Sunday, January 31, 2010

A little nervous

Well, I'm a little nervous today.  The incision site is swelling.  Dr. Morrissey told me to call him if that happened, but, only his answering machine is on.  I can't get a hold of his service to have him paged.

Whatever happens, surgery is NOT an option right now.  It'll hold up my chemo, & we'd already put it off close to the safety cut off point.  That was because we were trying to qualify me for an experimental drug.  Of course, the family is all nervous.  I wish I'd kept this to myself until after I'd spoken to Dr. Morrissey.  Boogers.

On the bright side, maybe a new boob is springing up!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

And, to be fair . . . .

Here it is, folks, before it falls out completely.  Remember, Elyse & I just hacked at it in the bathroom.  I figured, who cares?

Whoopsie Daisy!

Sorry, folks, I forgot to add Dr. Seisholtz' picture!!  Here he is - the evil oncologist.  Nah, just kidding, he's a nice guy.  As far as you know.
Hi, Dr. Seisholtz!  Please don't kill me.

I HATE Neulasta!

This week has been really rough.  As I wrote before, I had two really bad days after the Neulasta shot.  Then, I had two ok days.  That’s the last of the ok days I’ve had since.

I woke up with my back & thighs killing me.  I could barely get out of bed or walk.  This has gone on pretty continuously, & occasionally, a new bone would add its two cents to the mix.  In the middle of all this, I had to go to get another dose of venofer & see Dr. Morrissey.  As Roseanne Rosannadanna would have said, “I thought I was gonna die”.
Thankfully, I was able to go to the appointments & smile.  My Aubrie was with me, & I don’t like my kids to see me in pain.  Yes, I know that they know, but I figure if I can pretend as much as humanly possible, they won’t realize how bad it is.

Sidebar:  Dr. Morrissey took my last drain tube out.  I didn’t realize how long I’ve been living with one until I looked at the calendar.  Since surgery on November 23rd, I’ve had a drain tube in.  Wait, it was out for about 6 days, but that was when I had that God awful infection.  So, even though it was out for that brief period of time, I wasn’t conscious enough to appreciate it.  So, there’s always a bright side somewhere.

Ooh, wait, though, Dr. Morrissey actually said, “keep an eye on things.  If stuff even begins to swell, call me.”  Now, you gotta give the man a pass here & there ‘cause he’s cute, but I had to really, really, really bite my tongue.  Inside my head was screaming, “Ya think????”  Now that I think about it, I can’t say for certain that the comment actually stayed inside my head.  There’s a good chance that I actually said it out loud.  Huh – how about that?  Oh, well.  I don’t have to see him again for two weeks now, which is good.  I’m getting really tired of running from one doctor appointment to the next.

ANYWAYS, this week has sucked big time.  Thankfully, a cancer survivor, Maureen, took pity on me & is corresponding with me.  She told me to get as many heating pads as humanly possible.  Of course, I’ve done that.  I kind of look like the Michelin Tire Man walking around, with a big ol’ heating pad strapped to my back & another one on my thighs.  Or another visual could be the Pillsbury Dough Boy from “Ghost Busters”.  Either which way, I’m surrounded by heating pads, homeopathic heat wraps (which stink to high Heaven), & anything else I can grab that gives off heat.  Even poor Bubba (our large black lab) has been part of my little freak show of heating elements.  But I don’t care how I look.  Well, not right now, that is.  I’m sure soon enough, I’ll go back to Fernando’s mantra, “It’s always better to look good than it is to feel good darling”.  Frankly, I can’t wait until I feel good.

Oh, well, on the bright side, Dr. Seisholtz says that the bone pain means that the Neulasta is doing its job.  If you asked ME, a little TOO well - ugh!

Round Two of Chemo starts this Tuesday.  Of course, followed up by another Neulasta shot Wednesday.  Shoot me now, shoot me now!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lucy vs. Chemo - Round One

Why do I feel like there should be the Rocky theme song playing as you read this?  Oh, I know.  Because that would be dumb & look how well it turned out the last time I put music on the blog!

Matt took me to Dr. Seisholtz’ on Tuesday for my first round of chemo.  It took over an hour to see him (see, Doctor, I TOLD you I was telling).  We finally did, & he was his usual charming self, which almost made up for being so late – almost.  Of course, I was nervous, but again, those nurses!  I swear, you must have to take some type of oath that says you’re a very kind & caring individual to work with cancer patients.  I haven’t run into one yet that’s made me want to slap her.  Just saying.

They finally hooked me up by my port, & man, was that uncomfortable.  The needle seemed to go in further than for the venofer (iron infusions) treatments that I’d undergone.  I was squirming like a fish on a hook.  Apparently, enough that Dr. Seisholtz noticed, & ordered something called, “Ativan” to be put into the IV.

