Sometimes Life Hands You Lemons

(in which case you make limoncello)

It’s A Beautiful Day for New Boobs

What is it with men and their tools/toolboxes?  As hard as I try, I don’t quite understand it.  As part of my furniture painting obsession, I needed to remove some hardware from a dresser.  Now, one would think this wouldn’t be an issue since I have my own toolbox, toolbelt (oh yes I do!) and my own set of tools.  On this particular day though, I couldn’t find my screwdriver . . . not a big deal I thought to myself, I’ll just help myself to BHE’s tools.  As I opened his toolbox drawers, the neatness and cleanliness of his tools were a bit overwhelming . . . ooooooh, they were so shiny, like diamonds: 

BHE’s Toolbox: Who keeps tools this neat and tidy?

My toolbox:  a bit of a hot mess.

My toolbox: a bit of a hot mess.

When BHE realized I had used his beloved tools, he went a bit beserk (you’d think he would’ve been proud of me for getting all DIY but no)

BHE:  “What is my screwdriver doing on the ground?”

Me:  “I used it to take the nobbies off that dresser.”

BHE:  “Are you out of your mind?”

Me:  “Sometimes.  Why do you ask?”

BHE:  “Do NOT use my tools for your projects.  That is an $80 Snap-On screwdriver.”

Me:  “You’ve got to be kidding?  Really?  Not to burst your bubble, but it didn’t work any better than my $5.99 screwdriver from Target.  Besides, I couldn’t find my screwdriver, so I HAD to use yours.” 

BHE:  “Don’t make me have to start locking my toolbox to keep you out.”

Me:  “You can’t do that.  Besides, we’re married . . . your tools are now my tools.” 

BHE:  “I’m not kidding around.  DON’T TOUCH MY TOOLS.” 

Then he proceeded to nut up a bit because his screwdriver was dusty.  You heard that right.  Dusty.  Aren’t tools meant to get dirty?  Just like you should never trust a skinny cook, I’m wondering if you shouldn’t trust a dood with clean tools?

Two days later, I travelled to Oregon for work and when I came home, voila, BHE had stocked my toolbox with all sorts of new goodies.

A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty

So, to show my appreciation to BHE, I returned the favor with this sign that is now hanging over his precious goods.

Just so we're all perfectly clear

Just so we’re all perfectly clear

On the health front, at noon today I will be undergoing reconstructive surgery.  I’m pretty stoked for a variety of reasons:  1) getting these awful tissue expanders out, which I’ve had now for 10 months 2) this is the final phase of the last year and a half and 3) a new set of breasts is an added bonus 🙂

I thought it would be a simple, outpatient, back-to-work-within-a-week type surgery and was quite surprised to find out an overnight stay in the hospital is required (I’m not complaining since our hospital is like a Four Seasons), and three-weeks of recovery time. 

BHE will be sending out updates throughout the day but if you don’t hear from him, feel free to text him at (831) 278-2946.  I’ll talk to you all in the very near future.

6 Comments »

Hair, Glorious Hair (and one deceased gopher)

Hi fabulous people. It’s been awhile I know . . . and I’ve been meaning to get something posted for oh, going on about 7 weeks now and just couldn’t really get around to making the time. This thing called “back to work” is soooooo messing up my time management skills, especially when there is so much to talk about, such as Gwyneth Paltrow named People’s Most Beautiful Woman?  (WHAT?!?! I seriously cannot be the only one disturbed/flabbergasted by this?), the premier of the Bachelorette (a total snoozer this year but that won’t stop me from watching it) and my 1-month experiment of not buying anything online (it’s hard, oh soooooo hard)  . . . but here is a quick update:

The CTscan that I had awhile back resulted in very good news:  I’m officially cancer-free.  I should’ve probably let some of you know this earlier but I figured no news = good news.  I’m now taking Tamoxifen for the next 5-10 years, and the hot flashes are killing me and the mood swings are killing BHE.  Most things, on most days, irritate me all to hell (him included), and weekly accupuncture doesn’t seem to be helping much.  There are a couple options they can give me 1) a low dose anti-depressent or 2) a anti-seizure med which works miracles for hot flashes.  I’m not keen on taking yet another med, but I don’t know if I can stand the hot flashes for the next five-to-ten (and I’m pretty sure BHE will throttle me before then) so if I don’t find relief within the next couple of months, I may cave. 

Hair update:  Short of looking like a crazed drug addict, or a homeless hobo, I thought I would Google “very short hairdo’s” and see what I could come up with for inspiration and possibly give this mop some sort of “style.”  So the hair is easily a few inches longer now . . . and each day it’s the same ‘ol, same ‘ol:  me trying to slick it down and by the end of the day, because of its natural curl/texture, it ends up going completely apeshit on me. I had no intention of turning this into any kind of a post but after my 2nd day, I decided that you should share in my pain (because that’s just the kind of person I am). I found three separate looks online that I figured would not be too hard to replicate. Armed with my cute pics in hand each morning, and a plethora of hair products, I was ready for a new look. Here’s what I came up with:

Day 1
Aaaand, here we go . . .

