Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quick and Sweet . . and some giggles

Okay this one is going to be a quickie.

Yesterday I was pretty down. Now pretty down for me is still watching and loving the The Daily Show, going out to eat with my mom, and laughing remember how incredibly retarded my nurses were (they deserve a whole post to themselves, which will be forthcoming), but I was still down.


The path report showed the chemo did nothing to shrink the tumors. I still had very active and aggressive cancer pretty much everywhere that they thought it would be. It was obviously large and metastatic in my breast, it was in 9/13 lymph nodes (which is almost all of them), so if you extrapolate it is in a lot of lymph node in my breast that they weren't able to remove. It is in my clavicle still, and from my PET scan even though you can't feel it, it is still in my neck.

Which means that while the chemo STOPPED the growth (good), it didn't kill much cancer (bad).

I am usually a pessimistic person, in that I don't expect miracles, but I guess there was this little part of my heart hoping that it was just big dead lumps of cancer cells in me.

So back to the drawing board with me. A/C didn't work, so hopefully another chemo cocktail will.

So with that un-delightful news, here are some things to make you smile! Most are from the BookofJoe.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fighting Cancer and Crime!

I woke up this morning in pain.

The bottle of vicodin was on my night table, but I needed to eat something before I took it so it didn't make me nauseous. I usually have a tin of cookies next to my bed because my chemo medicine does the same thing, but I hadn't stocked it lately.

I glanced at my clock and saw that
it was 9:45. Luis was already downstairs. I could hear the shower running, which meant mom was up, but busy.

I was in too much pain to get up, and too lazy to yell downstairs for Luis to come up, so I decided that I would just wait until mom was out of the shower, ask her to bring me a graham cracker, lay in bed until the meds kicked in, then get up and start my day with an episode of 24 (so ambitious, I know).

So I was lying there, trying not to think about how it felt like someone had hacked into my side with a meat cleaver, when I heart a "BANG" from downstairs.

I stopped breathing so I could listen. It sounded like Luis had dropped a large metal vase (which incidentally, we don't own), or taken a cookie sheet and slammed it up against the wall as hard as he could.

Another WHAM, and this time I felt it reverberate through the house. What the fuck was he doing? I was lying here, in pain, and Luis was messing around downstairs making as much noise as humanly possible!

At the third SMASH, which the pain amplified enormously,
I thew my feet to the floor, stretching the stereostrips that were holding my wound together causing a ripping sensation up my side that made my forehead break out in a sweat, and muttering every swear word I could as I hobbled my way to the bedroom door.

As I opened it, another BANG filled the house, the sound unimpeded by the door. Christ, it was really really loud. What the hell was he doing? I was getting very angry at my husband now.

I looked down at my feet.
Cosi, a 20 lb cat who is all brawn and no brains, was cowering on the top step, his place of refuge from Neecy, Chomksy, the vacuum cleaner, the blender, or the garbage truck, or whatever scares him into shakes next. I started down the stairs, leaning heavily on the railing because the pain was making me dizzy.

Another CRASH from the kitchen, and this time, I heard glass shatter and hit the floor. I wasn't down the stairs yet, but I yelled, "Baby, what are you doing?!"

The noise stopped.

And then I heard a man's voice, completely garbled, like he was talking with this mouth stuffed with grapes, "Blarg Blarg ARg, da Stairs."

Huh? What was Luis talking about? Was he telling me to stay on the stairs?

So I ran down as fast as I could, into the kitchen, and saw the mess.

The door had been kicked in. The frame had held, but the structure of the door had gone to pieces. Glass and wood were all over the floor, and the door was wide open. Someone had tried to break into the house.

Shit. Had Luis gone to chase them? He knows not to do that . . . but when I looked past the porch to our cars, I saw that Luis had taken mine.
Luis wasn't even here.


Okay, quick assessment needed. The guys could still be in the house, but I knew they weren't upstairs.

But Mom was.

In the shower.

A quick scene from Psycho flashed in my head, and I pulled open our knife drawer.
I scrambled around for our largest sharp carving knife. I hobbled back up the stairs and burst into her bathroom.

"Mom! The house was broken into! Lock yourself in, here is a knife!"

I know she had no clue what I was talking about, but I hope that she would figure it out. I slammed the bethroom door, and ran back downstairs.

Okay, Mom was safe, now what was the next step? Police! Or wait, my husband! Which do I call?

Luis won out. I called Luis, told him what happened, and he was on his way.
Then I dialed 911. Which, now reflecting, I don't think I have ever done before. Kind of exciting!

