Feeling Good and Getting Things Done

I am preparing myself to do battle with Metlife again next week.  They’ve only approved my short-term disability through Monday, but I still have two more chemos before my doctor will let me go back to work.  Logic is apparently NOT a quality Met Life looks for when hiring case workers.  If they did, they would have seen on the first fax from my doctor that I was approved to go back until November.  Criminey.  And really, I’m sure the last thing I am going to want to do next week is fight with an idiot, but alas, it is how it will have to be.

In other news, I am getting stuff done today.  I paid bills this morning, 90% of which were medical bills.  My pelvic MRI was over $3,000.  Thank goodness I only had to pay $111 of it.  Phew.  I also got the EOB from my hospital stay (not the surgery, just the stay) – $16,000.  OY.  My responsibility is $1600.  Of which I will make payment arrangements.  Sigh.  Plus I just paid for the Echocardiogram from when they thought my “virus” was myocarditis.  Turns out it was cancer.  Sigh.  But we’re plugging away, and after all the bills were paid, I still have money for gas, groceries, and parking for my hospital visit Monday.

On tap today, groceries.  I want to put together a few casseroles for the next couple of weeks to throw in the freezer.  I’m thinking lasagna made with whole grain noodles, and maybe a tamale pie?  I don’t know.  We have meatballs in the freezer that I’m going to do on Sunday so we have them to eat next week as well.  I am also planning on packing our lunches for Monday.  The hospital bag lunch is fine for me (and free) but they don’t feed Bob and the hospital food is expensive (they are actual restaurants like Subway, Au Bon Pan, and Panera) but they charge twice as much because they can.  The cafeteria in the hospital leaves a lot to be desired.  Which leaves Bob with the option of the Great Cookie Company.  No.  He will not eat a chocolate chip cookie as big as his head for lunch.  Since we are allowed to bring food in, I’ll pack him a lunch.  Cheaper and not a cookie.

This weekend, I want to clean.  I can’t do it all myself yet, as I still haven’t been cleared from surgery to lift things or do anything strenuous, but I can do the bathroom and the kitchen, and do some dusting.  Bob will have to push the vacuum around for me.  And it needs it.  There’s enough extra pet hair on my floor to make a litter of kittehs and an extra dog.  YUCK

I am also planning on hemming some of Bob’s jeans that have been sitting around in the “mending” pile for a few months.  I did one pair the other day and have three left.  It has to get done, so might as well be this weekend.

I’m going to do some cooking, and some knitting.  I’m working on a beautiful vintage shawl pattern in a lovely hand dyed sock yarn.  I got the pattern from a kindle download and I love it.  I memorized the pattern already and don’t even have to think about it now.  Love patterns like that, and I can’t wait to wear it.

On Sunday, I am going to go up to Newark to go to church with my mom, and then we are going to our favorite post church breakfast place – Perkins.  They have the best damned coffee.  I love coffee.  LOVE COFFEE.  And I think I’ll treat myself to some corned beef hash.  Yum.  Eat while I still can.  🙂

Sunday afternoon, I’ll watch football, and get my stuff together for Monday.   Now that I have my Kindle Fire HD, I have a plan.  I have rented the Avengers on my Kindle.  I’ll download it Monday morning, so we can watch it while they are giving me my cocktail.  I am also reading the book War Brides which is totally not my style of book, but it is really good.  I have some others to read as well (well, a lot of others) and if I get bored with that, I’ll pick up some of my Jane Austin.  We watched Sense and Sensibility yesterday, and it makes me want to read the book again.  Darn that Willoughby – what an ass.

It is supposed to be a lovely fall weekend here.  Sunny and in the low 70s.  Bob has to play a pig roast tomorrow, so I will have some time to myself.  I’m going to put together some casseroles (as stated above) and take a bath, and knit and read.  A day just for me.

Because we all need a day just for ourselves.

