Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Big Head Blog

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve bemoaned the fact (probably ad nauseam) that the guestbook link at the very bottom of this page is all but indiscernible.  The font is teeny tiny.  I’ve looked up HTML coding (she says with a big grin), & have copied & pasted font size stuff.  For one reason or another, I get error codes.  Of course, I wrote the guestbook place, & they advised that I contact blogger. 

Surprisingly, I’d thought of that.  However, all I could seem to get were “helpful” links to articles that used big, brainiac words that left me jumping from website to website to figure out what the brainiac words meant.  It left me with a big ol’ head ache & an even bigger case of grumpy.  Not to mention that I forgot what the heck I was looking up in the first place!

The only thing that I can figure is that the template I’m using isn’t Blogger’s.  I got it from another site.  Now, let me just brag a little bit here, folks.  I can’t BELIEVE I even managed to find a cool template.  The fact that I was able to USE the template is a feat that should probably be recorded in some type of history book & reported on the news.  You know, something like, “Twit wit writer managed to find template - & GOT IT TO WORK!  Film, & confused author, at 11:00 pm”   They could cut to me, wandering around & babbling like some crazed character straight from a Carol Burnett episode.    Really – it’s that big of a deal for someone like me.

I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that the guestbook will maintain its modest little place with its modest little font on the bottom of my page.  Oh, well, humility is a good thing. 
Here’s the absolute biggest reason I’m writing about these misadventures.  My picture.  Doesn’t it look like I have this big ol’ ego & I just HAD to plaster a picture of my big fat head at the top of the blog?  That’s not what my goal was.   As usual, it was a case of all around technological ineptness, which has been the bane of my existence all the way back to the invention of the microwave.   After witnessing the symphony of fireworks & sound that occur after one has micro waved their first fork, the micro wave is best avoided (unless supervised by a teen – sigh).

Then, Al Gore had to come along & invent the internet (thanks, Al Gore).  On a side note, I wish he wouldn’t have invented global warming.  I just don’t seem to have a lot of luck with his inventions – you know, especially after the winter we just had.  I kept hollering at the snow during the, what, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th, blizzard we had (as we drove to the hospital during the worst of one), “Al Gore said that you’re supposed to be rain, you know!”  Let’s just hope that Al Gore doesn’t accidentally discover global “freezing”.  If he does, I’m investing in sun screen companies.  Just saying.
Next, Bill Gates had to come along & invent computers, which at one time took up entire office floors – where they belong!  But, noooo, that wasn’t good enough for old Bill.  He just HAD to go & make computers smaller, then made them achievable & convenient enough for just about every American to “need” one.  To make our lives simpler (snicker), Big Bill HAD to take it further; now we have laptops & pagers & cell phones that are pretty much mini-computers - & mini laptops called notebooks.   Neanderthals like me are being forced to understand all these gadgets & gizmos.  We're still happily purchasing paper notebooks & pens; like EVERYONE SHOULD! 

On the bright side, I’ve managed to maintain this blog.  And, for some unknown reason, I’m able to insert normal sized photos throughout it (go figure), so there’s that. 

Boy, look at how far I’ve digressed!!  I’m telling you, trying to compress too much information into this little brain of mine backfires –a lot.  Back to the original “big head” entry.

Being a writer, I’m supposed to have a head shot next to my byline.  So, what I was going for was something like this:

The Brunette Lucy vs. Breast Cancer - 

& Cancer Can Suck It!                    

Well, boogers, I can’t even get it right on Word!  I feel like I’m trying to herd cats with a Labrador.  I was trying to have the words & the description of the blog on the right of my small photo.  We can all see how successful I’ve been doing it in word, which should illustrate quite adequately the reason I stay away from technology.

Here’s a link to my Examiner page, so you get the idea of what I was going for – for real:

Note:  I’ve taken a leave of absence from the Examiner.  I’m hoping to be back at it in the next few weeks.  I’ll let you know when I begin again, as my first article will likely be interviews with the Phillies’ minor league team players, The Iron Pigs.

I’ve tried everything I can think of to fix the dumb thing.  I uploaded the photo to “Tinypic”, just like the one above.  I switched the pictures, & instead of my big fat head, I got a Tiny Pic head, with ginormous writing all over my face.  I looked like a leprechaun that just got clobbered by a rainbow of words.

So, I deleted the picture altogether, & I must have done something else wrong, because the words got all garbled & went all over the place.  I have to admit, with a name like Brunette Lucy, it was kind of apropos.  But, it looked even stupider, so I finally gave up & left my big fat head up there. 

