August 31, 2010

Mothers & daughters

Good day/Bad day?: Okay

Made it through the whole day of work, including team-teaching a class that went pretty well. I did feel pretty heavy-headed for a while this AM. I'm thinking that the more distracted I am, the better. That, or Tuesdays will just be better days than the previous ones. Hoping there is a different pattern that emerges, because that's half my week down the toilet right there!

Today my therapeutic diet in the AM was grease (bacon, egg, & cheese bagel sandwich from work) and coffee--you may cringe, but it worked for some reason! Again, very similar to pregnancy. The tough part is that I'm supposed to take the chemo pills on an empty stomach an hour before eating, so there's a window there to just feel empty and get more nauseous. While drinking a pool-full of water. Awesome!!!! But really, today was better.

Oh, I forgot to say that yesterday was a little strange when we were at Olive's pediatrician appt--I've forgotten what it's like to newly tell people that I have cancer b/c pretty much everyone in my day-to-day has known for a while. It was touching to see how genuinely shocked and sympathetic she was since that initial shock of the news has worn off for me. It may sound weird, but it's good for me occasionally to remind myself of what the hell is going on here. That, and I had a moment last night of just sitting next to Olive's bed and watching her sleep--an even better reminder of why I'm putting my body through this. One of those moments where your heart just wants to burst.

I think back a lot on what my mom might have gone through for her cancer rounds, and it's hard. Of course, she was at a totally different place in life--50yo, kids left the nest, no longer married. I think about how totally oblivious I was to a lot of her treatments, surgeries, recovery, etc. (I would have been 20 at the start). She was also stubbornly independent and resistent to having her kids coming to care for her. I now know what it's like to sit through all the appts and in all the waiting rooms and can only imagine emotionally what it was like for her. We were there for some of it, but really only a small portion. It makes me sad. I'm trying not to question her choices because she did things the way she needed to, but it's hard not to feel some regret there, too (and that's something I try to work my way through pretty quickly in general). But I understood her rationale then for avoiding chemo, and I know that everybody has a different idea of acceptable risk for recurrence/2nd cancer. I wish she was still here to talk it through so I could dig a little deeper. But we're bonded anyway, and we were without this!

August 30, 2010

Coming around

Good day/Bad day?: Not outstanding, but better than yesterday

First of all, a very Happy 18th Birthday to my niece Ashlie! Thank you so much for being here to help, esp on a day like today when Olive had to stay home again--you're hanging in there well...

Good news/bad news for the little peanut--her weird rash/fever thing is not contagious and she can go back to day care tomorrow and get back to her routine, but she does have another ear infection!

I'm having a little better day. Rough in the AM and a little touch & go at times with the nausea, but otherwise was able to get out to my appt and Olive's. (I had my port checked 1 week out, looks good.) I think I'll adapt to this soon enough. So far it's a lot like my morning/all-day sickness with pregnancy, so I just have to get back in that mindset and develop my strategies to make it through the day. I have to find the foods that sit well no matter what (it was Belgian waffles with fruit and whipped cream for a while back then...). Going to try to go back to work tomorrow, not sure what my expectations are for that.

FIL Bruce had a good reminder--if I've been feeling the way I have, imagine how the cancer cells are feeling! I'll try to envision them with little bulls-eyes on them.

August 29, 2010

Not a fan

Good day/Bad day?: I vote for bad

Yesterday actually wasn't to bad, just a few nausea waves, and a busy day with Ben's parents (including Olive's first wading pool time). At the end of the night, my niece Ashlie came to join us for the week (through Fri) and lend a hand. Special thank you for coming during your 18th b-day! We also thought we were savvy to Olive's issues, since she was better and had sprung 2 upper molars!

But today was another day... A lot of nausea and got sick a couple of times, very washed out. Olive's back to being sick, too--rash, fever coming back, projectile vomiting tonight. That's all I'm going to say for now. Goodnight.

August 27, 2010

First time for everything...

Good day/Bad day:? bad, but not as bad as it could've been

Olive still has a fever, so Julie was nice enough to stay with her today while we went in for my appt. I went in at 9, saw the MD, and then promptly waited for quite a while. I finally got my first chemo treatment started at about noon. The one I get IV every week is only going to take about 15 min to get, but they draw labs first and you have to wait for the results, and they also give you oral meds to prevent nausea. The treatment itself was fine, just felt a little heavy-headed afterward.

About 3 PM I just got so tired I couldn't stay awake and took a nap, and then when I woke up I was kind of a waxy green/gray color. Nausea's been fluctuating throughout the evening but I was able to eat. I was thinking about napping again, but then Ben & Olive were going for a walk and I joined them. Glad I did--it improved my color for a little while. It's going to take a lot of outside motivation to get me up and moving for a walk or something every day...

