Painting the House at 2:00 a.m.?

Thursday, Jan. 29

Back to the doctor’s again.  Frack seems to be okay now that he is on antibiotics.  Frick’s throat is red which means she has a virus, or strep throat (which is going around at the daycare).  I’ve been making her rinse with salt water and am hoping it will go away.

 

Sat. 30/Sun. 31

It’s 2:00 a.m..

Cathy (and my oncologist) warned me that my house was going to be clean on this treatment regime.  It started today in the laundry room.  However, they didn’t say anything about attempting to paint the house at 2:00 in the morning (and what’s scary is that I’m not on steroids until Wednesday!).

Does anybody know whether paint dries properly when it’s  minus 12 degrees outside?  I have attempted to paint my side door (inside and out) and am not sure if I will be able to get out tomorrow.

It feels so good to get rid of those pesky little Frick and Frack fingerprints off the walls, doors and trims.  I’ve started painting primer in the staircase at the side door.  Hope’s room is pretty much finished (all purple with white trim).  That’s why I haven’t written in a few days.

We bought a cute lavender carpet from Pottery Barn today and her desk should be arriving soon.  I’ll send you a pic. when it’s done.  I’m going to put Tinkerbell decals on the walls as soon as we have placed all the furniture in her room.  Her dresser didn’t come with a mirror on top, so I’m painting her a white one (from her previous wooden brown dresser).  I  might draw some purple flowers on it.

We still haven’t decided what to do with the floor in Hope’s room.  We removed the carpet and boy was it ever dusty for a while.  Now I want to remove more rugs because Hope and I have asthma and I think it might be healthier for us both if the rugs went bye-bye.  However, the old hardwood floor in Hope’s bedroom creaks like crazy and seems really dry.  The house is about 50 years old and I think the floors have bit the biscuit.  We are either going to sand and varnish what we’ve got or get new hardwood floors (hopefully ones that  we won’t have to apply varnish ‘cause I really don’t want to smell it).  Well, I’d better be off to bed now.

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Chemo Abracadabra

 

I have a new magic trick.  I call it “Chemo Abracadabra”.

It works like this.

One moment, I have something in my hand (like a glass), and before I know it, it is shattering around my feet.  This phenomenon explains the rapid decline of glasses I have in my cupboard.  I am beginning to only see my children’s plastic tableware in there.

Unfortunately, I experienced  “Chemo Abracadabra” at a Chinese grocery store on the weekend.  The lady asked me if I wanted a bag for my 3 items.  I said no and proceeded to pick up my parcels (one being a glass bottle of Thai Sweet and Sour Spring Roll Sauce).  You guessed it.  My brain told me I had it firmly in my hand, but somehow, it ended up broken below my feet.  I was actually quite surprised.  My hand remained in the “holding” position, but the bottle was no longer there.  The cashier called someone over to clean up the mess.  No less than 3 chinese girls came over, looked down on the ground and gasped.  One of them screamed, “Ahhhhhhh,  and said something in rapid chinese”.   Didn’t know what she said, but I’m certain it went kind of like this…. “Stupid white people, why they come to make a mess in my store?  Why she no take a bag?”

I said I was sorry and left.

Today, at Gilda’s club I learned that this phenomenon happens to some people on chemo.  Something about messages to the brain and neurons not responding properly (neuropathy?).  One of the other chemo ex-patients said that he was having problems feeling his feet two months after his treatment.  Apparently that could be kind of dangerous, when you don’t feel the curb under your feet.  Another woman said that she was fell down a lot after treatment.  More stuff to be weary of, I guess.

 

 

Frack is sick … again.

He was complaining on Thursday, but I thought it was only because of his tooth (which I pulled out on Friday).

He had been having a fever on and off for a couple of days, and he’s got another loose tooth.

On Saturday morning we spent 4 hours at Sick Kids Hospital until I got fed up and left.

We waited about 2 1/2 hours in the waiting room.  We were the second ones there, but more and more kids kept arriving coughing all over the place.  I did not want to be there and was afraid I’d get whatever they had.  Finally someone ushered us to a gurney in a hallway for 1 1/2 more hours where we had our lunch.  A nurse finally came up to us and asked us for Frack’s urine sample (which is what we always have to do when he gets a fever).  I had it ready and waiting for them to take it.  She left and came back 10 minutes and told us there was no blood in the urine, but there was protein in there.

That’s all I needed to hear, and we left.  Told her we didn’t want to see a doctor, it was taking too long.  She said, “I understand, if he gets any worse come back”.  “Not likely,” I told her.

 

Sunday, he was okay in the morning and afternoon, but by early evening was complaining that his ear hurt.  The walk in clinic nearby closed 1 1/2 hours earlier than it was suppose to.  Usually they close at 5:00, but they left at 3:30 according to the sign which looks like they change it at will.   I dropped Bobo and Frack off at our local hospital, told them good luck, and phone when they wanted to be picked up.  There was no way I was doing that again.  They were only there for 2 1/2 hours before I got the phone call to be chauffeured home.  So he is on antibiotics for 7 days.

 

Today, Frick told me her head and her throat hurts.

If I have to spend one more minute at the doctors office I think I am going to scream.

Wednesday, Jan. 27

 

 

My cousin from Australia decided to chide me after reading my aforementioned blogs.

Dear Cousin

Should you even be Bloody Driving around  if you are experiencing “Chemo Abracadabra” Glad i don’t live in Canada!!!  Everybody get off the Roads……    My Magical Cousin is on the loose….  one moment she will have a steering wheel in her hands and the next ……………

My driving is fine.  The wheel is not going to drop to the ground and smash into pieces in my hands, thank you very much!