The bottom line here (finally) folks is this; I’m really not a big ego freak.  In fact, I’ve made a career out of avoiding having my picture taken.  If you go through Christmas morning photos at our house, you may catch my slippers.  If you’re really lucky, you’ll see the back of my head.  Whenever a camera comes out, I dive like an Olympic champion to the back of a sofa.  This is a sport that my daughter, Aubrie, has embraced & elevated to an art form.  If not for needing head shots for my byline, or if I didn’t want to share my journey with breast cancer with as much honesty as humanly possible, you’d never know what I look like.  And that’s as it should be.

Until I figure out how to fix this blog template, please forgive my big head & the feeling that my eyes are following you.  Scroll down a little ways & you won’t have to feel like I’m watching you.  Cause I’m not – but only because I haven’t figured out how.  Giggle.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NOT the Big Head Blog Entry - Sorry!

Hi, Everyone,

My daughter, Aubrie, drove me to see Dr. Quiros on Friday.  Here we are:
It was so nice to see him & it’s always good to have another set of eyes on my incision.  He said that the incision is looking good, & that I’m doing pretty darned good for all my set backs.  Yeah, me!  And, as always, he answered all my questions, no matter how dumb they may have been.  I’m telling you, people, if you need a surgeon, he’s your guy!  He may look young, but, boy, he’s good.  I just always seem to feel better after I see him.

Tuesday, the 16th I had my chemo.  That meant I was able to take one of my bracelets off, leaving me with only 13 rounds to go – woo hoo!  As usual, it leaves me tired & a little bitchy.  When I get home, I generally nap for the rest of the day; which doesn’t suck when you think about it.  They should really rename chemo:  “Chemotherapy, an excuse to nap & whine like a baby”.   See?  Not that bad when you look at it THAT way!

I was able to bring the beads that Michele & I made.  I made Michele pose for a photo of her wearing the ones she made, Wonder Woman-style.  I think she looks adorable, but I’m sure she’s going to KILL me for posting it.  Anywho, here she is:
And here’s the basket o’ bracelets that I left for other women:
I hope that others will take advantage of our little way to mark the chemo countdown.

Yesterday, I went to see Dr. Morrissey in the morning, & he removed my stitches.  Of course, that came with my new instructions to keep putting gauze on it, & ripping it off to remove the dead skin.  Boy, I hope you didn’t eat anything before you began to read this, cause that’s just gross & uncalled for.

The afternoon was spent going back over to the oncologist for my favourite thing in the world (NOT), my Neulasta shot.  Ugh.  Today I’ve been hurting, but I’ve also been spending as much time as humanly possible asleep.  Babies have got nothing on me!

Upcoming is round 4 of chemo, as well as another bracelet taken off.  That, to me anyway, is cause for a big ol’ “Woo Hoo”!

I still have to tell you why I’m going to write a “Big Head” blog entry, but tonight isn’t the night (Big hint – the BIG OL’ PICTURE OF ME staring at you where it wasn’t before.  Ugh.) After all this watching tv & writing my blog, I need a nap!  Giggle. I’ll try to write more in the next few days, as there’s more to tell you about.

I’ll end tonight, however, with a heart felt, God Bless You, Christine & Don.  

Mini Post

I'm working on telling you what's been going on.  Needless to say, I'm still here!  I'll write more tomorrow - hopefully.  Had my third round of chemo Tuesday, & my Neulasta shot today.  So, I'm HOPING I'll be in shape to write more tomorrow!

As a teaser, I'm calling the next post, "The Big Head Post".  Giggle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Communication Stories

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME!  This is going to be a long entry, since there’s so much to tell you about!  I’m trying to break it up with the use of different fonts & colours.  Also, there’s a story about men at the end of my update (in the style of my regular Brunette Lucy column).  Read at your own peril.  As always, feel free to sign my guestbook at the very, very bottom of this page.  And if you know of how to enlarge the font, I’d LOVE the advice!

Before I begin, I have an incredibly touching story to tell you!  I’d been searching for mastectomy bras on eBay, since bras in stores are generally about $50.00 each.  Yikes!  If you’ve never seen mastectomy bras, let’s just say they’re not all that pretty, so $50.00 is too much to pay for such a utilitarian item.

I found an eBay store, Smiley’s Treasures, that had a style I thought looked nice, even though the site mainly sells normal lingerie.  It wasn’t in my size, so I sent a note to the owner, Dorothy Brandes, inquiring whether or not I could get one to fit me (this accidentally ties into my rant - really).  She emailed a lovely note back, explaining that she couldn’t acquire it, but would keep her eyes open for it & wished me well on my journey.  I didn’t think anything more about it.