While I was on with 911, Mom came down the stairs and into the kitchen in a towel, trying to figure out what was going on.
Doesn't she watch the scary movies! The people in the towels ALWAYS DIE FIRST!

"Mom! The police are on their way, go back upstairs, and get some clothes on!"

She went back upstairs, and 911 told me that a patrol car was on its way,
so I hung up, rummaged around for the next sharpest, scariest knife we owned, and searched the house.

In retrospect, I know, that wasn't the safest thing to do. I don't know why my thoughts were so clear on what stupid people that get murdered in movies are wearing, but not on what they are doing when they get murdered. So yes, I went to investigate the house, hobbling from room to room, dragging along all my stupid tubing that I still have coming out of my body from the surgery.

As I rounded the corner back into the kitchen with my knife held out in front of me threateningly, I stopped.
There, in the doorway, crouched two men with big black guns, which were trained on my head.

I breathed a sigh of relief.
They had uniforms on. The police were here.

"Hi! I live here!" I waved at them and them and smiled. "I am supposed to be here!"

Mom, now with clothes on, walked into the kitchen at that moment. I pulled her to me. "And she is my mom!"

They lowered their guns.

"Will you please step outside while we secure the house," said the hot one.

Sure, Officer Hot Stuff. Whatever you want.

Remember, at this time I have not entered the bathroom since I woke up. I have not brushed my teeth, I have dried boogers rimming my nostrils, and I have dried drool on my chin. I also have no hair, and a really big, ugly teeshirt on.
But I flash him my most winning smile anyway, and mom and I go outside.

At this moment, Luis ran up the driveway (the police cruiser had blocked him from pulling up next to the house) and gives my right side a big hug. "Are you guys okay?"

I nod, and my mom says we're fine, and I start explaining what happened when the officers came back out.

"No one is inside. As far as you know, was anything taken?" said the not-so-cute one.

I shook my head, "Our purses were right by the door, but I don't think they had time to grab anything. I think they heard my voice as soon as they broke the door, I guess they just ran."

So the officers explained that about 6 streets away there are a lot of people on Columbia St that are homeless, and if they need a fix, they just walk around these houses and see if anyone is home.

"But their were two cars in the driveway! And it's a Sunday!" I exclaimed.

"Well," said Officer Sidekick to Officer Hottie, "it was a pretty ballsy break-in. But when you are an addict, you aren't that logical."

I mean, considering NO ONE had been home for the last four days,
it was pretty coincidental that they picked the first day we were home to break in. My husband had used my car while I was at the hospital, so there had always been his car in the driveway behind the house. We always draw our shades so no one can see our computers and TV, but, I guess some people are desperate!

Officer Babe-alicious and Office Sidekick left, we cleaned up, called our landlord who is installing a new door today, and drank some tea.

The adrenaline, which had masked the pain, wore off, and the vidocin, which is just kicking in, is making it a little hard to concentrate enough to finish this post with a cute conclusion.
However, we are all safe and sound, going to curl up on the couch with some more tea.

I couldn't help but remind Luis that if Chomsky had been here, he would have scared the breaker-iners away! And I am proud to say, I did get a concession there.
Score one for getting a dog!

First day of Chemo was a tornado.

First day home from hospital was a break in.

Wanna place bets on what happens next?

Friday, April 17, 2009

It’s over.


And like chemo, it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

Because my doctor made me get my PET scan the day before, and I thought it was scheduled for Monday, I fasted Sunday for the PET scan I didn’t have. I fasted Monday for the PET scan I did have, and I fasted Tuesday for my surgery. By Wednesday morning, I was HUNGRY! And like my husband, being hungry definitely makes me not such a fun person to be around.

My mom flew in at 11 am from Hawaii nei, but the plane was a little late, she had to wait for luggage, get a rental car, and drive 40 miles to Allen Presby (the hospital). I almost didn’t see her before surgery, and they had already juiced me up with some stuff to put me in a happy place when she flew into my hospital room, gave me a hug, and I was wheeled off.

Apparently, before I left with the anesthesiologist, we were making small talk and I said that the drugs were putting me in a great mood! Dr. Sanchez, the anesthesiologist said something about the drugs being like a margarita mix.

While he was saying that, I slipped into my “Dumb and Dumber” mental state, and I demanded to know how much liver damage the margarita mix was going to cause. My mother said that no one in the room had any idea what I was talking about; until someone made the connection that I thought that the anesthesia was real margarita mix. And that was my cue to be wheeled off-stage to the OR.