Totally adorable right?

Totally adorable right?

I'm not sure what went wrong here?

I’m not quite sure what went wrong here?

Day 2
It’s time to channel my inner Halle Barry goddesss

This one is going to be easy

How hard can this one be?

Nailed it

Nailed it

Note the two black eyes – I haven’t slept for weeks due to a rogue, big black & red, and what I’m sure is a poisonous spider on the loose in the bedroom.  Not only was he the ugliest spider I’ve ever seen, but he is one of those “smart” spiders. You know which ones I’m talking about? As I stood & stared at him for a good 5 minutes (to make sure I wasn’t imagining this and pondering if this warranted a 911 call to BHE), he sat there and stared back at me. Each time I made the slightest move, so did he, ala bobbing and weaving style.  He escaped.

Day 3
Yes, there’s more.  Try to contain your excitement.   

Kerry Russell Hair

Maybe something that is closer to my hair’s own natural texture will work better?

Yessss!

This is just starting to get embarrassing really

So it’s now a proven fact that I will NEVER be a hairstylist.  So I called on the professionals to try to tame this fire hazard. And voila!

THIS is why my hairdresser is my new best friend

THIS is why my hairdresser is my new best friend

So there you have it.  Now I just need to move my hairdresser in with me so she can style it for me.  Every. Day.

I’ll leave you with this final pic:  in case it’s hard to make out, it’s BHE’s cat making a meal of a gopher IN THE HOUSE.  In my state of panic & yelling, yes, I stopped long enough to snap a pic, and then continued on with NOT keeping my cool.  I beat her ass and threw her outside (okay, maybe I didn’t beat her ass, but I TOLD her I was gonna beat her ass and then I tossed her outside).

Gopher murderer

Gopher murderer

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I Think I’m Back to Being Almost Fabulous?!

In my own mind anyways?

I know, I know . . . I haven’t written anything in like, forevvvver but honestly, there just hasn’t been all that much to tell you all about.  I think of all kinds of good stuff to tell you all when I’m laying in bed, or driving down the road, and then by the time I get around to it, I’ve forgotten all the wildly witty and funny shit I was gonna say.  Ughhhh.  Trust me though . . . it’s usually hilarious stuff I come up with at midnight, while BHE keeps me awake with his snoring.

I have a CTscan scheduled this Friday which I was pretty sure would be NO BIG DEAL since I was previously given a clean bill of health.  This will be the first CTscan since completing all of my treatments and will be the first of many for many years to come.  As Friday nears, I’m finding myself getting a tad nervous about it all.  What if they find anything new?  What if they missed something?  I’d like to tell you that I won’t take an entire handful of Ativan prior to my appointment, but I’d be lying.  There’s a reason why doctor’s prescribe this stuff, so my fingers will be crossed.

For those of you who didn’t see the Facebook pics, BHE and I went to Hawaii in March for our celebratory Eff You Cancer / Treatment is Over vacation.  We went to the Big Island . . .  and newsflash for you:  don’t bother, unless of course you like vacationing on the moon.  If you like lava, this is THE place for you.  BHE had been to this island ~25 years ago and has done nothing but rave about it since I’ve known him, which is why we went there.  On day #3 he says “Why did we come to this island?”

Me:  “Ummmm, because you’ve been telling me how great it is?  Oh look, more lava.”

BHE:  “Oh.  So sorry.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Regardless of the landscape, we still had a fabulous time.  For those of you who know BHE, you know that next to my sister, he’s one of the whitest people on the planet.  To give you a good visual, think “Where do the white socks end and the legs begin?”  Or “Are legs really supposed to be translucent?”  Sun is NOT his friend, which always makes spending any time in the tropics a challenge for him (we should seriously buy stock in sunscreen).  This trip was no exception since I planned on doing nothing but being a poolside lounge lizard, with a frosty pina colada in hand (duh).  At one point, he actually mentioned that he wished my sister was there so he had some company in the shade!  The poor guy actually came home from Hawaii 3 shades lighter than when we left (I tried to talk him into getting a spray tan before we came home but he refused).

So the point to my story is that I wore my compression sleeves on the plane and despite all my anxiety about lymphadema and me ballooning up like Kim Kardashian, I actually didn’t!  I snuck into the airplane bathroom and did my little exercises (because I was too embarrassed to do them in my seat), massaged my limbs like I was supposed to, and did my pool exercises almost every day.  Crisis averted.  Hooray!

I started back to work on April 1 which just let me tell you, is kinda nice.  Makes me feel like a normal person again (well, normal as I can be anyways, which isn’t saying much).  I actually get up in the morning with a new purpose and on the days I’m not working from home, I actually wear real clothes you guys, not yoga pants, or PJ’s.