It's really hard to anticipate anything more. Typically when you get chemo infusions, it takes about 2-3 days to clear your system and then is gone, but I'm also taking an oral chemo pill every day, so the side effects they talk about will not fall into the typical timelines. And with the pill, I'm supposed to drink like a fish every day (12 cups or so) b/c it's "not supposed to sit in your bladder too long". Comforting, eh?

Hoping tomorrow is less green and not more...

August 26, 2010

Wigging out!

Ha! Get it? It's funny 'cause...


Good day/Bad day?: Pretty good

A la the title, I started the day with my wig fitting appt. Oh wait, actually it started at home with Olive waking up with a fever and Ben trying to figure out a suitable arrangement for work/home/baby care. He stayed home, and I went to work after the wig.

So...judging by Ben's reaction, it's obviously not the same as my current hair. I went a little lighter, figuring it'll be fall and winter, I'll be paler, darker might not be good. They do not have wigs that mimic natural waves--it's either straight or full curl. I'm okay with it, and actually think it could grow on me. Of course, it'll fit a little differently when my hair's gone and it's hard to tell how comfortable it will be. But, it's from the Raquel Welch collection...(Hint: it's in the Vibralite Sheer Indulgence collection, but don't feel compelled to Google and guess unless you're bored!) The woman doing the fittings was very nice.

Not sure when I'll post pics of it.

Myra's last evening of helping us--thank you so much! It's nice to have someone who's both a professional and a natural. Congrats on the successful job search, too.

Then there's tomorrow. That's all there is to it. I want to just get it over with to get through the anticipation. Hoping we don't have to bring Olive back to the doctor, too.

August 25, 2010

Riding it out

Good day/bad day?: Good, but long

Just trying to prioritize...It's hard to think that I have one more day of feeling like I'm used to feeling, and then the rest is just unknown. There are always stories I hear of people who just "sail through" their chemo and don't miss work, don't feel that bad, etc. At this point I think it's more helpful for me to expect it to not be so great so that I won't feel I'm letting myself and others down when I peter out.

Had a farewell for a coworker today that has always been special to me. She was the nurse working with my mom as she was dying, then became my preceptor when I started in hospice and was always a "go-to" for me. I always knew she was looking out for me, and I hope I was able to return the favor sometimes. I'll miss working with you...

So, any guesses what kind of wig I'll pick tomorrow??? Stay tuned (or maybe I'll surprise you down the road). I also may go to Gilda's Club tomorrow to check it out. We'll see--I feel like I've got a countdown on my time & energy right now, so that may not be how I choose to spend it tomorrow.

Quick update

Hi, just wanted to let you know that Ben & I stayed up too late watching a movie last night, so no post. Port site is less sore, now just feels bruised. We'll catch up tonight!

August 23, 2010

Ouch (again)!

Good day/Bad day?: Not the most fun

I went in at 7 today to get my port placed. It's in my L arm, inner part of the upper arm, and it hurts like an SOB right now. The procedure itself went fine, though, and I didn't feel as gorked out as I expected. We were done by about noon and then came home to nap.

Chemo schedule: I get an infusion of one drug once a week for 15 weeks, take a pill of another chemo drug once daily for those 15 weeks, and then the third drug is every other week IV for another 12 weeks. It's a long road, and there's a handful of other meds to take or inject that go with it. They'll give me an actual calendar with it all mapped out when I go in Friday AM for the first treatment. It is more treatments for longer than the standard course, but the doses of each infusion will be smaller. The whole point of the study is to determine if the different timing is more effective.

Special thanks to Julie, who's been covering our needs like a trooper for the last week or so, and now to Ben's cousin Myra coming to help in the evenings 'til bedtime. She's in early childhood education, so I expect Olive to be speaking full sentences by the end of the week. Thank you, thank you--we're super lucky to have this support!

August 22, 2010

Baby Steps

Good day/Bad day?: Good

A little bit of errand running, and otherwise I got to visit a friend from work and her new baby--8 days old! Beautiful! I got to keep her all to myself for a nice long nap (hers, not mine), and it was nice because she's small enough that I could hold her. That, and seeing her nurse, brought out some sadness that I won't have that again, and I've just been remembering how great it was to have that with Olive. I didn't even mind the pumping. In that way, it also brought out a lot of feeling that I was lucky it went so well for her and me for as long as it did. Man, it just tugged at me today and made me start wondering if we'll have another kid. There's too much to sort out first before we go down that road.

Speaking of the kid, man is she pushing herself! She's only been pulling up in earnest for a little while, but she's determined to do it all day long now. She started creeping along the coffee table and has stood now without holding on (though occasionally her tummy holds her up...). I predict standing freely by next week, walking by the week after. She doesn't mess around.

Tomorrow's port placement--whoo-hoo? Oh well, it'll be better than getting poked every treatment. Wish I could take the rest of the week off...