Now, here’s the funny part.  Remember I’d said earlier in this that I’ve had more surgeries than your average 10 folks put together?  I’ve always let current doctors know that, & that due to that fact, I have a very high tolerance for pain meds & such.  Dr. Quiros (hi, Doctor!) told me that during my mastectomy, the anesthesiologist had a hard time keeping me asleep.  So, I know what I’m talking about here folks.

The nurse told me that this medicine was going to make me very sleepy & I should just relax & take a nap, which made me giggle.  I let her in on the big secret – if it can fell an elephant, than, yes, I’ll be looking at the insides of my eyelids.  Of course, she was thinking I was joking . . . . .   so, for the next 3 hours, I sat knitting, answering emails, & listening to music.  The drug did manage to relax me, but sleep?  My body taunted the drug, then came back around & taunted it for a second time.  Silly drug – my body mocks you & the IV line you rode in on.

I should backtrack at this point, however.  Before chemo was administered, they drew blood, to check my blood cell counts & my hemoglobin (Hgb) levels (they can actually do this there at the office – freaky scary technology).  Remember, the normal Hgb count for a woman is 13.5 to 14.5 g/dl.  I was at a whopping 6, which was why I had the two venofer infusions.  They “spun my blood” & were astonished to see that I’d only advanced to 7 g/dl.  I’m telling you, I’m part Borg!  The Borg side wants nothing to do with human blood cells.

They decided to add another does of venofer during chemo, which added 45 minutes to the therapy session.  But, it wasn’t bad, since I had things to keep me occupied – mainly my music.  Dakota has “lent” me his ear buds, so I can blast my music without setting off any decibel monitors.  I put the word lent in quotation marks since he hasn’t gotten them back just yet.  I guess I need to replace them, since I LOVE them!  My ears are usually ringing when I’m done, but, I was a rock singer for years.  If I didn’t damage them during those years of traipsing around with a band, I think I’m good.  Here's proof of my misspent youth:

Or, it could be the whole Borg thing again – don’t know, don’t care.

Side bar:  Speaking of ear buds & how loud I blast my music . . . . .  You know what?  I’ll put that at the end of this. 

Finally, the infusion fest was over & it was time to go home.  I know this is going to sound silly, but do you know what it feels like to be a science experiment or a dough ball trying to rise?  I do.  My entire family watched me like a hawk the rest of the day & pretty much, since.  If I sneeze, two to three people come running.  “Mommy, are you ok?”   “Yes, baby, mommy’s fine”.  And if I cough?  Holy Cow!  You’d think I was wheezing for my last breath.  Coughing had the tendency to bring any & all family members within a 5 mile radius, faster than the speed of light.  Throw in Michele, & you’ve got a full house.  Family, sometimes a cough is just a cough.

The day following chemo, patients are now given a shot which is used to counteract the awful side affects from chemo.  It’s called Neulasta, & it raises your white blood cell count.  This should protect you against infections, & keep you as safe as possible from the poison they just pumped into you.  However, it makes your body work extra hard to produce said blood cells.  This makes you sick; very, very sick.

Dr. Seisholtz warned that it would be rough & that I’d feel as if I had the worst flu in the world.  My joints would be sore, I’d feel like a truck hit me, & even my hair follicles would ache.  Of course, I’m invincible, & I’d willed myself to not have even one of those symptoms.  Plus, the chemo didn’t bother me, so I seriously doubted that it would bother me even a little bit.  . . . . . I remembered my arrogance the following day as I lay in bed, moaning.

Now, folks, I’m an upbeat person; or at least, I try to be.  But I can also be a huge, whimpering baby when I’m not feeling well.  I whined like a toddler whose pacifier had been taken away from them – seriously.  Honestly, you’d have thought that I was on a rack being tortured somewhere.  That shot made me feel like the flu was a sissy’s virus & I pride myself on not being a sissy.

So, Thursday & Friday were spent in bed, wishing there was a happy little Neulasta fairy somewhere, poised to sprinkle feel better fairy dust over me.  Sadly, there is no such fairy.  That’s probably better, though.  Seeing how lousy I felt, if some pretty little sprite had come into the room, waving a teeny little wand, making pretty little noises with her teeny little bells & grinning from her teeny little ear to her other teeny little ear, I probably would have shot her.

Today, I’m feeling better.  Not 100% percent, but better.  I’m hoping that my mood will be on an even keel, & that set backs will be few & far between.  At least I hope I can keep my murderous urges to shoot innocent imaginary pixies at bay.  Wish me luck.

Speaking of listening to my music a bit too loud. . . . .

I was trying to be considerate of others in the chemo ward.  So, I asked Matt if people could hear; while I had the music blaring in my ears.  I discerned that he said no, but apparently, the whole room & the hospital down the road heard my query.  Thinking he was being obnoxious, I called him a name.  Not his name, a bad name.  Well, not the worst name I could use, but, still.  OK, OK, I called him a “dick”.  He promptly pulled one of the ear buds out, & whispered, “Everyone heard that, too”.