Genetic Testing

I got the call yesterday that the results of my genetic testing were in.  Of course, everyone’s suspicions were confirmed.  I tested positive for Lynch Syndrome, the gene mutation that leads to an increased risk for colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer.  Not a big shocker.    Essentially it means I will have to have annual colonoscopies instead of every three years, and I will continue an intimate relationship with my GYN oncologist.  I don’t have the female parts anymore, so that is less worry.  I have sent letters to my nieces and nephew to urge them to get tested.

In other news,chemo treatment again Monday.  Yay,only not.

 

I Love the Fall

The first day of Fall snuck in over the weekend, and unlike most years when it is still hot as balls around here in the fall, it has been deliciously chilly in the evenings and early mornings, and blissfully in the 70s in the afternoon, with lots and lots of gorgeous blue skies and sunshine.

I have been feeling great this week.  Which is awesome, because next week I have my 2nd infusion, and I’ll once again feel like hammered shit.

But I’m ENJOYING this week.  Yesterday was blood work day, and I have an appointment with my primary care in the afternoon.  That wonderful man gave me a script for ambien and I had the first decent night’s sleep since before surgery.  Yay!  He also gave me a new glucometer because he wants me to test twice a day while in treatment.  My HGBA1C is generally 5.9 since surgery, but my sugars have been a bit cray-cray since treatment, which was to be expected since I get some pretty heavy doses of steroids for chemo.

He was also concerned with my weight loss, but not overly concerned.  Told me to remember to stick to protein, fruits and vegs, and to add the starches at the end of a meal, especially if I found myself losing too much weight.  AAAHHHAHAHAHAHAHA…a former fatty has issue with losing too much weight.  Seriously, I’m still 40 pounds from my goal weight, so no one is sweating my weight loss too much, but they don’t want me to lose muscle mass or the ability to fight off infection.

So, along those lines, since it is FALL (ahem, as the title of this post states), I have been jumping into some fall cooking.  I’ve made chili (which tasted a bit off at first due to chemo, but is good now), and I’ve made some empanadas – two batches of pumpkin (one with pecans and one without) and a batch of apple.  I used the brown sugar splenda blend with only 2g of sugar per serving.  I think there is less than a serving per empanadas.  I have to avoid a lot of sugar anyway because of my bypass and the fact that I’m a dumper, but I’m also conscious of the fact that cancer LOVES sugar.  That’s what it grows on.  And we don’t want that nasty bastard to grow or come back.  I am not, however, giving up my few squares of lindt dark chocolate.  Less than 17g for 4 squares, and it’s helping me to stay sane.

I’ve also started making more food that we can actual cook in the oven.  In the summer, because the house is so small and it gets hot as balls around here and humid, we use the small convection oven or grill to keep the heat out to the house.  But I love to cook in the oven.  Tonight we are having enchiladas.  Oh dear lord we love enchiladas.  Beef and onion tonight. YUM.  I also want to bake some cookies for a friend since she has been such a support through this whole mess.  She owns a Mailboxes and More and I have to use her facilities today to fax my tuition reimbursement forms, so I want to take her some cookies as thanks.  I want to put together a few casseroles this week as well to throw int he freezer for the next few weeks.  I’m thinking a lasagna, or baked ziti?  I don’t know – tomato stuff tends to taste off during chemo, so we’ll see.

And pumpkin…oh pumpkin I love these.  I’ve been enjoying pumpkin spiced k-cups, and pumpkin spiced tea.  And ginger snaps.  YUM

I want to do a fall cleaning, but alas have not been cleared for strenuous activity.  Still no lifting of anything over 10 pounds.  No pushing the vacuum, mopping, etc.  But my house needs it.  So, time to bug Bob.  I bet there is enough dog and cat hair to make another dog and cat on my carpet.  Can’t stand it!!

That’s another thing I LOVE about the fall.  I love to cuddle up under blankets (for an hour at the time until the hot flashes start!) and snuggle a kitty.  Mattie loves to snuggle when it’s cold (not so much in the summer, but she is part Maine Coon) and the minute I’m in my sweats with a blankie, she’s right there in my lap.