August 21, 2010

Vulnerability and strength

Good day/Bad day?: Good

No post yesterday b/c I didn't know what to talk about, plus we had our multiple ones with photos the day before--check it out below! Today I am more chatty.

So the day consisted of a craniosacral appt, brief farmer's market tour, and back home with Olive & Ben. Then over to Gene & Kate's for an impromptu pool date (thanks, guys!). Then Ben took me on a hot date to watch flat track motorcycle racing, and we came home and were old and lame. Oh, and we watched part of the Packer game and a Wallace & Gromit movie. Cheese!

So today I had some interesting things to ponder and will share them in a way that may not make sense...

Essentially, the essence of what I'm pondering is a few things. I am at a time when my body is the weakest in many ways and the most vulnerable it's ever been in my life, and this will continue for a while. While I know I'm protected by wonderful people in my life, I still feel like I need to remain strong in my eyes and those of others. I've had many people comment about how amazed they are at how well I'm doing and recovering from the surgery, but I think it's more b/c I WANT to be someone who is doing well than b/c I really am, both for others and for me.

There's an incredible base of people who are sending me good energy and positive thoughts, but I think I'm also realizing that I've let it become more difficult to let out the negative thoughts in the face of such positivity--like a shield of sorts. As much as one can go with the slogans about the power of positive thinking, in a situation like this, to deny the negatives seems inauthentic. I think I need to be mad and sad (without wallowing in it), but I'm also vulnerable then. I need to figure out a way to do that without bringing me and everyone else down.

I realize that I'll get responses from people telling me it's okay to show those feelings and not be positive and strong when I don't want to be. It's one thing to know it intellectually and to hear it, but then I think of the crucial people in my life and think about the burden that puts on them... Again, when I'm vulnerable like that, there will be those who will act as my protectors, but that's hard for them to sustain for as long as I may need it.

I also realize that I'm pushing myself too hard right now, but I still feel like I need to. I know that in a week I'm going to be feeling worse and want to do as much and be as helpful as I can be for that window of time. This is esp hard with Olive care, because I still have about 3 weeks to go for the lifting restriction, too. I can't tell you how hard it is to not be able to walk around holding her in my arms when I want to. It's almost to the point where I want to leave so I don't have to see how much I'm not doing for her. I can't comfort her as well when I need to, and that's a crucial part of mothering to me. Then I just feel like I boss everyone else around to make myself feel involved, which may not be the most helpful!

So yeah, I did say above that it was a good day, and it was! I just need to take some time to digest the big stuff once in a while, because it's too easy to try to move on without giving it its due.
Oh, one more thing I was going to share with you that come from an unexpected place. We had a group come in to work for a self-defense class, and the instructor was talking about an approach to life where you welcome the pain (or the attack in this case) because it puts you at a stronger position and rewrites the outcome. He said that inviting pain in, knowing that it will happen in life, is the way to open yourself up to the blessings that can come with it. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but it struck a chord with me. Okay, goodnight!

August 19, 2010

Brain power

Good day/Bad day?: Good but long, and now I'm pooped!

Just a couple of quick updates:

Today I felt like I actually used part of my brain for critical thinking--felt like it had been a while! A little forward momentum at work never hurts. But I definitely notice my energy lagging by the end of the day, so I'm hoping tomorrow's a short one.

This AM I went to the cancer clinic and enrolled in a clinical trial for the chemo that is using the same standard drugs but on 4 different schedules/durations. I also signed up for substudies looking at genetic factors and supplement effects on treatment. Unfortunately, I won't get my official chemo schedule until Monday, but I should still have my first treatment Friday next week.

Thank you, dear, for working on the pictures!

Smush cake

The latest trend in child rearing: give them a cake they are encouraged to smash up and rub in their hair, then later confuse them by disallowing said behavior. This will ease the blow when they find out about taxes, aging and work.


What the viewers want they shall get. The majority of votes in our recent poll indicated you wanted to see post-op pictures but wanted a link to them so you didn't have to see them. After all, they are graphic and may cause certain people distress of some kind. So, wimps, here are your links:

The borg look.

Drains out!

UPDATE: Someone made the very good point that these pictures might end up in the wrong hands if they are posted on the internet. Since there is no way to prevent people reposting copies of the photos without permission, we'll take a different route - anyone who wants to see the pictures can ask, and we can e-mail a copy to you.

August 18, 2010

Regular day

No good or bad, just a normal day. I'm pooped and sore and am going to sign off--we'll talk tomorrow!

August 17, 2010


Good day/Bad day?: Turned south

First of all, happy official birthday to my lovely husband! I know, I know, you will never be as old as me!

Worked a full day today, which was fine overall but I quickly lost steam afterward. It was nice because I got some more clarification on where I can focus my energy in the near future, but the bad thing is that it made me think about the near future.