Kids, learn a lesson from your Aunt Lucy.  Never say bad words.  Never say bad words when you have music blaring in your ears.  Never say bad words when others are around.  And ESPECIALLY never say bad words in a room full of elderly folks, who are already quite annoyed at having to deal with chemo (& as such, are exceptionally ill tempered), who’ve been giving the stink eye since before your mother was born, perfected it to an art form, & thus have the ability to make you feel as if you just stood up & as loud as humanly possible, called upon Satan in middle of St. Peter’s Basilica while the Pope was saying High Mass.   OK?  Lesson learned.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to turn the sound down

I turned the music off completely. Figured that it can give folks a headache!

Tomorrow, Matt & I will head up for what is more than likely my first round of chemo. I say more than likely because Matt has some questions for Dr. Seisholtz. He wants to be sure that there's no way I can qualify for the experimental drug. I don't think so, but, we want to be sure. Whatever is out there that can increase my chances of long term survival, we want to know about. And, if it's just a matter of waiting another week, then so be it.

This weekend, I'll be shaving my head. They say that most folks don't usually begin to lose their hair for about a week or two after the first treatment. But, might as well get used to it! Plus, I'm a little excited about wearing wigs. It takes forever to do my hair right now. AND, imagine how much time I'm going to save in the shower!

OK, I'll let you know how tomorrow goes. Wish me luck!

Breast Cancer - I know my enemy

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Many Kells Girls Does It Take to Put Gas in a Jeep?

You’ll find the answer to this question at the end of this update.  I figure that some of you (family & friends) are reading this to find out what’s going on with my illness.  Others are reading this to laugh their collective hineys off.  And then, there’re those of you who’re reading this for both reasons.  As with many of my exploits, this one involves my daughter, Elyse – the Ethel to my Lucy.

Wednesday wasn’t as bad as I’d envisioned.  I went to the oncologist to get the infusion, & or course, used my chemo port for the first time.  I was SO nervous!  Fortunately for me, I had the BEST nurse, Nancy.  She talked to me & then she told me that she was going to “hook me up”.  Like Dr. Morrissey, she had me take deep breaths, & then when I exhaled, she stuck me.  But it didn’t hurt!  It felt weird, though, but I just can’t explain it.  You can clearly see the outlines of the port, as it protrudes about an inch from under my skin.  It’s an odd feeling to walk around with that thing, & even weirder to be hooked up to an IV with it. 

The next day, Thursday, I went again.  This time, Elyse took me & I wasn’t so nervous since I knew what to expect.  She stayed with me & we had a nice time.  We talked, I was knitting her a new funky scarf, & she was trying to take a math final.  While there, Elyse took these pictures:

And now here’s a BIG bummer!  The experimental drug that I’d signed up to take doesn’t want me – sob.  Apparently, the infection that tore through me (& ended up with me having to have an additional surgery) knocked me out of the running.  Pat went to the head muckey mucks not once, but twice; to no avail.  She left it to me to wait another week or so, while the appeal was being taken to another level.  She didn’t recommend it, though, & I knew for a fact that Matt would have a MAJOR fit if we held off on chemo for yet another week.  I’d feel better getting this show on the road as well.  The cancer is very aggressive, so I want to be kicking its butt with the chemo ASAP.

You want to know a really weird thing?  These infusions are supposed to boost my red blood cell count, thus making me less tired.  As usual, though, it’s done the EXACT OPPOSITE!  I’ve slept just about nonstop since Thursday.  In fact, Michele & I had our first conversation that lasted any length of time last night.  This is unusual when you know that the two of us spend at least an hour on the phone at one time & most times twice a day for a total of two hours.  One day, we were on the phone for about 15 minutes, but she had to go.  When Matt walked through the kitchen, noted the time, he pretended to have a heart attack.  Men seem to have this shared trait – they think they’re funny.  Apparently, Michele’s Alex does the same thing. 

This Tuesday, I begin chemo.  I’m nervous about it, but at the same time, I’ve got my Ninja costume that I must don.  Kung Foo Lucy!  Of course, I’ll let you know how I react.  However, since my body never responds in the correct manner, I’ll probably have tons of energy.  I’ll be writing about every little thing that happens to me – you lucky minions, you!

OK, now to my Lucy & Ethel adventure.


It was the morning we were to report for my first infusion, & Elyse was driving me in the Jeep.  We knew we needed gas, but we figured we could wait until after my appointment.  However, when on an incline, it looked as if we were going to run out before we even got out of town.  We made the decision to get gas – something we should have known would end in disaster.

You see, even though Kells girls are very self sufficient, we are also spoiled by the Kells men.  I can’t remember the last time I put gas in my car.  Truth be told, I don’t know what half the stuff in my car does (see “I’m Too Stupid for my Car”).  I just figured that since the girls got their licenses, Matt taught them how to pump their own.  Instead, their brother, Dakota, has been doing it for them all this time.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that between the two of us, I was the one with the most gas pumping experience – from 25 years ago before I married Matt.