This morning, Matt came upstairs with a package from eBay.  I couldn’t remember ordering anything, so I was befuddled.  Inside the package was a mastectomy bra.  It wasn’t the style I had inquired about, but it was my size.  Inside was a sweet note from Dorothy.  She sent it to me as a gift, after reading this blog.  I can’t tell you how touched I was that a woman who lives in Michigan & only “knows” me from reading this, would do that for me.  She read about all the trouble I’ve been having with infections, & wanted to make my life a little easier.  Dorothy, if you’re reading this, bless your heart!  You DID make my life easier, & you made me so happy, I cried.

Folks, if you need lingerie, would you take a look at Dorothy’s eBay store?  Like I said, her main business is lingerie, not mastectomy products, but she carries both.  Now, don’t go writing her & trying to get stuff for free, though, or you’ll get the Lucy stare/glare of death!  To my fan clubs in Taiwan & Australia, this is a good alternative to some of the prices you’ve encountered!

I have to apologize for the last blog post.  Boy, was I in a bad mood.  Hopefully, I can cleanse the thought of me wishing to eat babies from your thoughts!  I can’t do anything about it burning your eyes & being seared into your brains, though – sorry! 

This round of Neulasta is so not as bad as the first one.  Matt thinks it’s because I had the infection brewing in me when I had the first shot.  I also think the Claritin idea may have something to do with it.  Either which way, it still hurts – just not as much.  And I’m not taking the pain meds nearly as much as I did the last time, so that’s GREAT!  Apparently, I get all emotional when I take them, & I forget all about whatever it was I did or said.  Until it's too late.  Sigh.

Good news to report on the bracelet front, too.  Michele made some AWESOME bracelets.  Man, she’s just whipping them out like a short order cook flipping pancakes & is working on round two.  I’m taking photos of them & will post some of them soon.  I’ve been making more as well, & my sister, Teresa, contributed to the bead inventory.  Holy Cow, she bought a boat load!  And not just basic beads, but the really cool glass & super sparkly stuff (you just know I’m drooling over them).  I’m hoping to have a basket full to bring to chemo, which is Tuesday, March 16th.  Thanks for the beads, ya’ old bat (don’t worry, this is my “pet name” for her – you should hear hers for me!)!

I want to re-iterate, though, that the bracelet idea was NOT mine!  I read it on another blog, & I can’t for the life of me remember which one.  I’d love to give that girl credit.  I just took the idea & ran with the donating thingy.  It’s pretty funny, though, how many times I get stopped (on the few occasions that I’m out these days) by people liking the stack o’ bracelets.  It’s hard not to tell them that it’s not my eclectic fashion sense;  I wear them for a reason (even though my friends all know I’m not your “typical” dresser & I’m not sure if it’s good or bad.  Probably bad, as when I quip that it takes a lot of money to look this cheap, they just smile.  Hmm.)

So, all good on the Eastern PA front.  And I haven’t had to bite Neulasta back – yet.

Now, on to my “Man Story”.

My son, Dakota, is trying to take this whole breast cancer thing with a grain of salt.  Unfortunately, it’s a women’s disease, & he’s just turning 15 this Wednesday (boy, that’s a WHOLE other story!).  Anyway, it’s not something your average male kid-type wants to discuss.  Thankfully, he has a good dad, who’s a good listener & they have a good relationship.  They can discuss the situation, & Dakota can express, as best he can, his feelings about this ordeal.  However, a discussion between the males of the species is a wonder to behold.  There is very little said, yet, they seem to get by just fine.  Me, & most women, on the other hand, spend hours on the phone with our friends.

Men, by nature, are “doers” & phone calls are brief & to the point.  You can’t bring a problem to them & just complain about it the way you would a girlfriend.  For example, this would be a typical conversation between two women:

Woman 1:      “I went to Bon Ton yesterday because they were having a sale.  They only had ONE of the dresses I wanted.  Plus, it was a size too big.”

Woman 2:      “That’s awful!  Why does that always happen?”

1:         “I know!  I went through every sale rack AND the return rack looking for my size.  Still, nothing. ”

2:         “Did you get a salesgirl?”

1:         “Good luck trying to find one.”

2:         “I think it’s a case of bait & switch.”

I could continue to write this conversation, as it could go on for hours, but you get the idea.  Usually, however, this situation is resolved in one of two ways.  The complaining & sympathizing will go on for hours until the aggrieved woman is all complained and/or cried out.  Then the conversation will change to something completely different.