Yoga

My Lazy Housewife of Santa Cruz days lady of leisure days are over, and just lemme tell you that BHE is beyond stoked about it, mostly because he won’t receive texts all day like this anymore:

photo[2]

My first day back at work felt like the first day of school.  Remember those days?  Outfit:  check.  Mani & pedi:  check.  Lunch money:  check.  Laptop and bag:  check.  There were just two things that gave me the most angst about going back to work:

  • The thought of people popping into my office all day welcoming me back, checking out my short hair do, and asking questions.  I know everyone means well, and they are genuinely concerned, but I just really didn’t want to talk about it with random acquaintances.  Much to my surprise, day one actually went really well and there was no steady stream of co-workers (I’m not as popular as I think I am? Obviously).  Go figure.
Fabulous 1

Would it be rude to hang this outside of my office?

  • Will I remember how to do my job?  Yes, I was/am still a tad worried since I haven’t been working for almost a year and I’m pretty sure the chemo and too much mindless tv crap fried part of my brain.  Months ago, I actually asked my bestie how her grandpa was doing . . . completely forgetting that he had passed away (wait, what?  how could I forget that?).  Imagine the look of mortification when she had to remind me . . . it’s things like that have me very concerned.  It’s only been a week and a half but things are coming back slowly and I’m finding my work groove again.

My manager flew in from Oregon for my first day back, which was the sweetest thing EVER and my co-workers surprised me with this:

Bon Jovi
It’s tickets to see Bon Jovi in concert (insert squeals of joy here) and I honestly thought I was going to flatline from sheer excitement!  BHE will most likely need to bring a portable defibrillator to the concert just in case.  Just kidding.  Well, not really.  I can’t promise that I won’t embarrass myself while rocking on with my bad self, but I will TRY to show some sort of restraint, no matter how small it may be.  I may (or may not) post pics . . . it’s all going to depend on how much of a jackass I make of myself.

Next week (April 17th to be exact) will be the 1 year anniversary since we received this unpleasant diagnosis and needless to say, we will most likely be celebrating with a cocktail (or two or three).  Looking back, it’s almost hard to believe and everything is a bit of a blur but it goes without saying that I’m thankful for all of the support from family and friends, BHE, and my doctors.  It really did take a small damn village.  From the surgical nurse who held my hands in the OR knowing I was scared to death, to Carol, my nurse navigator, who walked me through each step and dealt with my daily neurosis, to my three oncologists, two surgeons, infusion nurses, lymphadema and physical therapist, along with all of you, who are the people who helped us get through this past year.  From Vivian, who coordinated our Meals on Wheels, to Ruth who helped get me back on track in the faith department when I was going through my “very-angry-with-the-big-man-upstairs” phase, to the most beautiful handmade “Kicking Cancer’s Ass” quilt by Kris, and the cards, flowers, books, shirts and goodies sent by everyone (you know who you are!), BHE and I are ridiculously appreciative.  I know I sound like a broken record but during this past year, you have all helped make what was an almost unbearable year, pretty bearable.  I’m lucky to be surrounded by such goodness.

Faith

I’m not going to shut this blog down just yet, but putting this all behind us, and moving forward is our ultimate goal.  I may feel the dire need to post in the future about the Bachelor/Bachelorette, my potential new career as backup singer for Bon Jovi, my 36DD’s which will be installed sometime in August (don’t be ridiculous, they’re only 36C’s 🙂 ), my Target finds, or my first trip to the Goodwill to not actually drop off old clothes but to actually purchase something.  Yah, you heard that right.  It’s a whole story within itself and let me just tell you that buying something at the Goodwill is not as inexpensive as one might think.  Until then, I will leave you with these pictures of our new furry son.  If you would like to meet him in person (because seriously, these pics don’t even do him justice), just inbox me.

Lady, quit taking my picture all the time would ya?

Lady, quit taking my picture all the time would ya?

It's exhausting being a kitten

It’s exhausting being a kitten

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

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Meet My New V-Day Friends

Ok, maybe they’re not technically “friends” but they let me take their picture in the grocery store so that’s gotta count for something right?

This gentleman didn't want me to show his face (I'm pretty sure it's because he doesn't want his wife to know he's picking up a gift for her at the market)

This gentleman didn’t want me to show his face (I’m pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t want his wife to know he’s picking up a gift for her at the market)

As I was at Safeway today, I became obsessed with watching the male species frantically look at what to buy their significant others.  It was quite amusing so I pretty much made a day of it . . .

photo[1]

 
Don't even get me started on this guy

Don’t even get me started on this guy. He actually had a 2013 stamp on his foot (so you can keep track of your teddy bear collection?)

 
I'm not sure what this is, but it's seriously creeping me out

I’m not sure what this is, but it’s seriously creeping me out

 
Who buys these is what I want to know? You know who buys these ugly ass teddy bears? I’ll tell you who . . . the guys who didn’t even realize it was Valentine’s Day until they heard it on the radio on the drive home from work (i.e. 20 minutes ago). So they panic, swing into the market, select a totally inappropriate card from the picked over leftovers because all the good ones are gone, and grab a bear on the way to the checkout stand. If BHE brought me a teddy bear for ANY occasion, I’m pretty sure I would take the bear and beat him over the head with it. 
 