Elyse pulled into the gas station, and then quickly realized that she had no idea which side of the car the gas tank was on.  Looking out the door, we saw that it was on the driver’s side.  Now, Elyse is very good at driving, however, after trying to figure out which side of the car we needed to pull up to, was a bit distracted.  She narrowly missed hitting the tanks.  Backing up, she managed to get it in place; but it was a very, very tight fit.

She got out, & I handed her the gas card.  I was sitting in the warmth of the Jeep, when I noticed that she was standing there staring at the pump with my card in her hand.   I knew help was necessary – MY help, though, not so much.  I’m the mom, darn it, so it was up to me.  Together we stood there & read the instructions on using the credit card.  She finally ventured putting it in, & we were happy to see that instructions began to scroll across the screen.  Elyse got the nozzle out, & we turned to open the little gas door.  She pulled, nothing happened.  I pulled, nothing happened.  Back & forth, dumb & dumber stood there pulling at the little door.  THEN, Elyse remembered – there’s a lever in the car that we needed to push that would automatically open the stubborn tank door.  She made quick work of unscrewing the doohickey, & put the nozzle in.  Sadly, no gas was coming out.  She squeezed, I squeezed, she squeezed again, & so did I.  I looked at her & asked if we didn’t just do this dance.  We stood there with our mouths agape, staring at the nozzle.

Finally, a Good Samaritan, who’d apparently been quite amused watching this little display, came over.  Here, we’d forgotten to turn the little lever thing down on the gas pump.  He smiled, showed us what we were doing wrong, and then thought better of it.  He pumped it for us, showed us how to get the card out of the machine & sent us on our way.  We couldn’t help but notice as we looked in the rear view mirrors that both he & several other patrons at the gas station were laughing their butts off.

We didn’t care, though!  We had gas in the Jeep, & we were on our way.  Late; but on our way.  And if we ever need to put gas in the Jeep again, we know just what to do.  Ask for help & forget about trying to do it ourselves.  Saves time.

Hey, we may be dumb, but we learn fast.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I need more iron!

I went to the oncologist Friday for two reasons.  First, to meet with Pat Parsons to discuss the new drug that they’d like to add to the arsenal o’ poison that will make up my chemo cocktail.  Pat was very, very thorough as she explained all the pros & cons of participating in this trial.  All in all, the pros outweighed the cons.  This drug is already given (with good results) under different circumstances.  Basically, it blocks the blood supply to tumors growing in different areas of my body, thus cutting off their life line & killing them.  We have no evidence that my cancer has metastasized, but this will be a bit of insurance that if it has, it gets stopped in its tracks.  Kind of like Raid – kills cancer dead.

The other reason I went was to get an iron infusion to help get my hemoglobin counts up prior to chemo.  Nothing like being a few quarts low.  But, & here’s where my previous post is going to make you smile, my stupid insurance wasn’t going to cover it!  Apparently, they wanted me to have the infusion at the hospital, 300 yards down the road.  Yup, it was a matter of geography.  So, the insurance ladies at the oncologist’s office are arguing with them.  However, I still stand by my claim that I’d rather have my own private insurance company in lieu of a government run program! 

Now, here’s the funny thing.  I’ve been operated on 3 times in one month & have had my blood drawn & tested at least 10 times in the same time period.  Why is it a mystery to the doctors that I have a low blood cell count?  I’d have more blood in me if I was Dracula’s human mistress!

I’m beginning to think that if one other person sticks a blood pressure cuff on me, puts a thermometer in my ear, looks in my mouth, pokes around my neck, attaches probes to all my appendages, digs into my tummy, inspects my boob, looks under my now hairy armpit, has me pee in a cup,  makes me take off the “hider” bandage over my incision to inspect my lovely scar, weighs me (which now is just a complete insult since I won’t be losing weight during chemo), inserts an IV, has me fill out a 3-5 page form, drink gallons of thick, disgusting liquid, asks me to stand in front of some sort of imaging machine or lie down while I’m being inserted into some sort of nuclear tunnel (while they run behind a protective barrier), or DRAWS MORE BLOOD, I’m going to turn into a raging lunatic.  Well, more of a raging lunatic than is normal for me.  The funny thing is, I actually get told, “be sure to get some rest”.   Aaaaagggghhhh!

But, on the bright side, this will be over in about a year.  Hopefully, I'll have nice big hooters to show for all of this.  And maybe I'll find that like Dolly Parton, I like wigs.  It takes a lot of money to look this cheap!

Up next, we got the ok for the iron infusion; I’ll go tomorrow after I see Dr. Morrissey.  I’ll keep you posted!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sorry, folks, just had to!