I'm just realizing I'm at this point where I feel I should be getting back to the usual routine, doing what I used to do, etc. Then I go to use my arms and realize I can't for a while, and that even as my arm strength will recover, the rest of me will be dealing with chemo. It's hard feeling when you know your brief normalcy is going to end in a week and a half--I've been able to forget pretty well most days that I had cancer and that's what got me into this mess.

Speaking of my arms, I'm getting nervous because I'm realizing how tight and immobile I am. I thought I was doing enough daily movement with my activity even when I didn't do the official exercises religiously, but I think that spells trouble. I'm hoping to work out of it in the next days, and if not I'll seek some PT. Keep your fingers crossed.

So the title today is about a couple of things (the N is for "not"). One thing that I wasn't even asked but offered to a couple of people today was if they wanted to see my scars (b/c they asked if anyone else was asking and I took it further). So no, nobody's asked to see my surgery (except we will post blog pics as soon as Ben & I get up to date). BUT, it's okay with me. If anyone's curious, esp those I know who have a lot of medical curiosity (like me!) and just have no idea what's under my shirt or what the healing's been like, ask. My scars/incisions have been doing very well and the surgeon did a great job with her "smooth" goal.

Another thing I wanted to say is that, for starters, I want everyone who's been reading this and giving me feedback in person or online to know that I'm really appreciative of your interest and support. There aren't usually many comments here, which is fine, so it's nice to hear I'm not always just doing it for my own benefit--that feels a little self-indulgent sometimes. That said, while I don't want anyone to feel compelled to comment, I do feel that this can be a 2-way conversation! I'm happy if people have questions and will answer them unless I really don't want to that day (or ever). There are no "off-limits" questions. I know I am not the only one dealing with cancer in their life or the life of someone they love, so being useful in what I say would make me feel good, too.

So there's my two cents. I'll be interested what comes my way now...

August 16, 2010

Back to the grind...

Good day/Bad day?: Good

Two big things for today: went back to work and got my last drain out.

Work, if that's what you call what I did today, was good. Half day, mostly saying hi to everyone and getting my bearings again. It's nice to have a job you're happy to go back to...

It was very nice to get my final drain out. For one thing, it was a nuisance because I had to always tuck it into something and I was wearing it in a passport holder around my neck to shower. It was also limiting my arm mobility, so now I need to rededicate myself to my exercises to get rid of the tightness running along the bottom of my arms.

I made an appt for a wig fitting for next Thurs! Weird.

Now I think I'm getting a cold. Hope I'm not knocked out in the near future... Goodnight!

August 15, 2010

Gearing Up

Good day/bad day?: Good, but tired

Ben's b-day surprise (it's the 17th!) was having a fishing outing with Joel & J after a lunch spread--nothing revolutionary, but he hasn't been fishing all year! It seemed to be a relaxing day for him, but he can tell you, too. While he was out, Holli cut my hair--short!-- as a transition before I start to lose my hair in less than a month. I like it--she did a great job. I think I even got "checked out" tonight at the co-op, which actually made me feel a little weird (like I have to warn guys that I really have no boobs so nothing to see here...). Not that I need to care, it just caught me off guard.

But we'll see what more of the public thinks tomorrow as I head back to work. I fully don't expect to get much done, but showing up is a good first step, eh?

Julie covered today so I could see my friend Amanda for brunch, have the b-day/haircut time, and now she'll be helping out this week spending the nights after work. Always nice to have a sis around!

Pictures will come soon...

August 14, 2010


Good day/Bad day?: Good!

Today was the official celebration of Olive's first birthday, and I will call it a rousing success! Special thanks to all who joined us and thanks for all her great presents--she seemed to be enjoying herself, and now she's crashed hard...

There will be pictures to come, likely to include the infamous cake smush.

Now I'm pretty sore and worn out, but it was worth it. I'll try to take it easy tomorrow, though I have to be up to a few shenanigans for Ben and will see Amanda and baby James for brunch--excited to meet him!

August 13, 2010

Reality check

Good day/Bad day?: Eh (shrug)

I think the weather didn't help. Very hard to get motivated this AM, and then I was mad at myself for not getting more done. But I did see the new Will Farrell movie with Julie today and had some good laughs.

Today's just the doldrums--my chest aches more, Olive was extra cranky as the night went on, and I'm realizing how quickly my time off has gone but also how far removed from the usual daily routine I feel. Paradox.

I took off all the steri-strips holding my incisions together, so it looks a little more real and like it will in the future (minus the damn drain!).

Thanks to Aunt Sue for helping out this evening--it always makes us feel a little more comfortable having extra helpers. Bet your house was much more quiet in comparison!

Gearing up for Olive's shebang tomorrow! It ought to be fun as long as it doesn't pour rain...

