Monday, April 29, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Spring has finally sprung and it appears to actually be here to stay. This pleases me inordinately. It is my favorite season after all. I love the loamy smell as new shoots break from the earth, the dusting of green on the trees as buds emerge, all the birds making their music, the general energy as everything comes in to full life again. The feeling of possibility is palpable and intoxicating.

Got to spend some time in the beautiful outdoors on Saturday with my sister and her husband's family, and a quick visit to see our family as well. A little light fishing, picnic food, a cloudless sky, a mini road trip; rather a lovely day. Felt pretty good throughout the weekend as well. My nephew just keeps growing and getting bigger and cuter. He is giving full smiles and even laughs now, and it just melts your heart to see it. He's four months at this point and I know he'll be changed that much more when I see him again in another month or two. As always, I had a comfortable, loving, relaxing time visiting and look forward to the next one.

So, we pulled my bicycle out last week hoping to take advantage of the nice weather. Got the cobwebs dusted off and the tires aired up, but didn't end up having the time to take it out. Today, however, I took it for a few spins around the neighborhood. I haven't ridden since before the surgery on my ass, and I was wondering if there would be any issues. I am very happy to report that there are none whatsoever. Still pretty out of shape, so I won't be riding all around town quite yet. But getting out a bit every day the weather allows, and I feel up for it, should put me back in shape and cruising speed relatively quickly.

The end is feeling closer and closer. And the good weather only increases my optimism about the end of treatment. Getting back on the bike makes me feel that much more normal as well. I will be stronger at the end of this in so many ways. I'll be a little weak and sore in the legs tomorrow for the work I put in today. But it's just like the radiation, the surgeries and the chemo. It will hurt a little for a little while, but I'm better in the end for having gone through the effort.

In the early days I heard that cancer would take a year of my life. I'm still adding days and weeks to that initial year. It is looking more like a year and a half at this point. But the days slip by, faster as the sun now chases them down, and I truly am learning a little patience. I keep talking about the end... now the light at the end of the tunnel is the summer sun beckoning me to come out and play. The subtle warmth of spring on my neck hastens my blood and my thoughts. I can't help but feel the pull and the excitement and the nearness of the finish line. Luckily there are projects and distractions to keep my mind from being completely consumed in the thought of it. But it is a dominant thought in many of my recent days. So I'll beg your indulgence in future commentary to come.

I know there will be new fears, and challenges, and adjustment to another "new normal." My adaptation skills have stood me well so far; I will continue to keep them close at hand. But this end is coming at a beautiful time and I'm almost ready to start counting the days. There's the sun to bask in, and roads yet to ride... I'm ready.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Waiting for the Upswing...

I knew the treatments were going to start seriously kicking my butt at some point. Looks like the second half is that point. Been pretty exhausted the last couple of days and doing quite a bit of sleeping and laying about. I've had a general sense of nausea and overall ache, but have been able to keep both in relative check with meds and rest. Mostly just trying to entertain myself through the days so that the bad ones pass quickly and I can move on to the post-pump upswing. Did find myself feeling a little bit better this morning. But I sense that it's going to take another couple of days before I'm back in "normal" range. So I may seem less peppy than usual for the last month or so of this.

It really has been a boring couple of days around here. Not much to report. However, the neuropathy in my hands is really bugging the hell out of me. It is just cool enough that they tingle most of the time. And then seize up often in the first few post-treatment days. I can deal with it, but it is very uncomfortable and rather disturbing when I'm doing something like driving.

Speaking of driving... I am heading up to my sister's later this afternoon. We've got some family from Texas visiting our grandmother this weekend. So we'll be heading over there to visit as well and getting out to enjoy the springtime weather that should be in full force finally. Or I may end up napping a lot at their place. Either way, it will be nice to get out of the house and enjoy some sunshine. So I'm off to pack and get on the road. I'll check in again in a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Live Blogging!

11:20 a.m.
Well my friends, we are here for round four of what is hopefully my last set of chemo treatments. I've been fretting over this one for the last week. Last summer during round one, it was treatment number four that my blood counts were too low for me to receive treatment. I was preparing myself for the possibility of being turned away today so that I wouldn't go through those same disappointed feelings as the first time around. But it turns out that my bloodwork is almost identical to two weeks ago. So, low WBC and Neutrophils, but not low enough to cause a problem. The only real change was a dip in my platelets. So I have clearly done well with giving myself the rest needed. And my body is doing well this time around so far. Because I was so prepared for denial, I was kind of excited to get the go ahead. It's a strange excitement though. On the one hand, woohoo we're getting this done and over with, moving forward. On the other hand, ick chemo.