In my oncologist's office, there was a notice to cancer patients, like myself.  It basically warned us that if Obamacare passes, the quality of our care will be GREATLY reduced.  Since this isn't a political blog, I won't go on.  However, if you're interested, Ray Stevens just put this video out.  If you agree, pass it on; preferably to your Congressman!

We the People - by Ray Stevens

My insurance may be a pain in the rear, but I'd rather have them than a plan run by the government who've managed to run Medicare, Social Security, the Post Office, etc. into bankruptcy.  OK, I'm done.  Sorry for the political rant!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cause I’m not Blonde – Yeah, yeah, yeah!

FINALLY, yesterday was a day with no doctors!  I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, until I remembered that I’ve been promising to tell you about the blonde wig incident & that I found another place to buy eyebrows.  So, here goes.

I purchased two blonde wigs from Beauty Trends – one straight & one curly.  They came in & the entire family was anxious to see what they looked like on.  My hands were shaking & I could barely contain myself; I was SO excited!  A blonde, a blonde, I could finally be a blonde (yeah, yeah, yeah)!

With trembling hands, giddy from the excitement, I tried the short, curly one on first.  I opened the door to 4 anxious people, who immediately began laughing.  Apparently, I looked like Estelle Getty from the Golden Girls.

Dakota volunteered to go get my walker - very funny, Boy.  I wanted to find something positive about the way I looked, but sadly, I had to agree with the family.  That particular shade of blonde, combined with short curls, really did make me look like I was a senior citizen.  It must have had a psychological effect as well – it was 4:30 & I felt like running to get an early bird dinner.  Back into the box it went.

It was on to the second wig, which was straight.  Here’s kind of what I looked like:

This isn’t an actual picture of me in the wig.  It’s a virtual makeover on iVillage.  I added the heavy eye makeup, just because I thought it would be funnier.  Still, you get the idea.

When I came out of the bathroom this time, the family fell on the floor in stitches.  Elyse ran to the living room, came back & handed me her guitar.  They all agreed that if I had a big ol’ pair of double “F” size hooters & was born in Pigeon Hollow, I could write my ticket in the country music world.  I was not amused.  I had to bite my tongue (hard) not to remind them that my entire family does, in fact, hail from a little Podunk town in Kentucky.  As for the double “F” size honkers, well, we’ll see about that, as that can be arranged.

Long story short, I’m just not cut out to be a blonde.  And, as I’ve said before, I’m not going to go red, since its sacrilege to be another red headed Lucy!  Now, that doesn’t mean that at every conceivable opportunity I have, I’ll try a blonde wig on.  I’ll be bald – it’ll be easy.

So far, I have eyebrows, eyelashes, three wigs & a fourth one is on its way.  I’m like a boy scout – I like to be prepared.  OK, no I’m not; I’m like (am, a little, whatever – no need to get all technical) a shopaholic.  I found something that Matt can’t holler at me for buying.  I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate sparkly things into the mix.  Give me time . . . . . .  

In the meantime, I’ll be satisfied with a perk of cancer that I still have.  I’m going to be bald, & all I have to do in the morning is slap a wig on top of my head.  Ladies, you know that you’ve had a ton of days that you wish life could be that simple.  So, there’s that!

And now for something that generally has value & is of actual interest to other cancer patients!

In a post on November 13th, I told you about Best Wig Outlet (hence, the story about the blonde wigs).  Between them, Beauty Trends & Paula Young, wigs are very inexpensive.  I shared with you that I purchased two half human hair, half synthetic wigs for less than $75.00 each.  For the whole story, scroll back through my older posts, or go to “Eyebrows & Lashes & Wigs – Oh My!”  I THINK that will take you right to the post.

I’d mentioned that you could purchase the eyebrows at a place called “Head Coverings”, & that they were $34.95.  However, I’ve since found out (or they just started carrying them) that Beauty Trends is carrying them for $24.95.  And, if you order soon, there’s a 15% off coupon on orders of $29.00 or more, using coupon “Dec 29”.  I know that the eyebrows alone won’t equal the minimum, but you may find a nice wig you like.  And if you’re like me, you can never have too many.

I’ve got more to tell you about.  I was at the doctor’s office – AGAIN – this afternoon.  I’ll write more tomorrow.  In the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your help.  Thank you for all your support, kind wishes & especially those terrific dinners!  I’ll get through this – I promise.  And if you’ve been diagnosed with any type of cancer, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  My email is  You’re going to be fine, too.  We women are a tough breed. 

Tell you more about what’s going on tomorrow!