August 12, 2010

One on one

Good day/Bad day?: pretty good

Ben & I had a day to ourselves, which was a big departure from the last 2 weeks. His parents left in the AM and our PM help fell through for today, so we were back to our little family. It's been great having people here to help, but also nice to just hang out with each other and Olive. We're heading into a busy weekend with Olive's late b-day and Ben's early b-day... I wonder what his day will bring?! Really, I can't build it up b/c he outdid me by far with the flying lesson, but at least I can surprise him a little.

So for those of you worried that I was really going to lie to get my last drain out, RELAX! I'm still putting out enough that I'm not going to push it, so I guess I'm looking at Monday. Boo.

Ben & I met with the med oncologist this afternoon to talk about chemo choices. The improvement in recurrence is pretty clear, so doing chemo isn't the question right now, it's which regimen to choose. Even within the standard therapy there are a couple of choices, and then there are 2 possible clinical trials with a total of 6 different regimens there, so there are a lot of choices. I've got some reading to do. I'll make up my mind about a regimen or trial next week and then have my definitive treatment schedule. No matter what, it sounds like a long road with a lot of side effects, 4 mos min and 6.5 mos max. Dosing is likely going to be every 2 weeks, though some of the options are once weekly, and I'll get it on Fri so I can feel like crap over the weekend and hopefully be better by Mon or Tues. Delightful!

Okay, we watched a movie after Olive went to bed and now I'm tired. Tomorrow will be a last opportunity for me to have quiet time for a while unless I take off more work days. I plan to go back Mon but will have some appts next week and some partial days. Getting there, but wondering when my arms are ever going to feel better.

August 11, 2010

Change of Plans

Good day/Bad day?: okay

It was hard to say goodbye to Monica today because I could get used to having her around! She was a great help and fun to catch up with. Thank you again for everything!

Monika has realized that she's unable to come help me for the rest of ther week, which is understandable--I'm glad she's not pushing herself too hard. Special thanks to Ben's Aunt Sue, who's agreed to cover at the last minute. Don't worry, we'll try to go easy on you!

It's weird, because over the last days the help has changed from focusing on me to being Olive's handler. Good, b/c that means I'm feeling better, and I hope Olive is more fun to take care of than me (I'm guessing yes). Ben's parents are here tonight so they could have birthday dinner and cheesecake with Olive and give her presents--she got a great city/road rug to crawl around on for her room!

Tomorrow is a medical oncology appt to discuss the upcoming chemo regimen. I should get my last drain out, too, but I might have to lie a little about how much it's been putting out... We'll see, I shouldn't push it.

So then there's next week and getting back to work. I really don't know how that's going to go. Not b/c I'm still debilitated and couldn't handle the day, but because I'll be there for a week or two and then will be starting chemo and likely feeling like crap, so it'll be hard to motivate myself to get involved with work projects when it's going to feel temporary. I know that there are people that go through chemo and just totally keep pushing ahead and doing it all without slowing down, but I'm not so sure how I'll approach it. I know that the next weeks I'll have to be focusing on building myself up as much as I can before I get knocked down a few pegs. I just don't know! I'll have to hope that everyone stays tolerant with me and my lack of productivity...

August 10, 2010

Small Victories & Big Girls

Good day/Bad day?: GOOD

Yes, yes, yes a very happy birthday to the most delightful Olive. She had a pretty normal day today, but as we picked her up from daycare, she was waving goodbye to everyone like she was queen of the world--we are but mere subjects in her kingdom! She had a very silly evening and was giggling like crazy. I hope that one year remains the Year of Giggles (I think it comes before the Year of Terror)...

Monica was brave enough to let me out into the world, not only as a spectator but also as a driver! Yep, I drove for the first time post-op today. Not bad, but my arms are a little limited in big turns and the seatbelt is a little uncomfortable on my chest. But, good enough for running around town. We went for breakfast (the always delicious Ironworks), home for a "break" as Monica vacuumed, then out for some time running around town--first for our wonderful offspring, then for ourselves.

Those of you who know me well know that I'm an Orangyporangy fiend, so we went into her retail store today to peruse, and what should I find but the skirt I hesitated too long on last year. It's a delightful skirt with a lovely crane fabric on some of the panels, and I kicked myself (hard) for not buying it when I had the chance. Well, the universe saw fit to tell the person who bought it that she was not the right person for the job (she never wore it?? and brought it back to the store to return recently--after a year!!! Whatever.) Her loss is my gain, and I could not pass it up again, so there was my Happy Cancer Recovery and Happy Making It Through Olive's Birth Last Year present. Right? Totally.

Special thank you to those who've volunteered to cover Wed night--Ben's parents are coming to celebrate Olive's b-day with us since they won't be able to make it up this weekend, so we're set.