I also found these items while wandering around.  Two words:  EPIC FAIL
 
Hot pink sippy cup - whoever receives this is ONE lucky lady.  Then again, it could come in handy for alcoholic beverages?

Hot pink sippy cup – whoever receives this is ONE lucky lady. Then again, it could come in handy for alcoholic beverages?

  
I'll admit that he's a little cute but I'm biased because my hair is resembling his right now

I’ll admit that he’s a little cute but I’m biased because my hair is resembling his right now

 
Huh?  Cookies on a stick?

Huh? Cookies on a stick?

These two gentlemen were the highlight of my trip. 

IMG_9794[1]

They didn’t know one another, but were discussing the flower options between themselves as if they were discussing which president to vote for.  It was quite the dilemma for them (and quite entertaining for me).  Should they buy the $9.99 bouquet of flowers?  Or the $14.99 bouquet?  Decisions, decisions.  When I asked them if I could snap a pic of them pondering their purchases, the conversation went something like this:

Them:  “What for?”

Me:  “I’m writing an article on Valentine’s Day” (it’s not a complete lie right?)

Them:  “For what publication?”

Me:  “Hellooooo . . . the NY Times” (ummmm, because that’s where all the NY Times writers hang out.  In Santa Cruz.  In Safeway).

Them:  “Really?  Sure!” (they obviously weren’t afraid, or maybe they just didn’t care?)

Afterwards, as I was heading home, I came across a young, homeless vet.  Now, I know V-day isn’t my thing but 1) vets shouldn’t be homeless and 2) shouldn’t be standing on the street corner looking for handouts.  For him, I wished him a “Happy Valentine’s Day” and gave him his very own Valentine . . . because it doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, a vet shouldn’t be in that situation.  Ever.

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Is It Over Yet?

Almost!!!  I’m referring not just to my situation, but to Valentine’s Day as well.  I despise Valentine’s Day.  Always have.  I’ll rant about the 10,000 reasons why in a moment. 

V is for vodka

So technically, I am 99% done with treatment (insert massive screams of joy here)!  I’m officially cured (or as the doctor’s call it “in remission).  I say tomatoe, they say toomatoh.  I don’t really get the entire “in remission” thing?  Call me crazy but when you get the flu, and it goes away, it’s not “in remission” right?  I prefer the term “cured” so I’m running with it.  I won’t be having another ctscan until this summer since I’ve had enough radiation to kill a horse lately and I need a break from it all. 

Up next:  I start meds for the next five years which will cut the chances of it coming back by 50%.  I will be taking what is called a “estrogen blocker” since my type of cancer feeds off of estrogen.  Basically, all the good stuff that estrogen does for us ladies, will be taken away.  I have been procrastinating in starting the meds because the side effects have me very scared.  I know I’m just postponing the inevitable, but I’d like a couple of weeks to just feel like a normal human being before being hit with these doozies:

  • Nausea/sick to stomach
  • Joint pain
  • Hot flashes (if they get any worse, I’m gonna go up in flames soon)
  • Loss of libido (BHE is pretty stoked about THAT one)
  • Weight gain/inability to lose weight (seriously?)
  • Thinning hair (and just when I thought I was going to get my lush locks back)
  • Mood swings/irritability (to add to the ones I’ve already got going on)
  • Blood clots

The weight thing has me pretty bummed since I’ve been eating healthy, going to physical therapy, and exercising and now that I’m on a roll, this medication will most likely interfere with my Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover issue.  Gah.  I can’t win.  The upside (because there ALWAYS is one somewhere) is that I’m told I won’t be growing a mustache and I won’t start souding like Barry White anytime soon. 

On Valentine’s Day, my port will be removed.  It’s not a big deal . . . it’s an in-office procedure using only a local anesthesia.  This will be the highlight of my V-day since the entire holiday just overall irks the shit outta me.  It’s so overrated I can’t hardly stand it.  If you’re single, you’re made to feel like a leper, and if you have a significant other, then you are forced to profess your love with cheesy tokens of goodness such as $5 pieces of paper cards, candy, and red roses because February 14th says you’re supposed to.  Maybe it’s me, but I don’t like being told what to say and do just because it’s V-day (February 14th, you’re not the boss of me!).  Some of you may remember my “Anti-Valentine’s Day” dinner parties in the past.  I may need to reinstate them now that I think about it. 

V-day BHE

V-day Jeannie

The hair is coming along fabulously thanks to Nioxin . . . I’ve even got some teenie tiny curls popping out the back.  Last night, me and my 8-year old nephew were comparing our hairstyle lengths on Skype.  I haven’t caught up to him yet but I’m almost there.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with my latest online find (yes, it’s right up there with the cheese curler).  I’ll give you $1 if you can guess what it is:

What IS it?

What IS it?