PS  Reference about being Blonde, (yeah, yeah, yeah) is a from a Julie Brown video from Earth Girls are Easy.  Here’s the link if you’re interested:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Y’all know how happy I was about not seeing another doctor, nurse or hospital for over a week?  Well, that got shot all to pieces.  On Tuesday, I got a phone call from Pat Parsons at Dr. Seisholtz’ office (he’s my oncologist).  There’s a new trial drug that they’d like to add to my regular chemo cocktail, & would I be interested?  I don’t know for sure all the particulars, but she invited me to come to her office this Friday so she could explain it all.  I figured that if it’ll help, then why not?  So, I said okey doke.  THEN, she says, “but we need you to come to the hospital & have an EKG & some more blood tests”.  Really?

At this point, I’m thinking I’m already several quarts low in the blood department, & didn’t I just get an EKG a little over a month ago?  Well, apparently, an EKG has a small shelf life, & I needed to have another one.  As for the blood, nobody had tested for whatever it is they need to test this time around.  Was there anyway I could go ahead & get this done ASAP? Pat asked.

How can I accurately explain how disappointed I was?  Let me see, let me see, . . . . .  oh, wait, I know!  It’s kind of like when you expect to spend the morning at a spa with your best friends, being massaged & having manicures & pedicures.  Then, you’re supposed to go out to lunch at your favourite Mexican restaurant, drink some margaritas & go shopping until your credit cards begin to smoke from overuse.

But what actually turns out happening is you get a phone call telling you that your cousin, Booger, shot his good eye out in a hunting accident.  His huntin’ dog, Cooter, is still trolling the fields for it, but in the meantime, you need to get your butt to Kentucky to help his kids Deniece, Denephew, & Skunk get ready for the annual possum cookin’ festival that Booger’s won three years in a row.  Of course, any good redneck knows that the secret to good possum eats is catching them a month in advance (where you get them makes no never mind; they just need to be alive when you get em), cage em, & feed them nothing but corn bread & buttermilk the entire month.  That’ll fix ‘em up, fatten’ em out, & get rid of all them no-good flavors.  This makes possum as good as corn fed pig & you got yourself a possum ready for cookin.  Hey, Booger’s been “Champeeyon Possum Cooker” in Bugtussle County goin’ on three years in a row; he should know what he’s talking about.

So, yeah, that kind of describes my disappointment.

I called central scheduling, & today Aubrie & I trekked up to Grandview Outpatient to have the testing done.  Now, I have to admit this part, since it wouldn’t be fair otherwise.  We got there, had the testing done & were back in Aubrie’s Jeep in less than 25 minutes.  Not too shabby there, Grandview!

THEN, I got home, & there was a message on the answering machine.  Apparently, when you tell the folks at Grandview that you need the results of a blood test ASAP, they take that to mean NOW, BITCH!  The nurse from Dr. Seisholtz’ office was calling to let me know that I’m seriously anemic & iron deficient, & was I feeling all right?  According to them, I really shouldn’t be up & around with such a low count, since normal levels for women are between 12 – 16 grams per deciliter & I’m at 6.2.  But of course – it’s me.  The person whose body ate a tissue expander.  I’d expect nothing less.

Here’s the bottom line – I have to meet with one of the oncologists on Friday before I meet with Pat.  They need to infuse me with iron (or vitamins, minerals, Cocoa Krispies, or whatever the heck else it is I’m low on at this point), and then we have to discuss when I can begin chemo.

So, my fabulous week of no doctors, no nurses, no tests & no needles is but a fond dream.  And, if I’m being honest, I had myself a bit of a break down/pity party this afternoon.  I cried; but mostly out of frustration.  I know that this is all going to end up all right, & that in a year, this will all be a memory.  Hopefully, my family will still be speaking to me.  And in the doctors’ defense, nobody said this was going to be easy. 

On the bright side, though, at least I qualify for a new drug that may extend my life for about another 100 years.  Well, they didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I heard.  And sometimes, it’s just better to hear what you want to.

HOPEFULLY, I’ll be able to write to you about eyebrows & my blonde wig experiment tomorrow.  So far, I don’t have anything planned.  Plus, I’ve turned my phone off.  Seriously, what could happen in one day?  Wait, don't answer that.  I'm sure I'll find out on my own.

Note:  Yes, my entire family is from Owensboro, Kentucky.  However, the Hillbilly reference is just a joke.  As far as you know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

No doctors for a week!!!

I’m sorry!  I’ve been meaning to say Thank You to all of you who’ve taken the time to sign my guest book, leave a comment, or send me a private email.  I know it sounds sappy, but they’ve meant the world to me. 

I went to see Dr. Morrissey yesterday, & he says that everything looks good.  I guess, if you don’t mind a big ol’ crater where teen boob used to be – sigh.  I think most women could handle being flat chested, but, concave?  Not so much.  Oh, well, it’s only temporary.

On the bright side, I don’t have to go to another doctor for over a WEEK!  I’m thrilled.  I go back to see Dr. Morrissey on Wednesday the 13th.  He has to “sign off”, meaning that I’m well enough to begin chemo.  Then, I start that the following day, the 14th & it should be interesting.  I mean, I’ve heard all kinds of things about it. 