Special thank you also to Monica. We've had a great few days together. It's been so long since we've had more than a few hours or a phone call together, and it was really cool to see where we've both arrived in our lives. Very different place than when we started out as friends 16 yrs-ish ago! Now we compare mothering and marriage notes when we used to commiserate about boys and share the latest drama. We're both happy with how things turned out. Looking forward to bringing our kids together in the future for a little play time... Also thanks to Scott for letting her come out to play (I mean help)! But seriously, she wouldn't stop cooking and cleaning for 2 days straight, so I had to distract her from it today. I'll miss you, but not before a little bakery run tomorrow AM!

Next up at bat, Monika on Thurs. Now hopefully it won't be so much babying of me, just extra Olive arms...

Anyone who sees Ben in the near future, give him some credit and buy him a beer or something. He's been a trooper thus far (as if I'm surprised). I know he'll see me through anything regardless, but he's just rolling with all the people rotating through as helpers when it's totally out of his comfort zone. That's while he's having a busy week at work... Hang in there baby, and enjoy the ride!

Happy birthday Olive!!!!

August 9, 2010

Time flies

Good day/Bad day?: Pretty good

Watched Monica whirl around me cleaning all morning--ya just can't stop the woman! Very nice of her to work so hard, but she still swears it's a break from her busy house. I'm trying to convince her that naps are good. We'll go for breakfast tomorrow and maybe a couple of other fun things--movie, vintage store?

Had my first follow-up with the surgeon today. She said I was healing well, good range of motion so far, but I wasn't ready to have my last drain out yet, so maybe by the end of the week. No big deal, except they're putting off my infusion port placement from Thurs until Aug 23rd. I'll still see the oncologist this Thurs and determine a chemo regimen, with my first treatment expected to start the same week of the 23rd. That's hard to fathom, so I'm trying not to go there yet.

Next week is a real unknown so far. I still haven't tried to drive yet with my limited range and still some pain, so I need to see how that goes before going back to work. I think I need to go pick out a wheeled bag for work, too, so I don't have to carry things on my shoulders or in my arms. I just wish I could guess right now what I'll be able to do.

I've been going out without any fake boobs so far and am getting used to it. It'll be interesting to see if I feel comfortable when it's time to get them (when I'm healed and not too sensitive to wear them).

This time last year I was deep in the heart of contraction country! Tomorrow AM will be Happy Birthday Olive time!!!! Wow, one year is fast.

August 8, 2010

Short but sweet

Good day/Bad day?: Good

Tired, so I'll keep it short and sweet. Good day of changing helpers--trading one good for another! Nice to be around Monica again-- it's been years and years. We've got a lot of catching up to do.

Tomorrow AM I see the surgeon for a follow-up and will let you know how that goes.

Olive wants to stand all the time and did her first stairs today!


Good day/Bad day?: Less good

Missed posting yesterday, but needed a little recouperating. My neck and upper back were killing me! I was pushing it a little lately, and then fell asleep with one of those heavier heating pads behind my neck and woke up regretting it. But we persevere!

Mary and I ran around a little during the day yesterday, had to take Olive to the clinic--yep, the start of another ear infection! She had one bad night with it, but now we'll be on the road to recovery, and she doesn't slow down. She's a crafty kid and learning new tricks every day. This morning's new one is hiding around the corner and doing her own peek-a-boo--she's so proud of herself!

Today is rainy and gloomy and then will be a sauna, so I think it's lying low around the house day. Also, changing of the guard--Mary's going and Monica's coming from Chicagoland this afternoon. I'm excited, b/c we haven't had much time together in years! Mary's been great--she runs her household like a well-oiled machine and came prepared for every meal, great with Olive, and just a good sister.

I'm going to be a little bold and put it out there... We've got one night this coming week without coverage--one person leaves Wed day and the other arrives Thurs day, so we'd be open for help Wed to stay overnight. Those of you who know how to call or e-mail, let me know if you're interested. Olive will be in daycare, but evening, bedtime, and getting out the door in the morning help are all nice for Ben. It's tough, b/c I don't know how the following week will be and how much help I'll need, too. I'll probably be working part-time, and I've been healing quickly, but we'll have to see what the next week brings.

Have a lovely day!

August 6, 2010

Mixed bag

Good day/Bad day?: Okay

Had a lovely breakfast and chat with my sistas to start the day, then had many phone calls and e-correspondence, including with a couple great friends I don't get to talk to much. Even have a couple of visits lined up to see them, which is outstanding. Also had a visit from my lovely friend and coworker Joanna, she of the warm fuzzy refillable cookies, which was very nice (except Punkin' wasn't very nice--not cool for the pregnant lady!) Then started feeling a little ishy before dinner and was a little low-key the rest of the day. I'm wondering if this is how my body processes anesthesia (with waves of nausea out of nowhere) since I've never had it before. Good practice for chemo??

