered into the computer still make the simulator match up with your lines and dots. If that is the case, the Sharpie comes out again and more lines and dots are drawn on. At last, if all is well, the tattoo needle comes out and you get 4 of the dots permanently tattooed on - a burning, needle in the skin sort of experience. Don't know how those with big tattoos do it.

The next day you come back and go to the treatment room, a whole new experience and team (Lydia and ? and ?). They have another machine that rotates around you to find your tattoos and then whirrs while you are being shot full of the "radiation". This happens 3 times a day for me for 28 days. No treatments on weekends or holidays. Guess cancer doesn't work then. How does it know?

During the treatments, Lydia and team, started putting a cold sheet that they refer to as the fake skin on my chest. It is supposed to fake out the computer to make it think that my skin is higher than it is so that the x-rays are brought to the surface of my scar. I asked if everyone gets this and was told no. I asked how they decide who gets it. Is it just for us lucky mastectomy patients? The answer was no and hmmmm...... the doctor decides who gets it. My doctor never mentioned it to me. The next day, Lydia is out sick and I ask Teresa. She says it is mostly for mastectomy patients since their treatment area is flat and close to the chest. It fools the machine into thinking it is higher.

Next thing I noticed was that every time the machine rotated down to my side, the team would come and put a big tray into it like those used for x-rays. I thought they were taking more x-rays but they informed me that those were also to fool the machine so that it would spread the x-rays out to cover the whole chest wall area. Sometimes they put these in and sometimes they don't. Depends on whether the computer determines that the machine needs fooling or not. Again, I don't know how that works.

I am thinking this radiation thing is much more complicated than we are lead to believe and am very curious about the computer thing, daily recalculations and fooling the machine. Like, "why is the sky blue?", this is probably something that will remain a mystery to me.........

Thursday, October 27, 2005

On to the real stuff

So now I think I have mastered the basics of blogging - posting and photo-sharing. Whew! What work. Anyway, thought I might actually post something of my day.

Got up late after a good night's sleep. Donned my Halloween Scarf with the pumpkins and Halloween Cat earings and rushed off to radiation - what fun. No redness yet. I was told that would come at the end - probably. Like everything else with treatment, every question is responded to with a very indefinite answer. After treatment, the techs informed me that I have a doctors appointment today. Surprise! Could they ever tell you this stuff in advance?

And I had so carefully scheduled WW to follow right after the treatment. Turns out that the Dr. sees every morning patient on Thursdays after their treatment. They line us all up in rooms and he goes from one to the next like an assembly line. I patiently waited and the Dr. came in. He asked how I was doing and said after 6 days he didn't expect any problems. With Breast Cancer patients it is always, "I have redness" and/or "I am tired". So much for the Drs. visit. He patted me on the back and sent me home.

I rushed to WW and was pleased to have lost 3.2 lbs. although it was really only the 3.2 I had put 2 weeks before after having spent the night in emergency getting hydrated after my 103 degree fever from the Herceptin.

Rushed home to do the dishes and a perfunctory pick up of the dining table and living room before my friend Mike came over to walk the dogs. Dogwalking was rather uneventful. I managed not to fall into any bushes. Afterword we headed off to breakfast and a walk through Los Altos. I did lose my balance and almost knock him into one of the big trash cans on Main Street. That was a good laugh.

Headed home and was intending to do some work but somehow got caught up in blog heaven and here I am. Think I will go rest and read my People before Survivor comes on.......

Time Sink

okay, so now I have spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out how to set this blog up and then how to link to flickr for the photo stream. I am only halfway there.........

Now for the next step. It all seemed so easy at first. I followed the instructions very carefully and closely but it still didn't work. Alas, I found an error in the instructions that was keeping me from accomplishing my goal.

What can I say? I am no webhead and this is all too complicated for me.......

Getting Started and The Blond Wig

well.....let's see.....never done this before but my sis suggested it so I thought maybe i might try. Last night was Auction Night for ATW and I had to go collect money. Got daring and wore the blond wig which turned out to be a big hit. Drew my eyebrows on and everything. Ran into an old member who did not know about the cancer and she told me she loved what I had done with my hair. Didn't know it was a wig - woohooo!

Very tired today after the long day yesterday and the long evening at the auction. Stress level way down after being officially turned down for the BV job. Just don't think I am ready to work yet and certainly not to move in a month. Need to focus on treatments, dogs, yard, house, family and friends.

After all of that slept so well last night.