Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bad Mood!

I just woke up and I am hurting! These past couple days have been rough. Not mentally, as many of you must be imagining. I don’t really grapple with the “OMG-I-have-cancer-I-might-die thing anymore.” Don’t get me wrong, it is always there in the back of my head, but it is something I have gotten used to, shut out. It is sort of like families living in some war torn area of the world. You know that every day you send your child off to school you might not see them again. You can never forget it, but you put it out of your mind, so you can be sane.

So what has been so difficult? Radiation! I had gone 4.5 weeks with nothing but a light burn, and BAM! This week it KICKED MY BUTT. My skin, a shade of angry crimson, started blistering and popping. Every time one blister pops and the air hits it, I have this searing pain that makes me want to smash my fist through a window. But rather than healing up and toughing up, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t know why! Chemo? Just the nature of radiation burns?

Here is what my skin looks like, but, this is obviously not me.

So skin all around my chest and under my arm (which is not reddish, but black brown, so nasty), just cracking and oozing blood. Radiation burns feel like you have little glass shards in your skin that you can’t get out. So of course, I haven’t had one moment to go get my Vicodin prescription filled until 3pm this afternoon (I think I need a secretary). I agreed to baby-sit my cousin, Roshad, this morning, which was a bad idea. You can’t properly pick up and take care of a baby when your chest is in so much pain.

After I dropped him off at his grandmother’s house, I went to Costco on a Saturday to get my pain medication, and anyone that knows me, knows that Costco Saturdays are my own private version of hell. I had to park a quarter of a mile away, everyone just kind of camped in the aisles with their families not moving, and I still can’t figure out how people don’t know how to use the self-checkouts. The lady in my lane would scan her item, and then ring the help button so the guy would come and push continue for her so she could scan the next item. I almost stepped up to do it for her, but then I just breathed deeply and went to my happy place.

I survived :) Got home, napped for two hours, and ate some shrimp and Israeli couscous (my husband is on a mission to keep me well fed). On my doorstep was an Argentinean Pinot Noir that my aunt Michele dropped off, and as soon as I am not so highly medicated, I plan to try it. And then my girlfriend Carla bought me a ticket to see Phantom of the Opera, which was her first love and mine too!

Ahh, vicodin is now kicking in . . . .lovely lovely lovely. The tension is draining from my shoulders. Going to watch Tuesday’s episode of Lost and hope that Sawyer takes his shirt off at some point J Happy Saturday everyone!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Big 10

10 more chemo sessions and 10 more radiation sessions. My radiated chest and armpit are starting to hurt. My skin burned, not red, not a nice honey brown, but this weird brownish-black color. I can't wear any type of bra, even the camisoles with the elastic bra shelf bother me. As if I needed an excuse not to wear a bra, it is one of the lovely things about having small boobs, or well, boob in my case.

I have been really focusing on exercising, and have actually brought myself up to a 6 mile run on Saturday! This is at a snail pace with tons of walk breaks, but it is actually wonderful. I ran outside on a path through Dallas that leads to White Rock Lake. The only frustrating this is that I have to run with a huge wad of Kleenex because tears POUR down my cheeks. I can soak through one kleenex and make it completely unusable in 20 minutes outside, so I went through 7 Kleenex, which is really annoying. Running in the gym, which isn't as pretty or as much fun, is actually a lot less frustrating because I don't look like a sobbing, emotional runner to everyone else on the path.

Something has happened recently, and I think it must be due to the radiation, but I have completely lost interest in food. I don't even feel like snacking. Not on anything healthy, not any junk food, just don't feel like eating at all. My attitude toward food is like in the movie, The Matrix. Those who got out of it could only eat this blah oatmeal stuff for sustenance.

To me, all food is that boring oatmeal stuff. If it weren't for my husband, I would not eat at all. He made the most yummy dish, polenta towers with tomato, eggplant, and shitake mushrooms, and it was only so so for me.

Until your appetite is gone for long periods, you have no idea what a wonderful feeling it is to be starving and then eat something delicious! I miss that.

Okay, enough griping!

Two more exams this week, stats and Chemistry. I have to remember the entire electron configuration for all elements, including the exceptions like copper and chromium. Betcha didn't even know those guys were exceptions, huh?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Creams and Bread


Haven't been blogging because I have been so dang busy!

I really wanted to take a microbiology course and an organic chemistry course so I could figure out what was going on in my body. Turns out you can't jump into those courses, there are several prerequisites, so I am taking Bio for science majors and General Chemistry, and LOVING IT! Now it has only been a couple weeks, so we are still in the "easy" phase. But I get to go to a lab and do experiments and play with chemicals. I haven't done that since I was 16!

It is a little strange to be in class with people who were born in the 90s and who brag to each other about doing the homework ahead of time, but community college is community college, and it is cheap and close to home.

I might take the courses that really interest me at SMU later, but if I have to choose between paying $400 a course or $150, I am not stupid.

I applied for a marketing position with the university that is part time, so cross your fingers and think good thoughts! If I got that it would be a DREAM come true. It is only two miles from home, exactly what I got my graduate degree in, and I think it would be a fun environment where I could bring a lot to the table!

Radiation has been a breeze so far. It is 15 minutes every day though, and it is getting boring. I have 33 treatments total, and I have completed 13. I haven't had a bad sunburn or anything yet, although sometimes right after it is a little sore to the touch. By the next morning it has disappeared. Here is what the setup looks like.

video

I am slathering cream on myself like crazy because I have heard horror stories directly from people whose skin is cracked and oozing and just ravaged from the radiation. I use calendula cream, which was recommended to me by another woman who had been through radiation, and Xclair. This cream is ridiculously expensive (the sample below costs $70) so my wonderful radiation nurse hooked me up with a thousand packets of it, so I slather it on like I am a millionaire! It is great, I even use what is left over on my face, and it feels like a baby's behind.

My nosebleeds have pretty much stopped, but tears are still STREAMING out of my eyes. Everyone in class pretty much stays away from me since I always have liquids, either blood or tears, pouring out of my face. It is a little freaky, I suppose.

My husband is baking bread and we are going to watch In the Loop until it comes out of the oven and then I will probably eat it all in one sitting. Hot Fresh Bread. Yum.