Now I was out (obviously), but things took a lot longer than they were supposed to (5 hours rather than 3), so Luis and Mom were pacing and anxious. The chemo had made everything that my breast surgeon wanted to take out clump and get sticky to the stuff she wanted to leave in. I also had the lymph nodes above my collar bone removed to be checked out, which added some time as well. However, I didn’t loose a lot of blood, she took good margins as far as she knows, and hopefully the path and PET scan come out very positively.

So as soon as I came to with the nurses in recovery, I vomited all over the place. Operating rooms need to be kept cold, and along with the effects of the anesthesia I was shaking pretty bad, and tensing up after surgery is not a good thing, so the demerol they gave me stopped the shakes but I emptied whatever was in my tummy.

And I continued to empty my tummy for the rest of the night, which SUCKED, because nothing makes your throat sorer than non-stop barfing coupled with intubation during surgery. Mom slept at the hospital with me because Luis had to teach yesterday, and I continue to swear there is nothing better than your mom when you are sick.

Honestly, the vomiting is worse than the pain from the surgery, which feels like I was attacked by about 20 wasps that stung the crap out of my boob and my armpit. They are very liberal with the pain meds, and make sure I always have my morphine pump at my disposal.

So the nurses finally gave me some anti-nausea meds, and yesterday at 3pm I was able to keep down a cup of chicken noodle soup. I was very proud of myself. Because my mom had flown in on the red eye and was up with me being sick the night after, she took off during the day to crash out at my place in Dallas. Luis had classes yesterday (and his students baked me chocolate chip cookies!!!!), so his closest comrade, Alberto kept my company during the day, and we just laughed and made fun of everything and took naps.

Luis came back that afternoon, brought me Thai food, and we tried to watch two HORRIBLE movies. The first was Australia. It was so weird, because it is set up like this big epic classic, and then is actually like a slapstick melodramatic badly written comedy.

So we turned that off and inserted 7 Pounds, and after two hours we still had NO CLUE what was going on.

I love the show House, and my critical thinking skills honed by watching that medical mystery show were actually put to use by myself in a hospital! I am so proud of myself and my medical sleuthing abilities!

I realized that every time the nurses had been taking my temperature, which always read normal, I had been munching on ice chips! Yes! Ice chips!

Using my powers of deduction, dear Watson, I realized that I had a fever because the ice was actually lowering my temperature to a false normal! I had to beg the nurses to retake my temperature with an ice cube free mouth, and low and behold: fever. I should seriously have my own TV show.

Not sure if I will be out of here tonight or not, depends on how serious the infection (or whatever I have) is, but if that means I get to keep my morphine pump a little longer, that is fine with me!

I have been receiving HUNDREDS of amazing and lovely notes from people. Thank you all so much for your kind support and wishes of aloha. I nap a lot during the day, but my cell phone works if you want to call (although my morphine conversations are a bit slow and I get confused easily) and I will be on email later on. I love you all so much, and I wish that I could be closer to you all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I can't get away from Tornados . . . :(

When I planned this trip to Arkansas, rather than zooming there on Interstate 30, Luis and I decided to travel there through a byway, Talimena Scenic Byway.

Unfortunately, one of the towns we were going to drive through to get there, was flattened by a tornado last night and three people were killed.

I am glad it was on CNN, as I will bring some canned goods in the car and a blanket . . . not sure what the rescue operations are going to be like, but just in case someone needs something . .

Okay, gonna get ready to go! Will have my cell phone if anyone needs me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Roadtrip with my hubby and my tata

So left boob. It is my last weekend with you.

I would have loved to go somewhere and give you a tan, but instead I am going to save
money and go to Hot Springs, Arkansas (See photo) instead. You will still be pampered (baths in luscious warm mineral waters), but it is more of a subdued last hurrah!

I am still not sure how I feel about loosing my breast.

Part of me doesn't give a shit. My ass was always a better asset (no pun intended) than my breasts. I hated them anyway, part of getting teased mercilessly in middle school for being flat chested(and even in high school by the HPA student-body president for Christ's sake). I think that is why I like Latin America. The "bunda" is so much sexier there than boobs. My figure gets much more attention there than in the states.

However, part of me is a little upset. Not because I am going to feel butchered or disfigured, but just in general about the betrayal of my own body. It is an like a subconcious/unconscious suicide.

I don't understand why the definition of amputee only is for the limbs, and excludes woman who loose their breasts. I think while maybe physically not as limiting, it is a huge psychological loss for the female identity. Gotta petition Webster about that.

So what happens after this?

Not sure. Depends on the pathology report from the surgery.