Hint:  got chubby calves?

It’s a boot stretcher!  Now, I don’t consider myself to have chubby calves (let’s just call them “athletic” and leave it at that) but finding boots to fit them is sometimes a challenge.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes to have muffin tops anywhere on their legs, especially below the knees.  It’s disturbing.  I’ve taken my boots to the cobbler to have the tops stretched, and it’s a complete waste of time and money, so I did some research and found this contraption online that works like a charm.  So far I’ve stretched 2 pairs with 2 more lined up (just say NO to muffin tops)

BHE:  “And just how much did that thing cost?”

Me:  “How much did it cost??  How much did it cost?!?!  Does it really matter how much it costed??  What matters is NOT the price, but the very fact that it’s going to pay for itself just in the boots alone I have in the closet that are too tight.  Aaaaand, let’s not forget to mention the money I’m going to make by charging our friends and neighbors for my boot stretching services.” 

BHE:  (insert eye roll here)

He should know better than to ask silly questions like that 😉

While stretching these boots, I noticed these itty bitty teeth marks on the toes courtesy of Walter gnawing on them way back when 😦  Here is the pic of I took of him when caught red handed.  I wonder if I’ll ever get over him?

Shoe gnawing

Oh how we miss him every day still!!

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Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Hallelujah!

Last May, as I was starting treatment, the end seemed nowhere in sight and I counted down the days, the minutes, and sometimes even the seconds until this was over.  Radiation is nearing completion, and while there will be a multitude of doctor’s appointments, scans, medications, and other lifelong changes, I consider this final phase the “end” of treatment and I’m hoping my port will be removed sometime in March, pending final results and good news. 

Last week, as I was walking through the parking lot to my radiation appointment, I felt a swoosh of something through my hair/head.  It was such a foreign feeling that it caught me by surprise . . . was it a bug?  A bird?  Was it my imagination?  I actually spun around but there was nothing there and after a few minutes pondering, I realized it was the wind.  It was a breeze blowing through my luscious locks (ok, maybe they’re not luscious YET, but the breeze actually created movement)!!  I was so excited at the very thought that I had to try to recreate it on the drive home by rolling down all four windows in the car, and hanging my head out like a damn dog.  When BHE arrived home, I was fanatical about it:  “Let’s go for a ride. Now!”  Best. Feeling. Ever.  The hair is starting to get a mind of its own and is starting to stick straight up, especially near the eye of the storm/hurricane.  There is no talking any sense into it whatsoever, and no amount of gel will hold it down.  It’s not unusual to hear me mumbling each morning “Damn you hair, lay your ass down.  PLEASE.  I beg of you.”  I actually woke up with a mohawk the other morning, so rather than fight it, I just rocked it all day long.  In another month, I’m afraid it may start to look like I stuck my finger in a light socket:

Baby

Me, circa 1968

Lymphedema therapy is high on my radar screen right now due to the radiation and the damage it causes (a muscle in my left arm is actually atrophying).  Since most of my lymph nodes on my left side were removed and just a few on my right, appointments with a therapist are educating me on how to keep my arms from swelling up like Jessica Simpson balloons.  All of my doctor’s indicated that lymphedema therapists are a bit over the top, are slightly paranoid, and like to use scare tactics when it comes to new patients.  Our first therapist was no exception . . . both BHE and I walked out shell-shocked due to just a few of these no-no’s we were told about:

  • No more carrying my purse with my left arm (this could be problematic as my purse usually carries everything, including the kitchen sink)
  • No more carrying a grocery bag in each arm.  Both arms are now to be used to carry ONE bag at a time (again, problematic as who has time to make 10 trips out to the car to carry in ONE bag at a time?  Puleeeze.)
  • No picking up of children.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem since I don’t even really like them (just kidding), but for my two favorite boys, Reid & Chase, this just isn’t going to happen.  It’s not even up for discussion.  Period. What about the people who have small children living at home?  It just seems completely unreasonable really. 
  • If you live somewhere rural where you are required to do any physical activity such as carrying wood, water, trash . . . then you are advised to move closer to town (yeah sure, right after you win the lotto?)

Obviously, we now have a new therapist who isn’t neurotic and is pretty darn fabulous.  She has taught BHE how to do lymph massage on me (bummer right? says me never), sews special micromassaging fabric into my bra’s, works on my scars with her uber-cool laser beam, and will pretty much keep tabs on me from here on out.  Lymphedema is irreversible once it sets in, so it’s all about prevention.  Measurements were taken in 1-inch increments from the tips of my fingers, all the way up to my shoulders and these measurements will be taken every month to monitor any swelling.  Going forward, I will have to make some lifestyle changes such as always wearing gardening gloves in the yard as dirt, bugs and cuts on my hands will need to be avoided since my hands won’t be able to heal themselves as they once could.  No more manicures due to possible unsanitary equipment, cutting of the cuticles, and infections.  Compression garments (arm Spanx/boobie Spanx) will be worn on both arms at the smallest sign of swelling or pain, will be worn during any travel where there will be elevation changes (such as Lake Tahoe), and will also be worn on all flights.  The first order of business after I hop off of a flight:  get directly into the ocean or in a pool so the water pressure can help reverse the effects of the flight. Each week, I get hooked up to this contraption below . . . it’s a massage jacket!  Genius right?!  It may not look super fashionable, but let me just tell you, it’s pretty awesome . . . it gets hooked up to a machine where they can manage the pressure and it massages from the tips of my fingertips, up my arms to my shoulders, and then down my sides.  Basically, it’s moving fluid up my arms and down into my torso where my lymph nodes there can pick up the slack.  Best invention ever and when I win the lotto, I’m definitely getting one. 