Of course, there’re the horror stories about how sick I’m going to get, & all this other stuff.  However, both Dr. Nakajima & Dr. Seisholtz say that it’s different now.  They have medications that reduce the nausea & bring up the blood count.  In fact, Dr. Seisholtz said that he doesn’t want me losing weight, & that I shouldn’t because it’s no longer necessary!  Um, what?

OK, folks, there are very few perks to having cancer.  The first one that I missed out on was the tummy tuck.  Remember?  They were going to harvest fat from my abdomen to use to reconstruct my new boob, & then you’d get a tummy tuck afterward.  But, noooooo, I didn’t qualify for that because of all the surgeries I’ve had for endometriosis.  Bummer!  Then, I was thinking that with chemo, I’m going to lose weight.  And yet another big NOOOOO!  So now I’ve missed out on the two big bonuses to having breast cancer.

But on the bright side, it’s really a good thing that I won’t be so nauseous that I’ll end up losing weight.  Who really wants to be queasy when so many wonderful women have been bringing over such amazing food?  I’m serious here, folks, you wouldn’t believe the food that’s been coming to my house.  I’m hoping that after all this is over, the ladies will volunteer their recipes & I can share them here.  Hint, hint kind ladies!

And as for the fat to make New Boob, attempt #2?  Lord knows that I have enough to make some mondo boobies.  But there’s also a possibility (remote, but then again, it’s me) that my body may re-absorb the fat.  At least this way, I can go as big as I want.  So there’s that.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Man, I'm getting tired of hospitals!

Before I forget, I wanted to post pictures of the girls from Dr. Morrissey’s office!  Here they are:

Aren’t they beautiful??  And bonus, they’re very sweet & helpful.  You never feel like a number around them.

Dr. Morrissey released me from my third hospital stay in a month on Wednesday afternoon, & I couldn’t have been happier.  I know, I have to careful, as I really, really, really, really don’t want to have to go back.  Not for at least a year, when it’ll be to go for round two of booby reconstruction.  And trust me, if this new boob thinks it’s got a shot at taking me out, it’s got another thing coming!

I’m home with strict rules to take my antibiotics, & keep my drain tube cleaned & emptied.  I’ve named it Timmy Tubey, basically because I have neither imagination nor general interest in obtaining one.    After what happened when the last tube was removed, I will love it, & pet it, & hold it & take care of it.  But I digress; here’s what happened whilst I was a visitor at St. Luke’s.

After surgery, I had expected to awake, ready to go home.  It wasn’t until they let Matt into the recovery room (to be the bearer of the news that I’ve shared with you in my last post) that I knew the truth.  I no longer had a tissue expander, & I was being admitted to the hospital that night.  I don’t know why, but I kind of knew that an in & out surgery would be too easy for me.  Dr. Morrissey said that they have no clue what caused the massive infection that tore through my body & took out the poor unsuspecting tissue expander.  It’s just one of those things & they wanted to begin IV antibiotics.  This, of course, meant a night or two at Chez St. Luke’s.

The thing is, though; there must have been a run on rooms & surgeries that day.  They were trying to get me back into my private little suite in the cancer ward, but, there were none to be had.  There was no room at the Cancer Inn in Bethlehem almost a week after Christmas - sigh.  They looked all over the hospital for a bed, but only one was open on their “C” ward.  I thought it might have been another cancer unit, but I was incorrect.  It’s what’s called their “catch all” ward, which is exactly what it sounds like.  People were shuttled to this little clearing house of maladies & diseases like cattle through a chute.

Brian (the transport guy from the recovery room; by now, we’ve gotten to know each other) was getting me ready to leave recovery & on to the C floor.  As we were chatting, a girl was wheeled in screaming as loud as humanly possible.  I mean, she was angry & screaming & calling people names.  They hurried her into a little area of recovery & immediately closed the curtains around her.  Because as we all know, curtains block out everything – including sound (wink).  I just knew that they had a big ol’ problem brewing on their hands, & Brian sighed.  He had to come back to it.  I promised him I’d keep him in my prayers.

He finally got me up to my room, & as he was leaving, instructed me to stop coming back.  I just laughed & told him that at least I wasn’t the one to go back down to the screaming crazy person – ha! 

Ya’ know, you’d think that by now, I would have an idea about how God’s mind works.

Two hours later, the screaming banshee of the recovery room was wheeled onto the floor I was on, same side of the hall, three doors down.  By now, she’d progressed to growling & all I could think of was Linda Blair.  My nurse (man, I wish I could remember her name – she was ADORABLE) had somehow missed her blazing entrance to the floor, so I informed her.  I didn’t want her to find out this person was her patient.

About two hours later, she came back to my room pale as a ghost.  I was so worried for her but thankfully, the banshee wasn’t her patient.  She’d just never seen such a sight in her life.  She also didn’t know what was going on, but didn’t want to get close enough to find out.

