Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shock Collar

Dogs are smart creatures. Take a dog that lives with one of those invisible underground fences that gives them a shock when they get too close. It knows where the line is, and the consequences of getting too close or crossing over. And only once in a blue moon does their desire for a pesky squirrel or evil car overtake their intelligence. Last night I was feeling very dog-like. Went to an outdoor summer concert to see Rusted Root playing. They were fantastic! Jam band, high-energy, highly percussive, tribal beat music. Perfect for a cooling summer evening, and just the kind of music that makes you want to move and groove and jump up and down. And any of you who know me, even the smallest bit, know that I LOVE to dance and groove. So the jamming starts up and my desire is to jump around, but that one staple in my bum was a serious shock collar reminding me that there was a line that should not be crossed. I accommodated as best I could with shoulder shimmying and arm waving, but it just wasn't the same. So world, you're on warning... when the bum recovery is over and this shock collar is removed, I am wreaking havoc with the grooving everywhere I go.

In other far less entertaining news... I start chemo next Tuesday. The medical wheels are moving quickly again, which means we're back on the fast track to kicking cancer's ass, but always a little scary too. I'll be getting the common colon-rectal chemo cocktail FOLFOX along with another drug that prevents growth in the body. Though we're waiting on the additional drug until my ass is a couple more weeks recovered. Every two weeks I'll have a couple hours of infusion and then go home with a continuous chemo pump for 2 days. I got used to having a pump on for a week at a time this winter, so two days should be a breeze. Then I'll have a week to recover before we repeat the cycle for three months running. On the bright side, I shouldn't lose my hair, though it will likely thin and I'm already thinking of shorter hairstyles to try out (think Audrey Hepburn folks). I have three pages of other possible side effects though, so we'll just have to wait and see how I respond. The low dosage chemo this winter didn't seem to overtly affect me too much, it was the radiation that really kicked me. So I'm hoping that I luck out again with the 'big' chemo.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Feeling (p)Lucky

I have always had a healthy respect for health insurance and always been grateful when I've had employers who offer it. That could never be more true than now. Billings and insurance explanations of benefits have been coming in regularly, but most haven't been too notable. I was a bit shocked at my first PET scan billing, over fourteen thousand dollars. I felt really lucky to have the health insurance then. But that pales in comparison to the billing that just came in for the actual surgery. Holy expensive Batman! Around a hundred grand for my trouble. And we only owe a hundred dollars, a fraction of a fraction. This is nuts. I claim no understanding of insurance billings and medical costs, and I'm not the political sort to be more than nominally aware of related legislation. But I don't want to try to imagine going through this with those kinds of bills hanging over my head. My complete sympathy goes out to those who do. And another reason I feel blessed despite the circumstances.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Butt, it hurts

There is not a lot of good to say about a 4-plus inch incision in your ass. It makes doing just about anything far more difficult than you can imagine. We just don't realize how much work and movement our butts do all the time, until every movement it makes comes with pain and twinges. Being over a month post-op, my energy level and general health seem to be pretty good. Unfortunately there is not a lot I can do with that energy level. Walking around a lot is too much butt movement; yoga or other exercise is too much butt stretching; riding in a car is too much butt bouncing, and forget attempting to drive my manual; sitting in an upright position is too much butt pressure; etc. Comfort is not in the cards. I'm pretty well known for not keeping still. But having to switch positions and rearrange every 15-20 minutes is really pushing my old standards. It's like my ass has a severe case of ADD, and they just don't make pills for that. Or at least not the kind they send you home with.

Having never been sick much before my diagnosis and never having any surgery even close to this magnitude, I was sorely prepared for the aftermath. It's amazing how the littlest things can become so difficult and, consequently, so blasted annoying. Like socks. I mean think about putting on your socks. How far up do you have to cock your leg to easily put them on? Yeah. Not so easy now with a stitched up bum. And forget tying the shoes. Thank the gods it is sandal season! You get pretty creative figuring out how to do stuff. But to be honest, I like the challenge of trying to figure out how to get the things done that I want. I could just ask. But I am far too damned independent minded to do that as often as I should. That's why I have good friends who scold me when I try to do it all myself. And I thank them for their chiding.

Right now I'm a bit bummed because my twinge-y bum doesn't have the wherewithal to handle a flight down to Texas this weekend for my great aunt's funeral. An amazing, fun, energy-filled woman that I've always adored. And although no one in the family would expect me to make the trip, I would have chosen to. So... Aunt Lee, I love you and you will be sorely missed by so many. Your bright light may have left this world, but we are all better for having basked in it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Into the Great Wide Open

Alright Internet, here I am. Joining the navel-gazing multitude of 'bloggers' with the illustrious idea of edification and entertainment for the masses. Or in my case, for updating (and amusing) my friends and family while I navigate the seas of life with the heavy anchor of cancer. So let's get on with it...

This year has been hard. There is just no getting around that simple truth. It has been a roller coaster in all ways: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Cancer changes you. What it has done for me is to strip away all the excess mental and emotional baggage and bring me closer to my core Self. It's changed me into more ME. My middle name is Hope, and I spend some time everyday using that word to lift myself up and out of whatever may be bringing me down. It's a mantra, a religion of sorts, and with it I can smile and charge on with my attempt to suck the marrow out of every moment of life.

Yesterday I got the results of my latest PET scan. It shows that there is progression of the metastatic cancer in my lungs. It shows cancer cells in both hilar lymph nodes (before it was only in one), growth in both tumors, and a new so-tiny-almost-can't-see-it tumor. This means we move on to systemic chemotherapy now and wait on the lung surgery. On the good news side, my belly and rectal area are completely clear, which means the first surgery got it all. The bright side is that the rest of my summer will no longer be ruined by another surgery recovery. On the other hand, my summer will now be ruined by chemo. Toh-mayto, tuh-mahto. I've already got an appointment lined up with my oncologist this week. And I plan to keep up with the updates here.

I've spent most of today picking my chin back up and getting this dang blog started. I'm feeling rather accomplished. Right now I'm already focusing on and looking forward to a sexy car night out with friends tomorrow. We'll put a shine on the Mustang, I'll wear a summer dress, and we'll drink milkshakes at the Gimore diner car. It's going to be fantastic.