My Floofy Queen Of the Snuggle

Toby is not a snuggler.  No thanks.  Dont touch me.  He’s Mr. Independent.  He’s also 27 pounds, so I couldn’t hold him in my lap anyway.

No snuggles. I will sit next to you, and you may pet me, but NO snuggles.

Mia loves the fall too – she love to run around outside when it is a bit cooler – Husky dogs hate heat – and play.  And lay next to Mama for a head rub.

S’up Mama?

The best part of fall and winter is all the knitting I will get to work on by the fire (which reminds me – I need to call the chimney sweep).  I plan on making most of my Christmas presents this year so I can avoid shopping in crowds of sick and germy people.

Fall is our anniversary – five years married this year (lord knows how long we’ve been together).  Fall is our birthdays – mine in September and his in October.

Best part of fall – I’m one more season closer to finishing treatment.

So, enjoy the crisp air, the turning leaves, fireplaces, sweat pants, bulky sweaters, snuggle socks.  Enjoy my friends.  🙂

 

Friends Are the Best Prescription for Dealing and Healing

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before it not, but Bob and I own a double lot in a campground on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  It’s my happy place.  We generally spend as many spring and summer weekends as possible at our little Redneck Paradise (Trails End is the name of the campground) and over the past six years since we’ve owned there, we have made some wonderful, incredible friends.

We have not been down since the dreaded 4th of July, when my world got really complicated.

You see, when we went down for the fourth of July, I came down with what I thought was the worst virus in the world.  I hurt all over, and swelled up like a balloon.  I went to the doctor several times, to try to pinpoint the source of my illness.  Eventually, my doctor thought it might be myocarditis, and sent me for an echocardiogram.  It was done on the same day I had my pelvic MRI that found the lesion in my uterus.  Turns out, what I had was not myocarditis, but cancer, spreading into my lymphatic system.

I love our place in Trails End for some may reasons.  It’s the place I can let myself be, well, myself.  I can laugh, and joke, and hang with friends at a dance or around the campfire.  I can crab, and fish, and sit by the pool with my sister or sit on the beach and watch the dolphins swim by.  Trails End is my happy happy happy place.  And I have really missed it this summer.

I was feeling better this weekend.   A lot better.  Initially, we had planned on going back down to Trails End for the entire weekend next weekend, before my next infusion.  This was the time in which Dr. Rao determined I would be least at risk.  We had to go down and close up for the summer (we’d left in kind of a hurry when I got sick, with every intention of going down for a week in August).  So next week it was.  And I was so excited about going.

On Friday morning, I woke up feeling like myself.  And suffering from cabin fever.  Since it was an absolutely beautiful fall day, I told Bob I had to get out of the house.  So, I packed us a picnic lunch, and we decided to drive the hour and a half to our second favorite get-a-way – Gettysburg – to spend the day and have a picnic lunch on the battlefield.  While we were driving up, we were talking about our trip to Trails End next weekend, and low and behold, Bob remembered that he has a DJ gig next weekend.  Shit.

So, we decided to get up early yesterday and head down for one night.  We’d close up for the season, and then spend the evening with our friends.

And that is just what we did.  We got up at 6am yesterday, packed a few groceries and some overnight clothes, threw the dog in the car (and after one false start that involved me forgetting to put cat food down for the cats) we headed to our trailer for the weekend.

And what a lovely beautiful wonderful weekend it was.

The campground has a monthly horseshoe tournament each month, and yesterday was the monthly board meeting, so many of our wonderful friends were down.  In addition, there was a family dance last night out at the pavilion (Trails End offers many amenities for the property owners, including an olympic sized pool, marina, pavilion, club house, store and restaurant).  So, when we got down yesterday, we did what we had to do, and then rode over to pavilion to watch the tourney.  And see our friends.