I was also prepared to just order myself up a sandwich for delivery for lunch. But I have a lovely friend (thanks Xen!) bringing me a much tastier lunch of asian salad with shrimp and tomato basil soup. Yay friends.

11:40 a.m.
For those of you wondering what I've been up to the last several days, not a lot of exciting news to deliver. Went and saw the last show of the theatre season at WMU, Kiss Me Kate. A very cute show with great choreography and excellent performances. Drove down to Fort Wayne for a cold, windy day event on Saturday. And even had enough energy at the end of the night to head out for the monthly dance party in town. Mostly been staying near home, cooking and eating a lot, and trying to stay rested and relaxed. I've not lost any weight this chemo course and so far have had less appetite issues. Yesterday was a beautiful warm spring day. Opened up the windows to air the house out and took a long walk in the sunshine. All good stuff.

2:38 p.m.
Having a difficult time keeping connected to the wifi here at the center today; slowing up my posting. Lunch was perfect and not too heavy. One of the massage therapists came around and I got a lovely hand massage which put me right out into a brief nap. Would nap more, but I think I'll be done within a half hour. That's what the rest of the afternoon/evening is for. Lounging and napping on the couch. Pretty typical post-chemo evening. We've got leftovers to warm up if I actually have an appetite this evening. So a whole bunch of nothing to come for the rest of my day.

10 p.m.
Got a couple of naps in after I got home. Actually ate some dinner and kept it down. Now in that vascillating place between wiped and tired, feeling not too bad and feeling crappy, hungry and nauseated. Now that the trend is over and  the game is free, I've jumped on the long past Angry Birds bandwagon. Lounging on the couch playing the levels repeatedly until I max out my score. What a sweet life, eh? It's all I'm up for though tonight. So it will have to do. And I am A-Ok with that.

Hope everyone else had better days. I'll be back in a couple of days and hopefully feeling better.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another day in the life

Another week of negligent blogging. Ah well, I make no excuses to you. I have been preoccupied with an embroidery project that has a deadline. But I also haven't been thinking about the blogging or been inspired with any epiphanous thoughts. So there ya go.

I seem to be handling the chemo pretty well again overall. The neuropathy is more frustrating this round because it is generally colder than last time. I notice my hands tingling quite often as they get chilled. It makes me ache for the true warmth of late spring and summer. My appetite has been much better than the last round. I suspect that is because the first chemo was much closer to my initial gut surgery and my gastro-intestinal tract was still recovering. However, in the last week I have had quite a few issues with trying to keep things moving along at a regular pace. I'm either constipated or diarrhetic, and the pain of those has been accompanied by nausea. It's been rather annoying and painful a few times. I'm going to try a few days of a low residue diet (low fiber, easily digestible foods) to see if we can get everything back on track. I assume these recent issues are from the chemo, as diarrhea and stomach problems are high on the side effect lists. If I can't get everything regulated within the next week I will schedule a chat with the nutritionist at the cancer center. And I'll definitely be mentioning it to my doctor next week when I go in for chemo session number four.

There hasn't been much exciting happening this past week. I've spent some time with friends but have mostly been trying to keep a diligent focus on this current embroidery project. It needs to be finished by early next week. So I'll have more time on my hands after that. As the sun comes out more and more, streaming through the windows of the house, it makes me think of house projects and spring cleaning. Last Friday afternoon turned into an unexpected spring cleaning effort and the living/dining room main area are now spic and span from ceiling to floor. I've got some painting in this area that I want to finish up finally. So when there is a full warm day of sun I'll open all the windows and work on that.

Lots of plans and projects and possibilities filling my mind recently. I guess that is my version of spring fever. It is fun to think up all these big plans. I know some of them won't get done, and some will be scaled down from their initial grandiose ideas. But I'm okay with that. There's something satisfying in recognizing what can and can't be done and accepting what ends up happening.

I'm going to scurry off to be productive. There's dinner to prep and embroidery to be done. I'll try to catch you all up again soon.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On the center line...

Didn't realize that I let an entire week go by without a new post. My apologies for that dear readers. It was a pretty busy weekend and I've been trying to focus my free time on an embroidery project due pretty soon. Slept in (this will be the new theme in the two months to come as we get into the second half of it) on Friday and then met some girlfriends to talk about summer camping planning. I am SO very looking forward to doing some camping this summer. One year off and I am jonesing pretty bad to put up the pavilion and lounge about in the summer heat. That left me just enough time to put something together to eat and then hit the downtown Art Hop early with another good friend. A few hours of art and free wine later, we grabbed a late bite to eat and then made it to an artist's afterparty. There was an interesting crew and a game of Cards Against Humanity, which seems to always be a good time with the right mix of people.