To this day, I’ll never know what happened to the banshee, what brought her to the hospital, or if she really was Linda Blair & a horrible, horrible priestly accident had occurred on cellblock C.  If I ever do, I’ll let you know.

As if to cement upon my psyche that I should never wish ill on anyone else (poor Brian), God had one more kernel of hospital goodness to bestow upon me – my roommate.

Don’t get me wrong; I had a lovely roommate, an older lady who was there for strange pain & was not allowed any food or drink.  I was taken to my bed, thankfully by the window, & I was settling in.  At the time, my roommate’s daughter, grand daughter & great grand daughter were visiting with her.  All day long.  Don’t get me wrong, they were perfectly nice people.  However, they weren’t the quietest people, & my room mate was hard of hearing; of course, her hearing aid was at home.

Visiting hours are over at 8:00 pm, & my roommate’s daughter did notice that fact & brought it up to Suzy Sunshine, the night nurse.  Suzy shared with them that even though visiting hours are “encouraged” to be over by 8:00 pm, they really don’t start asking folks to leave until 10:00 pm.

I really wanted to throttle Suzy Sunshine & explain to her that sharing an already small room & a bathroom with several people was a bit annoying, no matter how lovely the people were.  Top it off with dueling TV programs, & lots of spirited discussion about what was on said TV programs, & you don’t really get that peaceful, easy feeling that one would hope for when trying to HEAL!

Nurses, please don’t ever, ever do this.  No matter how nice people are, no matter how jovial & cordial, trust me on this.  The person in the bed next to them would like to shoot them in the head by 8:00 pm.  Subjecting us to another full two hour heaping helping of loud, nonstop talking is tantamount to torture.  Before you open your oh so helpful mouths & volunteer this information, take a sideways glance at their roommate.  You may be surprised to see all manner of human gestures directed at you; & you will not be able to mistake their meaning.

The shining hour of room sharing came the next morning when my breakfast tray was brought in.  My sweet roommate chose just that time to realize that she needed to have a bowel movement.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t mobile, & as such, required a bed pan.  As she was being prepared for having her morning constitution in the bed next to me, I decided to leave & give her some privacy.  I highly doubted I wanted to be eating Texas Toast & Sausage (yes, I truly, honestly had sausage) while someone was, well, you understand.   When I told her that, she sunnily replied, “You don’t have to; there’s a curtain for privacy”.  (What is UP with people & curtains??  Do they really think they have magical powers or is this just a hospital phenomenon?)  I don’t think she understood what I meant.  Unintentional timing, or passive aggressive behaviour since she couldn’t eat – you decide.

Later that morning, a break in the gloom arrived in the person of Michelle Silfies, breast nurse extraordinaire.  I’m not sure how, but she’d heard I was re-admitted to the hospital & paid me a visit.  Here she is:

She’d had the foresight to bring me another drain tube bag, which blew me away!  Everyone had assumed that after the last drain tube had been removed, I’d gleefully tossed them away.  Kind of like Isabeau in “Ladyhawke”, removing her talons & dropping them in the evil Duke’s lap.

And, yes, I did that to the first one in Dr. Morrissey’s office.  Tossed it in the trash, right there on the spot.  When I got home, however, I remembered that a sweet woman somewhere had taken the time to sew that bag for me.  I took the other one, folded it up & put it away.  Who knew I’d need it again?

Michelle was also surprised to find me on C block.  When I told her (as best I could with my buddy so close) about my evening, she vowed to try to get me back over to the cancer ward.  And you know what?  She did everything she could.  She called me later in the day to report that there still was no room to be had.  Still, it all turned out, since Dr. Morrissey released me late that afternoon.  The thing of it is, she really tried.  Man, I’m really beginning to think I’ve been surrounded by angels during this whole experience!

In the long run, I’m hoping against hope that I won’t see the inside of a hospital until the time comes to resurrect teen boob.  It should probably be in about 8 months.  I’ll be visiting Dr. Morrissey on Monday, I think, so I’ll have a better idea then.  In the meantime, I’m going to take my antibiotics, take care of (& not bitch about) my drain tube, & get myself stronger.  I have to re-schedule chemo this upcoming week, but that, too, will depend upon Dr. Morrissey.

The thing of it is, I’m not going to let this cancer beat me.  I know I’ve just begun & that there’s a long road ahead of me.  I’ve only glanced at the new surgery site.  Where there once was a little bump of a boob, a bit of a crater exists in its place.  It’s going to take me a bit of time to get used to that.  I know it’s not permanent, but it is a bit of a mind freak & has set me back a little.  I won’t let it consume me or bother me to the point that it’ll get me down for long, though.  There’re too many funny things in the world to poke fun of & plenty of opportunities for me to get into my Lucy situations.

And, thankfully in my case, a whole lot of earthly angels have been sent my way.  Somehow, I think I’ll be just fine.
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