And I was greeted by some of the best friends in the world a girl can ask for.  I was greeted with hugs and love, and my spirit and well-being soared.  We spent about a half an hour up at the tournament and then we went back to the trailer and took a nap.  Because being social took a lot out of me.  After our nap, we had some dinner, and then changed into our jeans and headed out to ride around the campground.  After our ride, we went back to the pavilion for the dance.  We had such a great time.  The best medicine for a cancer patient it to be surrounded by people who love them.

I have seen many people who go through a serious illness find out who their friends truly are.  As a matter of fact, I went through that myself when I had my gastric bypass surgery three years ago.  I had made a pretty good group of friends prior to my surgery through obesityhelp.com.  But when my surgery was more successful than theirs, the friendships fizzled.  And it was hurtful.  I am still friends with a couple of those women, but some of them I have nothing to do with.  And that’s ok.  Like I said, things like this make you learn who your friends truly are.

Over the past month, I have been showered in love by our friends – both close and far away.  I have received gifts, and cards and flowers (even got flowers from my physical therapist who worked on my back when we thought my back pain was caused by spinal stenosis and not cancer).  I have gotten emails and phone calls, and all of them just service to boost my spirit.  And there is no better treatment than that.

None at all.

I am so appreciative of all my friends who have thrown their good thoughts and prayers my way through this ordeal.  And what we even better, this past weekend, was after the initial, “You look good, and I’m so sorry you have to go through this,” my friends quickly dropped the subject.  The conversation wasn’t about CANCER.  It was about picking up where we left off in July.  It was about laughing, and shots of apple pie (which alas, I had to decline because I’m not allowed to have alcohol while on chemo), and plans for next spring (a trip with friends up to Cumberland, MD for the weekend) and plans for next summer, and hunting season, and “Oh my good lord, how much has that woman with two teeth had to drink?”  It was about sharing a dance to Charlie Pride’s Kiss An Angel Good Morning with my husband.  It was hugs and kisses and laughing and joking.  And duck farts.  I can’t explain those, but look them up.

And I feel infinitely better.  And stronger.  And ready to tackle whatever comes next.

Four Weeks

Four weeks ago, my life turned on its head.

I went from having precancerous cells to Stage III 2E endometrial cancer in the space of three hours on 8/22.  I went to sleep thinking, “I’ll go home, recover from my hysterectomy, and then head back to work.”  I woke up with a cancer diagnosis.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in these four weeks.  I’ve learned a lot about my health, my genetic make up, Lynch Syndrome, and more than I ever wanted to know about cancer (and believe me, with two sisters affected, I already knew a lot).

I’ve learned that chemo sucks.  That the day of is great, but the 10 days that follow not only test your system, but they test your basic make up. I found out what I am made of.  I found out what I can handle.  I found out that when I dug deep down, I am tough as nails.

I found out in the past four weeks exactly how much my husband loves me.  And it is more than I ever ever ever thought.  My husband didn’t cry when we got married, but he’s cried more since my diagnosis than I’ve ever seen.

Four weeks.

28 days.

A lifetime of change.

40 Years

Today, I turn 40 years old.  Holy Shizballz, y’all, I’m 40.

Two months ago, I was pretty smug about turning 40.  I had made it, and I had made it without any of the major horrible pratfalls of my family – no cancer.  HA.  God has a sick and twisted sense of humor, no?

You see, my dad was 41 when they found his colon cancer.  High up, and invasive, so it had probably been there for a couple of years.  My sister was 35 when they found hers and had determined that she had probably originated her tumor at 33.  Betsy was 41 when they found her cancer.  She never made it to 42.  My grandmother, who also had endometrial cancer was in her late 30s.  She lived to be 84.  I hope I take after her.

So I was smug.  I had made it to 40 (almost) without any cancer issues.  Right?

HA.

So, two months ago, I was planning a “Lordy Lordy Fabulous and 40” birthday party for myself.  A Big Ass Shinding in which all of my friends were invited (no seriously, over a 100 people were invited y’all) for this past weekend.  I was going to have margarita cupcakes, and apple pie (um, the kind you drink) and a DJ (I happened to know a good one, who works for kisses! – um, my husband).  I cancelled that when the hysterectomy was scheduled.