Slept in on Saturday and went out for a late brunch. Still a bit tired though, so a short nap was had. And by then it's time to quickly put something together for dinner so I can leave for a theatre date in Grand Rapids. Went and saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Dog Story Theatre. Perfect venue for this small stage show. And a very well done show it was. They had a great four piece band bringing a good sound and the actors were fully invested in their characters. I'd recommend it, but we caught the last showing. But look for it around at your local theatres. Makes for an entertaining couple of hours.

Slept in on Sunday (told you, theme) and made a simple late brunch. Then sat down and focused on this embroidery project. Ran some movies in the background and just got work done. But the entire weekend flew by and next thing I knew I was in chemo prep mode yesterday.

Was planning on an edition of live chemo blogging today, but the laptop was not being responsive. It was an easy fix, but not one I was bothering with while at the center. And I had my embroidery project with me as well. So I worked on that until I got too tired to focus. Honestly, didn't really get too far. Ah well, that's what tomorrow is for.

Chemo went well. And this puts us at the halfway point in this course! Kind of feels like "old hat" by now. Nothing new or different. Which is good. Pretty tired, so I will be napping quite soon. Otherwise everything is looking pretty fine. My blood counts are down below average now. But not low enough to cause a problem yet. I do need to be careful about catching things at this point. Most of the rest of my bloodwork looked good and in appropriate ranges. My doctor didn't seem worried about anything and his report was pretty standard.

Rest, rest, rest. I believe that is the key at this point. It was my fourth chemo session that I got denied last summer because of too low white blood counts. Today was number three. So I need to take it easy on myself in the next couple of weeks so that we don't get any delays in the process this time around. Weather is getting nicer daily. I'll be taking advantage of the non-rainy days and walking, which should help build my body up as well.

A lot more detail here than you likely needed friends. I'll blame the rambling on the drugs. So let's wrap this up as that's all the news that's fit to print. Time to start my resting. Ciao!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Space Between

It was a laundry day here at the house today. We've had a dryer that runs but doesn't get hot for a couple of months now. Which meant putting off laundry and then doing several loads in a row and taking it all to the laundromat down the road to dry. A moderate pain in the rear, but not horribly off-putting. And the money for a new dryer hasn't been in the cards yet. My sister suggested I go to our local Freecycle group and ask if anyone had a dryer they were looking to have taken off their hands. And it happened that someone did. So we got a free dryer that needed some elbow grease to take care of some rusted water stains on the exterior. We had everything needed for the project at the house, so it really just cost several hours of work on our part. And I've got the time to spare. Turns out it also needed a vent pipe and some wiring. But all in all the dollar cost was just around twenty-five bucks. Not bad for a working appliance. Certainly cheaper in the short run than the trips to the laundromat. And absolutely cheaper than a used or new machine.

Needless to say, I was a few loads behind in laundry until we got it hooked up and running a couple of days ago. So, laundry day. Which I admit that I now enjoy. Not because I like doing laundry, but because of the rhythm of laundry. It takes an entire hour for a load to run through the washing machine. That's an hour of waiting. Which used to drive me crazy in the pre-cancer days of never-stop-moving. I couldn't take on anything that would take more than an hour, or that couldn't be interrupted in the meanwhile. There was a strong sense of wasted time and limitation back then. But now I flow into the rhythm of it and enjoy all the space between minding the machines. I'll just do little things: have a cup of tea, read some poetry, watch a few videos, revisit bits of books or blogs, watch the birds at the feeders, tidy up small spaces, prep for dinner or other projects. There's a lot of space in an hour. Sometimes it passes quickly, sometimes it feels slower. But the timer will go off and I'll find myself gently pulled out of my reverie or activity. And when moving clothes to the dryer I recognize how much work was done without me having to lift much of a finger. How extraordinarily convenient.

I've always had a pretty positive outlook. But I had a very difficult relationship with time. There was never enough, it was always passing too quickly; I couldn't find the balance between things that needed to be done and the time available. Ironic that I likely have less time in front of me than before, and yet I no longer feel like there isn't enough. I may not get as much done at the end of a day as I used to, but most of the time I still do. And rather than wasting some of that time lamenting time, now I just exist in it. Looking on this change sometimes feels rather astonishing. Cancer may do a lot of horrid things to me, but I truly believe it has helped me become a better person as well. So... I guess, thank you Cancer. But I'm still out to kick your ass.