Then Olive was a fussy fuss tonight, very difficult to get to bed. I think she's still got the ear/throat thing even after finishing the antibiotic. Not fun, so we may have a trip to the clinic tomorrow if she's no better. Mary's a super-trooper at sticking with a screamy baby, though. Useful skill!

Ben's furiously trying to get his cycle working again before a rally in Milw tomorrow--the saga continues...Goodnight!

August 5, 2010

Good news, everybody!

(In my best professor voice, 'cause we've been watching Futurama reruns)

Good day/Bad day?: Good (I kind of gave it away in the title...)

Yeah, it was a busier day than most so far, which is still not that busy. My 2 big things were going in to get 2 of my drains out--to be honest, I was kind of dreading it and thinking it would hurt like the dickens, but again, really not a whole lot of sensation in the area! Thank you to Mary for offering a hand to sqeeze even though it turned out not to be needed. The other was getting my pathology reports from the surgeon today. Few highlights: the L side had no cancer found at all, the R tumor was a little smaller than anticipated (2.2x1.7cm), clear margins all around, no other R side tumors, and of all 22 nodes on that side, the only one with cancer spread was the very one they biopsied initially. The "suspicious" ones from the scans were enlarged but had no cancer! I was fully prepared for 3 or more nodes involved. That's really good to feel a lot more solid in not doing radiation after chemo, because I was concerned about the side effects of the radiation on top of taking out my nodes on that side. I'll still sit down and hear them out, but I'm really leaning away from radiation, too.

It's interesting, because for some reason I couldn't help myself from going in the direction of thinking, "Should I have had as much taken off as I did?", both with the nodes and the other side. I'm over it and know that I made the best decision I could with the info I had, and I'm greatly reducing my risk of recurrence and a new primary cancer. Still interesting that second guessing can be such an automatic thing...

Another one of these times I'll talk, too, about what this experience has given me to think about for Mom's course with breast cancer. Tonight, though, Mary & I stayed up a little later watching a George Clooney movie and it's time for bed (2 more good things!).

Tomorrow, looking forward to breakfast with my sistas and maybe another visitor or 2. Thank you for all the great messages of support that keep coming!

August 4, 2010

Every other day

Good day/Bad day?: Partly sunny

I think I'm finding that I alternate days now--yesterday was pretty seemless, today I was fighting the woozies again for a while. But that's okay and was a good excuse for 2 naps! I'm trying to cut back a little on the pain pills but have essentially bruising on my chest wall that just aches persistently after a while, so it's a delicate balance. At least I haven't had the healing kind of itching yet, and I'm hoping the lack of nerves along my incisions means I won't really have it, because that could be a beast.

I did get out and go with Mary for the daycare drop-off and pick-ups today, so that's progress! I'm thinking in a day or 2 I'll feel bold enough to take her out for some breakfast and maybe an errand or 2. Tomorrow we'll probably go in and have 2 of my drains taken out, so I'll likely be down to one until next week. Whoa, that was a lot of 2s in one paragraph!

I don't have any new insights today and am just taking it as it comes. The more you talk to people, the more you realize everybody's got something going on--the cancer card sounds important and intimidating and I'll reserve the right to use it, but it doesn't win some of the shittiest-day battles, does it?

August 3, 2010


Good day/Bad day?: Good

Feeling much better than yesterday--started off the AM a bit nauseous, but it got better quickly. I had a lovely visit from Val bearing oatmeal pancakes and bacon from Manna to brighten my morning and do some catching up--thanks, dear! Then had a bit of an afternoon rest, a delightful sandwich that made me happy (don't ask me why I'm telling you, but it was turkey with olive tapenade, a bit of mayo, and a fresh garden tomato--should've added a little crunch with cucumber), and another lovely visit, this time from Erica. So, to answer a question to no one in particular, yes I'm up for visitors most of the time, and if I'm not I'll be honest with you.

Still haven't left the house, but I'm going to dip my toes in tomorrow AM and take Olive to daycare with Mary to help settle her in. Don't plan on much more ambitious than that and will likely have some more naps than today!

Thank you again and 'bye to Kathy, who's been invaluable. And welcome to my sister Mary, who'll quickly remember what it was like when her kids were little...

I'm trying to start thinking of what will be helpful for me to do with this little chunk of time before I go back to work. I'd love to go on some sort of spiritual journey and figure out what it all means, but A) a little premature, and B) I'll still be uncomfortable for a while. So, in other words, I have to figure out little things that will be enjoyable and fill me up a little without being too taxing. Got some pondering to do, and may very well wind up watching crappy TV and being lazy instead of something more enlightened. We'll see. Let the chips fall where they may.