The second is that between the two of them, they work up a good old case of mad.  Then, they call their other girlfriends, & they, too, work themselves into a big ol’ case of mad.  Then, they’ll all work together on a letter to the manager of the store.  This can often turn into a petition, which is signed by at least 50 of the original complainants’ friends, her friend’s friends, family members & the list goes on.  This is either hand delivered or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, followed up by several phone calls to insure that the manager of the store is aware of the grievance, & doesn’t go away until the beleaguered manager turns over “buy one get one free coupons” to each lady on the petition, along with a well thought out, 2 page apology letter.

This is what women call turning lemons into lemonade.  Men call it the  ODGMISPMISIDAYAIBNLTCOS AND/OR ABIYPJMIS syndrome (Oh, Dear God, make it stop, please, make it stop, I’ll do anything you ask, including but not limited to, cessation of swearing and/or ark building, if you’ll please just make it stop).  Don’t worry, ladies, the men know how to pronounce the syndrome, although they usually shorten it to an expletive.  That, or some other form of universal man language.

For men, however, the conversation will only go one way.  Observe:

Man 1:        “Went to Bon ton to buy a shirt.  They didn’t have my size.”

Man 2:        “Uh-huh.”

Man 1:        “Got a bigger one, tucked it in, & nobody will know.”

Man 2:        “Good thinking.  Do you think McNabb is going to leave Philadelphia?”

The information has been shared, the solution decided upon, & now it’s on to sports.  All in little more than a few grunts.  Women’s heads would spin if this was the extent of a conversation between them.  And don’t even get me started on the solution that the men worked out.  If a woman put a dress on that was one size too large, our butts would look too big.  Can you imagine THAT little tete e tete?  But, the minimalist approach works for guys.  Weird, I know, but there it is.

In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter what form conversation takes.  As long as the lines of communication are open, who cares?  Grunt, complain, laugh, joke, pound your chest, whatever.  Emotions & the ability to share them are what make us unique & human.  Having good family & friends to unburden our loads in whatever form it takes, is such a blessing.   Trust me; if I didn’t have my family & friends to support me, along with a few “earthly angels”, during this trying time, I doubt very much that I could be so optimistic.  Leaning on them & my faith in God have gotten me so much farther than if I had to go this alone.

Sometimes, the Footprints in the Sand are all types & forms of earthly angels that God sends to do His work.  Thankfully, I’ve been blessed to have been carried throughout most of this journey.

If you want to hear an inspirational song, click on this link:

Footprints in the Sand, a video by Leona Lewis.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Second Chemo

Had the chemo, & got my Neulasta shot yesterday.   I’ve got a headache that just won’t quit, though, but, so far, the major pain hasn’t started.  Matt, God love him, reminded me that it was the day after the shot that the major pain started.  Yippee.  Not.

But, I’m taking my nurse’s advice, which seems to be working so far (knock on wood).  I’m taking Claritin allergy medicine.  I forgot why it’s supposed to work, but it’s supposed to channel the excess white blood cells.  Where they’re headed, I’m not sure, but I’m just glad that they’re not hanging around my lower back – yet.  If I can get them to go somewhere productive & not painful, I’m a happy camper.

And speaking of pain – I’m so mad I could eat babies!  Dr. Seisholtz is a good man, but, boy, did he irritate me!  He said that “most patients don’t react to Neulasta the way that you do”.  Um, excuse me?  Gee, I’m sorry that my body goes into agonizing pain when I get that shot.  Plus, I DO read other blogs & many women report the same thing.  It KILLS them!  I have a lot more to say about that (as you all know I do), but not tonight. 

OK, just one thing.  I think that oncologists should have to take that shot.  Then maybe they’d have an idea of what some people go through.  It’s just that some doctors have all the sympathy of an apex predator with a toothache.  Just saying.

On the bright side, though, Neulasta is a weapon in the doctor's arsenal that they didn't have before.  Thanks to its super powers, white blood cell counts are raised, which counteract the many ill effects of chemo.  Before Neulasta, cancer patients were subject to every infection that they came into contact with.  So, even though I absolutely hate it, I'm very grateful that it exists.  One day soon, though, I plan to bite it back!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Short update.

I had chemo today.  Even though I was happy to get back to it, it also means Neulasta tomorrow.  The doctor said that not every one responds to Neulasta the same way; that it doesn't bother everyone the way it does me.  

Well, that just sucks because it KILLS me!!!

Of course, I’m thinking I’m just the world’s biggest whack job.  Which, sadly, may be very true.

Anyway, I came home & slept all afternoon, got up & nibbled a little, took some medicine, & now I’m going back to sleep.  I know, what a GLAMOROUS life I lead!!

Will write more when I’m conscious.   
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