Instead, I spent my birthday weekend on Saturday with my Mom, since I was feeling really good.  And then yesterday, I was doubled over, nauseated, and constipated beyond belief feeling like hell.

And this morning, for my actual birthday, I feel ok.  Yay.  I had to have my bloodwork drawn this morning, and celebrated with a splurge of coffee at the McD’s on the way home – 5 splenda and extra cream.  Hell yeah.  I’m also spending the day fighting with Met Life to find out why they haven’t approved my disability extension.  Oh, and plowing through 187 emails from work that I got just last week.

My 40th is nothing like I expected this year.  But I am 40.  And that, in and of itself, is a milestone.  Let’s see.  I was morbidly obese my entire life (hey, cancer treatments will get you to your goal weight pretty quick pretty fast) until the last three years.  I had a heart attack at 30 (thank you genetic pool from hell).  I have had two knee surgeries (one on each knee).  I’ve had gastric bypass (another dangerous surgery).  And now cancer.  So yeah, 40 is a pretty big milestone, all things considered.

So, today, I’m appreciating the fact that I’m alive.  And today, feeling pretty good.  I’m enjoying my store bought coffee.  I’ll be having a (cooked) sushi dinner to celebrate with my honey at some point this week.  I am upright, and alive.  I have family and friends who love me and support me.  I have a job.  And insurance.  And the best fucking husband that God could have ever put on the face of this earth.  So all in all, I’m a lucky girl.  Can I still call myself a girl, now that I”m officially “middle-aged?”

And next year, the 41st birthday party is going to be a hell of a wingding Y’all.  Because it’s going to be a “Fuck You CANCER” Party.

So look out.

Chemo Is A Lot Like A Roller Coaster Only Without the “Yay! Rollercoaster!” Part

The past three days have in no way shape or form been something I would call “woo hoo fun.”  Tuesday I woke up feeling like crap.  The nauseau was held nicely at bay with Zofran and Compazine, but I felt like crap.  I don’t know exactly how to describe it other than, well, yucky.

I was warned ahead of time that Wednesday would be worse than Tuesday.  And they were not wrong.  Again, nauseau held at bay with drugs, but I felt as if I’d been run over by a series of trash trucks.  Evil bastard trash trucks.  UGH.  Last night, I actually did have an appetite again, and my husband did go out and get pizza for dinner (I did WANT pizza).  But then the aches and pains set in, and the horrible sore throat.

Today I felt ok.  I mean, ok as if I’d turned a corner ok.  But now I feel as if I have a cold.  I’m blowing yellow snot constantly, and I still have a bit of a sore throat.  I have a headache, but I feel OK.  Of course, we naturally called the doctor because we weren’t sure if the cold symptoms were normal or if they were something in which we should go, “OMG SHE HAS A COLD HEAD TO THE NEAREST ER!!”

My oncologist is a saint.  He didn’t act like we were nuts.  He got on the phone himself.  And told me that this horrible sinus infection/allergy/cold thing is absolutely normal.  And to be expected.  Because the chemo is killing everything.  He told me to take a decongestant and an antihistamine, and he promised I would start feeling better soon.  And to keep an eye on my temparature, becuase if that went up over 100.5, I was to OMG HEAD TO THE ER IMMEDIATELY.

I don’t feel better, but he did promise.  I also haven’t got a temp.

Other things that are kind of sucky is that I have this nasty ass taste in my mouth.  Can’t pin point it, but it’s like I’m chewing on rubber bands.  Not good.

But the worst part…the absolute worst part is the constipation.  Oh holy hell.  Seriously, if it isn’t bad enough that I’ve had to go through major surgery, followed by OMG I HAVE CANCER and then the hell of chemo, did we have to throw in the joys of constipation?  Miralax has been prescribed.

And today, the day I was going to nap?  The phone has run all. day. long.

I have to start feeling better soon.  Right?

RIGHT?

UGH.