One of the hardest parts about this is not being in control of your future. And I know all the bullshit about, "Well, you never know when you might be in a car accident." But that knowledge that a freak accident might occur doesn't really steal planning for your future away from you, does it? People still apply to college, have kids, raise ferrets ( I know that was random, but that is what popped into my head).

I am a big dreamer, I love to plan (everyone knows I always have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D all mapped out and ready for implementation or modification. Planning for the future keeps me going and happy and passionate.

And that has been taken from me. I could barely plan a weekend for my husband and me, and that was almost thwarted by my stupid blood counts.

I have been relegated to the present, and only to the present. I know that is some sort of state of nirvana, living in the now a major achievement, blah blah blah, but I want to plan! I want to work at a job! I want to travel on a cheap weekend fare! I want to see my friends when I want to! I want to have a cold beer cause it is hot outside! I want to take a nap because I want to, not because I need to!

Okay, enough Dana.

Positivity needed. Laughter needed. Oh! Which reminds me! The Office is on tonight! Gonna dish up some dinner and see what Michael Scott does next. Remember:

‘If you don’t know a Michael Scott, then you are a Michael Scott."

Monday, April 6, 2009


I had the BEST Ta Ta Party!!

I wish it had been longer, that we had more silverware, and that it was Saturday night so people didn't have the next workday nagging at them, but it was so great to have such a wonderful turnout. I think every single person I invited showed up!

The best part is all the leftovers of all the amazing international food that people cooked and brought over. I have lost my appetite these past couple days. It isn't that food grosses me out, I just don't even think about it because I don't get hungry. And because I am lazy, if I am not hungry, I am certainly not going to waste time cooking and eating. But now I have Tupperware containers just brimming with all sorts of yumminess, so I will be stocked until my dear mom gets here and cooks me up a storm.

I was so happy to see Neecy again. She has grown so much, is verbalizing, and is so social and well-adjusted. During the couple months I had her, she was very clingy to adults she knew and didn't play very much with children and now she just bopped between the kids various adults at the party, getting all of them them to feed her sweets. Her grandparents (who are Luis's age) have done an amazing job of raising her. It looks like her mom probably won't be in a position to take over the parenting for a while, but she is thriving, absolutely thriving where she is.

Anyways, it was just wonderful. I haven't been around that many people since election night, and since I worked, everyone left just as I arrived and well, it was phenomenal. Really boosted my mood and outlook. I wish I had photos, but I was too busy to take them!

My friend Carla sent me one with her iPhone (I am so jealous of people who have iPhones). I think I look like a sick cancer patient, but gonna post it anyway ;)

Note to self: apply POWDER not only to face but ALL over bare scalp if under bright lighting!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ta Ta to my TATA!

Tomorrow is my "Ta Ta to my Tata Party" (title inspired by Shuryn's support of breast cancer during Saint Patty's)

Since most of the time I can't leave the house, or alternatively I am feeling to sick to my tummy to leave the house,
this is my first big gathering since our Election Party!

I am very excited because it is potluck. I do need to make something, but I love seeing what people bring.
We went to a departmental party that was potluck, and I couldn't stop eating. Since I am not drinking, that is going to be my main pleasure. I am going to supply a yummy cheese plate, so I think I am going to go to our Dallas Cheese Shop, Scardello's, and go wild. I am also excited because Neecy (the little girl I fostered for several months last year) is coming, and I haven't seen her since Christmas!

I was thinking about popping a Vicodin (martini effect sans the martini), but it makes me pretty simple. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and that makes for a crappy hostess.

My medical update is quite boring:

red blood cells are hovering at "you almost need a transfusion" level. Not enough of them to get oxygen to my body.

Which is really annoying because if I talk on the phone,
I have to yawn every 30 seconds to get enough air for my body, and then the person that I am talking to thinks I am tired, which I am not, but I am getting more and more annoyed at myself, which makes me want to hang up the phone anyway.

My platelets are low. Haven't had to deal with low platelets before. I was at 56 on Wednesday, 40 Thursday, and 36 Yesterday. I need my platelets to at LEAST 100 before my surgery, and probably higher. Normal is 140.

If it keeps dropping, around 20, I have a chance of spontaneous bleeding.
Which might result in bleeding from my eyes.

Which is one step to getting canonized, right? All I would need is a couple of miracles, intercede with God couple times on behalf of the some people and then I could be a Saint! Ha! Could be an interesting experience.

I wanted to hit yard sales today but I have such intense bone pain I think I might have to take a vicodin, which means that I can't drive (did it once, not a positive experience), which means I can't go to yard sales. Catch-22. Sucks.

What did people call Catch-22 situations before the book came out?