Massage jacket

Oh, and it’s been proven that lymphedema is directly related to weight, so my chubby bum is officially on a diet.  I’m down 3 lbs since last week, so I’ll be expecting Sports Illustrated to be calling shortly for my swimsuit cover 😉

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Time to Get My Sexy Back?

Or try anyways – it won’t be an easy task, but since it was my birthday this week, I’m gonna go with it.

How old do you think I turned this week? 35? 42? 55? (if you guessed 55, that’s so totally NOT funny by the way) If we’re gonna get all technical about it, my birth certificate claims I’m 45, but if I had to go with the perfect “forever” age, I’m gonna go with 36. It was sort of a great age for me . . . I can’t remember all the details but I think I was thin (or hell, at least thinner)? 40 wasn’t looming so close that I was dreading it, and my body hadn’t yet started going all to hell. I certainly don’t feel 45 because well, you all know I rock a third grade mentality most of the time. As inappropriate as BHE claims I am, I can’t help myself.

So while mentally I don’t feel as old as I am, these past 8 months have aged me like a Chinese Shar-Pei. Time to bring in the big guns, so today I went in for a small dose of some wrinkle erase therapy (aka Botox). Simmer down now folks, I Google’d it to make sure it was safe while going through treatments . . . and if the internet says its ok, it must be ok, right? My dermatologist also gave me the thumbs up – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

I’m a little more than halfway through radiation and my skin is pretty angry about it and the fatigue kicked in this week, as promised. I don’t know why I’m always in denial about these side effects. You’d think that by now I would realize that I’m not going to be the one in a million that it won’t affect. I’m pretty proud of myself and haven’t laid my head down but instead am trying to stay busy with physical therapy exercises, rocking out Elton John style on my piano, and yesterday I toted myself to Target to just wander aimlessly through the aisles to try to keep myself awake. There were a few screaming deals on xmas items that were 90% off. You heard me right, NINETY PERCENT OFF! You can only imagine my surprise when these items practically jumped into my cart on their own.

The weekly lymphadema therapy is also keeping me busy. I have been fitted for the “sleeves” for both of my arms along with various other equipment I’ll need going forward, and the sheer volume of information is overwhelming and downright interesting really. I’ll have an entire post next week for you on this. It’s exciting stuff, let me tell ya 😉

Lastly, my love for The Bachelor, which started this week, has not waned. More to come on this but I can honestly say the season is starting off well as I didn’t have to nag beg BHE to watch it with me. He’ll never admit it, but he’s starting to love it, I can tell 🙂

Crapiness

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2013: Could You Please Be Awesome?

Am I asking too much?  I think not.  The way I look at it, it can only get better, right?

Adios, I will not miss you

Adios, I will not miss you

Regarding radiation, there isn’t a ton to report out on . . . I go in 5 days a week and I just had my 10th radiation treatment, which means I’m 1/3 of the way through.  I must admit it’s going fabulously compared to chemo and surgery.  It’s painless, very streamlined, and very ala Star Trek with laser beams and whatnot.  The majority of radiation specialists are male, which brings me back to the modesty thing . . . I know this is their job, but I sorta feel like they should at least have to take me out for coffee before manhandling my inflatables.  The chit-chat and downright normalcy of our conversations, all while I’m disrobing and being prepped are a tad concerning really.  I have my own cubby (which brings me back to my kindergarten days) where my radiation “goods” are stored for the 6-week session. The only side effect as of today is that my armpit is ridiculously tan.  I’ll have some redness, and possible blistering towards the end, but mostly I’ll be tired, which will be cumulative, and should kick in this coming week.  My radiation oncologist tells me that once the fatigue kicks in, the best thing to do is NOT to lay down and go to sleep, but to get out and go for a walk and exercise.  Seriously?  She’s kidding right?  As if that’ll happen.  Sleep all day?  Don’t mind if I do, thank you, and as a perpetual insomniac, I’ll dig the hell out of that (and am sort of looking forward to it).