Oh, BTW, I'm sorry there haven't been any other pictures of interest in a while--Ben and I haven't coordinated our photo downloads and sharing very well yet. We'll throw some in soon!

August 2, 2010

Rough around the edges, green around the gills...

Good day/Bad day?: Little bad

I was getting a little ahead of myself not really feeling "sick" since I've been home, but today was a different beast. Not dramatically so, but I was a little paler than the last few days. I was sick to my stomach for the first time since the hospital and a little nauseous throughout the day, and taking the nausea meds made me sleepier. Good thing Olive was in day care or I would have felt worse about not playing with her. I felt bad enough having Kathy fly through the house with her chore list and actually take on mopping the laundry room!

Speaking of Olive, I'm feeling a little weird because she's starting to react less to me, look for hugs less, be soothed by me less. Maybe it's my imagination, but I'm feeling a change. If so, she's doing what she needs to do and gravitating to the people who can do more caregiving, but I wonder what it'll be like in however many weeks when I'm able to get back in there. Will it come back easily, or will she fight me? Luckily, she's pretty easy-going when it comes to new people, 'cause this shouldn't have to be hard on both of us...

Tomorrow evening will be a changing of the guard with Kathy leaving and Mary coming. Good luck, Mary! Kathy's written 3 pages of "things to know", i.e. Jenny's "way" of doing things that makes me feel more high-maintenance than I thought I was (most of it daughter-related). At least Ben seemed surprised that there was that much to warn people about!

So, how am I doing? I'm feeling pretty schlumpy today and wondering when I'll feel fit to go back out in public again, hiding from the world in my p.j.s. I'm reading more about the cancer, which I need to do for my own satisfaction, but it also makes me walk ahead to the chemo part of things and start to get scared. One step at a time.

On the plus side, got a cookie bouquet (thanks, Sue!) and goodies from Ben's grandma, including fudge--yay! Here's hoping the stomach's better tomorrow.

I'm wondering if people want to see my chest or if that would freak them out. Should we do voting? I almost want to post a picture so that the surprise is gone... I'll think about it, and feel free to give your feedback. Goodnight!

August 1, 2010

Settling in...

Good day/bad day?: Both

First, a thank you to my wonderful Ben for that last post. I can't imagine what it's like to be in his shoes because I have a hard enough time figuring out what it's like to be in mine. He didn't do or say one wrong thing, is in there with it right in his face and just changing the dressings, helping me wash my hair, etc. without batting an eyelash.

I kind of feel the same way, but that's because I don't think I believe it yet. I can look in the mirror and look down at myself and intellectually know what's happened, but I don't think I know it's not going to be undone yet. I'm sure a lot of this journey will be like that. I'll just keep moving forward, a bit incredulous and maybe a bit in denial. We'll see.

All in all, I'm doing much better than I expected, having less pain, more mobility. For the nurses in the audience, I have 3 JP drains that I can manage myself, and my suture lines are covered with steri-strips and don't really need anything over them. Not as involved as I imagined. The mobility changes and loss of feeling and sensation are what I don't think you can anticipate, throughout the front of my chest, into my armpits and down the back of my arms. Pins & needles doesn't do it justice, but it's different than pain. Weird.

Struggling already with not being able to hold Olive. I can sit at the table and feed her, and hug her somewhat, but the rest is limited. This is going to be an extra long recovery...

Special thanks to my MIL Kathy for doing everything and trying to make it sound like you're enjoying it!

A little late

Leave it to me to ruin a track record of at least a post a day. Jenny was too tired yesterday to post and asked me to do it. I guess I was too tired too. In any case, here are the happenings of yesterday:

We had quite a few visitors through the day, and we now have enough food to make it through the winter. Thanks everyone for all the good stuff and for taking time to visit with us. I think a huge component of getting through this is knowing how much support we have.

I helped Jenny bathe and change dressings yesterday, which was my first good look at everything. I had caught glimpses when nurses were poking around at the hospital but no "full frontal" until now. I didn't know what to expect or how I'd feel about it, and I kind of sheltered myself from information about the procedure so I could draw my own conclusions. Well, when I saw Jenny's non-boobs, I was not grossed out at all, and I didn't feel sorry for her. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it was more of a point of fascination than anything. I guess the scientist/DIY guy/knowledge seeker in me kicked in and all of a sudden I was done sheltering myself from the particulars of the procedure and wanted to now everything about how it's done. What I'm getting at is that any kind of issues I thought I might have are just not there. Nothing has changed for me in the way I look at Jenny or the way I feel about her. I'm glad for that.

Jen is an amazingly beautiful person and doesn't need boobs to prove it. I'd rather have Jenny sans boobs than no Jenny any day. All of the things in this life are temporary and constantly changing, and I think the best thing to do is ride the wave and look for that beauty that's hiding in every ugly thing.