Tuesday, September 8, 2009

big legs and thoughts on friends

The swelling in my feet got so bad I am going off taxotere and will replace it with another drug this week. I had 10lbs of water weight gain,which is pretty hectic. It always feels like you have sprained ankles. My legs were so full I couldn't even bend them. Today is the first day that I have seen my ankle bones, so I suspect in another month my lower limbs should be back to normal.

The reason why fluid retention is so dangerous is that you can retain fluid around you heart, which is obviously a hazard. Therefore I need to stop. I am bummed about this for several reasons.
  • Taxotere did not make me want to vomit
  • I knew what to expect. I have gotten into a chemo rhythm. I know how the treatments will affect me, I know how tired I would get (naps required for 4 days), when my taste buds would get back to normal (the second Sunday after my treatment). Now I have to start that "getting-to-know your side-effects" all over again.
  • This chemo regime has been working. Will the next one? The only way you find out is if you don't get cancer after a couple months, or you do . . .
  • I have one less weapon in my arsenal. One less thing that will keep me alive.
I have also been thinking about my friends. Ellie, my best friend from college, is getting married in November, and I am going to Japan for her wedding, so I have been thinking about my friendships over the last decade, and who has stayed in my life throughout that time.

This whole cancer thing has been an eye-opener as to who are my friends and who are people that have fallen into the outer circle, getting closer to the "we used to be friends when we were young" status, and the people that have moved from the "we used to be friends when we were young" to "I know I can count on this person in my present life." This changes happen of course as people move and go onto different chapters in their life. Cancer has just made it more obvious who is who.

I have had a lot of surges of wonderful email correspondences that had been tepid a year ago. People that I have not heard from for years have contacted me and been willing to share their lives with me. It has been wonderful. And I have had visits from people. I mean, if a cancer diagnosis doesn't make your friends want to see you just in case, than nothing will.

This isn't into guilt tripping people into coming to visit me. I am incredibly busy now, about to move, summer is over and people have less time anyway. Luis is working like a madman, and we barely have enough time and energy to socialize with our friends here. I just think it was interesting to see who actually thinks you are worth their precious weekend and a $350 ticket, when you can't offer much else other than your company.

It does sound like a guilt trip, doesn't it? He he he. I don't mean it to be, I think it is just an eye opener. It actually tells me where I am in people's priority list, and most importantly, WHERE THEY SHOULD BE IN MINE.

There is something that I think is the end of all relationships (amorous ones, I mean), and it is called the Gap (not the store). If you love someone more than they love you, or vice versa, there is a Gap, and the relationship is doomed. That difference in love causes a fissure that can cause chaos years down the line although it seems unimportant in present day. It makes people blind to obvious problems that were the relationship regarded equality would never have been allowed to progress.

Friendships aren't affected by that gap as much as relationships. If I like hanging out with you more than you like hanging out with me, our friendship isn't doomed. Might have some misunderstandings or uncomfortable moments coming our way, but it isn't that we can't be friends. But when I tick off my closest friends list, or people that I knew I could call with any problem, just needed to vent or needed a helping hand, this past year has definitely shown me who those people are and who they aren't. And shown me with whom I have a Gap. Informative for me.

So, in my experience, if there is someone that you haven't seen or haven't called, and they are someone you care about or would like to keep in your life, even finding out that they have Stage IV cancer isn't very likely to make you change your behavior. How much effort you will put into that relationship will have to come from within you, not a change in circumstance.

Food for thought. Anyone you think you ought to get in touch with?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

my new hale!

So big huge major news: Luis and I bought a house! I can't tell anyone about it here because we don't want to announce it until after he gets tenure because we don't want to be perceived as cocky by buying a house before his tenure is decided. But since none of the professor folk read my blog (at least I don't think they do), I thought I would say something here because I am just overjoyed!

We will be able to move in at the end of the month! The house is about a 20 minute drive, or 9 miles from SMU. It is the style we want, the price we want (well, a little higher, but oh well), and the yard I want. It is big enough for family to stay, for us to have our own offices/work spaces. It is just lovely!

Healthwise I am doing okay. My feet are really bloated from the chemo. They are okay when I wake up in the morning, but by midday if you look at me from my ankles down you would think I way 250 lbs. My skin on my feet is all dry from being so stretched out. The fluid isn't just in my feet, but in my legs too, so they feel like water balloons when I try to kneel or stretch. It simply isn't very comfortable.

We had lowered my chemo dose by 5% last time, but my swelling didn't get any better. In fact, it got worse. Sigh.

I talked to Kenji, a boy from my class who also got cancer and doesn't have it anymore, yesterday. He just returned from Swaziland from a stint with Doctors without Borders. It is really nice to speak to someone my age who has had cancer, because I can say something like, " . . . in case I die," without getting the typical reaction from non-cancer people, which is, "Oh don't say things like that," or "Well you won't, you are going to beat this thing."

When I say things like, "In case I die," it is never to get reassurance that I won't. Usually it isn't the main point of my conversation at all, but it always ends up being the focus. When I speak with someone who has had cancer, and I say, "blah blah blah, in case I die," they just nod, and understand where I am coming from.

I am keeping myself very entertained. I just watched the movie, "A Guide to Recognizing your Saints." Really good. It has that kid from Transformers (a movie series that I hate), and he is great! He should stick to those kind of movies, not stupid crap for 10 year old boys. It was darker than I wanted (remember, I am trying to keep my aura light and happy and positive), but very very good.

I have three books in my life right now.

One I read during the day, Hitching Rides with Buddha (a travel memoir), which is wonderful and funny and anyone at all who has visited Japan will really understand and love it. The second book that I am reading a night is the third book in the Diana Gabaldon Outlander Series, Voyager (Romance, fantasy). And the book I am listening to is A Most Wanted Man (Terrorism thriller).

I am going to go buy some comp books from CVS and start taking notes. I bought a BIG ASS college level biology text book from Half Price Books, and I want to start reading through it. Anything to get a better handle on what the heck happened inside my body!