Kindergarden 2

Christmas was spent with my family, and Santa (aka BHE) surprised me with a piano keyboard.  My first lesson is scheduled for January 8th and I can’t wait to start . . . not only will I then be able to be a backup singer for Bon Jovi, now I’ll be able to be an actual member of the band, playing a REAL instrument!  It might be difficult being a backup singer, backup dancer, AND keyboardist, but I’m gonna have to make it work somehow.  I rocked my first solo performance last night for BHE.  He was super impressed (click on the below if you’d like to be super impressed also):

Talented right?

The hair is growing back, albeit slow, and honestly, where the hell did all this grey stuff come from?  I certainly don’t remember my hair being this grey.  Sigh.  Never underestimate the power of hair color ladies.  We’re taking weekly pictures of the hair growth and in the end, am hoping to put together a time-lapse type post/video for fun.  My first outing without a hat or wig took place a few weeks ago when we went out to dinner for my dad’s birthday.  Was I self-conscious?  Ummm, yah.  Did people stare?  Hell yes.  Did I get over it?  Yes.  It may not have looked great, but it sure felt good.  And just when I was thinking “See, this isn’t so bad!” I realized that an older couple sitting at the table next to us kept staring.  I mean really staring.  As BHE left the table to use the restroom, the lady came over and sat in his chair (really, she did this . . . I swear I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried), and proceeded to ask and talk to me about my condition.  She was super nice but do people have no boundaries for crying out loud?  The next time this happens, I think I’ll just say “I intentionally wear my hair this way.  Why do you ask?”  Just kidding.  Sort of.  🙂

Hair

As this shit-fest of a year comes to an end, I truly am thankful for so much.  For family, for friends, and for the many doctor’s and nurses who took such good care of me (and who still are) since this all began.  You were all my rocks when I needed you the most. I have made new friends, cherished old ones, realized what’s really important, and what isn’t important anymore.  What’s a bummer is by the time this is all over, BHE and I will have lost over an entire year of our lives to this. I know, I know. In the grand scheme of things, is losing a year or two of your life to cancer, really all that significant considering the average life span today? Probably not, but hear me out. Most of the below is small stuff . . . all those things we take for granted on an everyday basis are the things I missed the most, and quite frankly, make me downright pissy. Hair will grow back, taste buds come back, and pain eventually goes away, but you cannot get your time and/or special moments back (such as hugs, trips to the beach, bbq’s, birthdays, etc.)  I’m bitter for everyone who has to deal with some sort of crap like this in their lives. While at the oncologist a few days ago, a woman who looked to be in her mid-fifties came walking out with a huge binder of information (one of many) that you receive within 1-2 days of your diagnosis. My heart broke for her because she was all by herself, and she looked crushed. I felt like jumping up and hugging her and telling her it would be alright.  At radiation last week, they snuck in a lady before me who they had just brought over from the hospital (she was in hospital bed, full IV hookups, the works). Her sister came and sat next to me and starting telling me about her sister’s prognosis (which was NOT good) and she started crying, which made me start crying. I mean geez, I just didn’t even know what to say to make her feel better so I just held her hand and told her I was so sorry.  Moments like this make me realize that as bad as things were this past year, I know they could’ve been much worse, and I try never to forget that fact. 

Sad

So sayonara 2012 . . . BHE and I look forward to a much better 2013 and we wish all of you a very happy, safe and healthy New Year!

In loving memory of our Walter7/31/2011 - 12/17/2012

In loving memory of our Walter
7/31/2011 – 12/17/2012

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2012: The Year That May Turn Me Into A Raging Alcoholic

In preparation for radiation, which starts next week, my days have been filled with more doctor’s appointments, catscans, and making sure my temporary implants (aka “inflatables”) are filled to capacity.

My big question of the week was “Why must I have radiation if my test results came back clear?”  Maybe it’s me but it seems a little unnecessary given the fact that radiation CAUSES CANCER.  I was informed that radiation is to my benefit due to a couple of factors:  1)  having radiation will cut my chances of the cancer coming back by 66% – a pretty significant statistic and 2) even though my lymph nodes and tissue were tested, there is no way for them to test every single dingle cell, so the radiation will kill any additional cells that could potentially be lingering.  I received some sweet tattoo’s yesterday which look like large freckles (these are to guide the radiation lasers).  My first tats . . . pretty cool eh? 

We’re also learning all about lymphedema.  Since I’ve had my lymph nodes removed from my left arm, preventing swelling and elephantitis of the arm will be an ongoing, lifetime issue.  The best way to explain it is that as I use muscles in my left arm, lymph fluid will flow down into my arm, but the fluid does not have a way to get back out (i.e. the plumbing is no longer working).  Prevention is key I’m told, so I am being fitted for a sleeve (think of Spanx for my arm), and meeting weekly with a specialist for the next umpteen years.  BHE is learning massage techniques to help with swelling and moving the fluid out of my arms.  BHE also went with me to a class which turned out to be a lymphedema exercise class . . . imagine his surprise being the only male, sitting down doing chair exercises with 20 elderly women.  He participated and exercised for a full hour – hee hee!  I would’ve taken a picture if I had brought my camera.  The dood’s a trooper.

Physical therapy is now also on the agenda due to my balance issues.  I can’t seem to walk in a straight line to save my life (I’ll blame it on the chemo).  I swear alcohol has not been involved . . . until last week . . . which leads to my next topic.

On a sad note, I have some very bad news about our beloved Walter, our golden child. For those of you who know me, you know my fur babies are the spoiled rotten little loves of my life.  Since I don’t have kids, they ARE my kids and much to BHE’s dismay, they are permitted to do things that are not always acceptable such as sitting on the dining room table, licking/sharing ice cream from my spoon, sleeping under the covers with us, etc.  BHE loves them as much as I do but he is definitely the disciplinarian in the family.

Walter has not been feeling well the past couple of months and we thought he had a simple tummy ache from eating something he shouldn’t have, or worst case scenario, possibly arthritis.  We expected a dose of antibiotics, some fluids, and he’d be on his way to being the happy, playful, handome guy we know and love.  We received some heart breaking news from the vet in that he’s a very sick little boy.  He has been diagnosed with a virus called FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) to which there is no cure and a 100% fatality rate.  It’s a common virus that affects kitties 16 months or younger and there is no rhyme or reason as to why little Walter got it . . . it boils down to him being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and his little immune system just not being able to fight it off, like most cats can. I’ve been frantically reading everything I can get my hands on about FIP, looking for any glimmer of hope for him, but have come up empty handed 😦

We just can’t catch a break around here and I’m not being dramatic in saying we are devastated beyond belief.  At the moment, we are doing everything we can to keep him comfy and pain free.  His life currently revolves around eating ice cream, yogurt, and all his favorite people foods.  BHE ran out right away and got a Christmas tree so he can experience batting the ornaments around and gnawing on a branch or two. 

I can honestly say that this was the straw that broke this camel’s back.  In my attempt to numb the pain, my alcohol hiatus has ended and very soon I am thinking of making another run to Granny Purps.  It’s.  That.  Bad.  I also went on an online shopping binge in my anguish-induced state of mind.  I’ll have some serious explaining to do to BHE once the boxes start arriving.  To say I’ve been hysterical would be an understatement but we are grateful to have him here with us, even if only for the short amount of time he has left.  When the day comes for him to leave us, he will know without a doubt that he was loved beyond belief. 

May I have a snack please?

May I have a snack please?

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Thanksgiving Thanks

I’ve been pondering all the things to be thankful for this past week and while I’m of course very grateful for family, friends (including  those of you who I haven’t yet met but who have become good friends through all of this), and lucky to live where we do, I’ve decided this post will not be one of those mushy ones regarding all the sappy things to be grateful for.  Instead, I have created my own personal list below of a few important items I’m soooo grateful for, that tend to get overlooked most of the time. 

10.  Lottery Tickets:  Where else can you spend $1 (or $20) and get hours worth of dream time entertainment?  Every time I buy one (which isn’t often enough), I dream of hitting it big.  Not $10 or $15 million big.  I’m talking about $100 million big.  This is a big debate between BHE and I (yes, we actually argue over this) . . . by the time taxes are taken out of $100M, we would only be left with $50M.  Anything less than that would be difficult for me to survive on.  The end.

9.  Guinea Pigs:  Yes please.  Why I don’t have one is beyond me. 

8.  Bon Jovi:  Not just the band, but John Bon Jovi himself.  Am I right or am I right?  I’m pretty sure that if we met, we would be instant best friends forever.  Since BHE is a former 80’s band member himself (see pic below), John would insist that BHE be the drummer in his band and then I could become the ultimate groupie, shop with his wife, and possibly even be a backup singer and/or dancer. 

Rock on With Your Bad Self

7.  Botox:  Self explanatory.

6.  Direct TV/Cable TV:  Lord knows I love reality tv, which is not always ok with BHE.  My current obsession:  Breaking Amish (tune in if you haven’t already).  Not only was it FAC-IN-A-TING, but me, my sister and BHE actually ran into Mennonites on Saturday!  I would have never known what they were had I not watched the show . . . so see, it’s a learning experience also. 

5.  Spanx:  Presto – need I say anymore?

4.  Alcoholic Beverages:  While I’ve been on a hiatus since May (I know, right?), I just hope and pray that I can make up for lost time once the urge comes back.

3.  Obnoxious A-Holes:  Wait.  What?  Why would this make my list?  Well, let me tell you . . . I had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting one of epic proportions last week and they reminded me of the kind of person I NEVER want to be.  No matter how old and crotchety I get, this is NOT an option.  Ever.  And if I ever do, I beg of you to punch me.  In the gut.  Hard.

2.  Bathtubs:  I’ve never met one I didn’t like.

1.  Target:  Because where else can I go for one item, and come out with a boatload of much-needed (or not) STUFF?  It’s genius marketing at it’s best I tell you. 

If you have anything you’d like to add to this list, please do let me know!  In the meantime, I’ve gotta run . . . I’ve got some shopping to do (at Target, duh).  

 

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