And so far, I have not had any problems with my feet, although I have been warned it happens two months after treatment – right about the time I’m suppose to go back to work! Ha!

I received a package from the Long Term Disability people.  In it there is a pamphlet called Carepath, which we are covered under our plan.  Here’s a blurb about it:

Your personal CAREpath Oncology Team is like having your own cancer experts at your side from the first time you call, through your treatment and into survivorship.  CAREpath and your person CAREpath Oncology Nurse will provide:

-Emotional support for the cancer patient and their immediate family (OTIP member, spouse and dependent children)

-Assessment of cancer treatment plan and options

-Explanations of tests and treatments

-Questions to ask on first and subsequent visits to the oncologist

-Expert advice and support through all treatment phases

-Information on how to access other support services, if necessary

-Guidance to alternate treatment locations, if required or requested

-Specialized advice and support on how to reduce the risk of a recurrence or new cancer

-Advice on issues survivors may face, including delayed effects of treatment

I am going to phone them on Friday.

I wish I knew about this when I was first diagnosed.  It may have helped alleviate some undo stress.

Good thing I had friends bring me books and talk with me to get me through the initial shock, surgery, and tests because otherwise I think I would have driven myself nuts.

So today I went to Hope’s class to learn how to do “Comic Life” on Macintosh computers.  I always wanted to learn how to use this program properly and figured if it was any good I would use it in my classroom or hire the guy myself ($15 per student).  It was only his 3rd time doing the presentation in front of a class, so he was still learning.  He was very patient with the kids and a pretty nice guy.  However, the program is pretty simple, and I think I will save the (20 students x $15 = $300) and do it myself.  The good thing is that he brings 6 laptop computers to the class so they can work on them in groups of 3.  I think I would get him to do the animation program with my students instead.

I had forgotten how tiring it is to teach (and all I was doing today was helping).  I didn’t feel it when I was at the school, but when I got home I was ridiculously tired and wanted to go it bed.  I made dinner and went to sleep at 6:30 and got up again.  I started feeling kind of weird, swollen and achy.  My legs started tingling and I couldn’t move for a while, but it soon passed.  Don’t know what that was about.  I’m glad I got out though as I was getting pretty depressed at home yesterday.  My eyes look like hell again; my eye brows too.  The only good thing is that the people at Home Depot were very nice to me when I went to get paint and discuss flooring.  They even took my packages to the car for me.  I guess there are some advantages to looking like hell, after all.

Hope was complaining of a sore throat again today, but was adamant that we both go to school so she could make her comic book.  I phoned the doctor’s office and they told me to bring Frick and Frack in at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night.  I’m not too worried about Frack at this point because he has been taking antibiotics for 2 days, but I need to find out if I need to take him to Sick Kids for a leaky kidney.  And I’m hoping Hope doesn’t have strep throat so she can give it to me.  I’ve been getting her to rinse with salt water which seems to be helping.  I think I am going to send Bobo to the Doctors office tomorrow because I just don’t have the stamina.  I hope they aren’t too late getting home or they won’t be wanting to get up the next day.

Toodles.

I’m going to bed.

 

My Head’s Sprouting

Believe it or not, my head is sprouting.  I have little tiny spots that look like blackheads all over my head.  And it’s not smooth sailing over my head with my hand.  It feels a bit sand-paperish.

Bobo is in the dog house again and I don’t want to explain why.

But if he keeps this up, I’m sending him to the curbside.

And no, I do not want any phone calls asking what he did this time.

Thank you very much.

 

Buzz Cut

So I got my head shaved off yesterday.  It was quite quiet at the salon.  All the patrons were deadly silent while I chatted up a storm.

It actually feels kind of neat, this buzz cut.  Frack liked it too.

Eight more weeks till my hair begins to sprout… just in time for spring.

I am so looking forward to my next Chemo treatment on Feb. 4 so I can get this damn Picc. Line out of my arm.  No more cow glove accompanying me in the bath.  Alleluia.

I started to read some stuff on the internet about the pill Tamoxifen, which is the next drug I will need to take for 5 years.  Apparently it blocks cancer cells from taking the estrogen in my body to reproduce itself.  I can’t remember all the side effects, but the ones I do remember quite clearly include the fact that I am going to have more hot flashes, become very hairy and swollen, and maybe become anxious and depressed.

Panic Attack

For some inexplicable reason, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. today in a cold sweat.

“OMG”,“ I thought, “I hid my jewelry in my purple and burgundy jackets and a sock in my sock drawer and sent them to the Diabetes Association.  I jumped out of bed and in leaped to my pretty bare closet.  Then I went to my sock drawer.  “AHHHHH”, not in the corner where I had stashed it.  Horrified, I then went to Bobo’s bedroom and woke him up (he sleeps in another room because his snoring is at the same decibel level as an airplane taking off from an airport).  “OMG”, I told him, “Remember how I stashed my jewelry in my clothes because I thought someone had broken into our house.   I sent it to the Diabetes Association.”  “Oh”, he said.  “You should always check the pockets before you throw something out.  Why don’t you drive over there and see if the bags are still there”.  Hopeful, I quickly changed and raced down to where the drop off donation box was located.  There was nothing around the box when I got there.  Crestfallen, I drove back home crying.  “I lost my Baptism necklace and my Confirmation Bracelet – you had better not tell mom and dad this when you read this (sisters) and I mean it.  Boy was I upset.  I cried a good hour when I got home in Bobo’s arms.  Damn I’m going to have puffy eyes tomorrow.  For some reason I headed to the bathroom and found my Baptism necklace dangling on a hook.  “Thank God”, I thought, “At least I still got this”.

Frack was not a happy camper all night.  He had a slight fever and his bottom front tooth was coming out.  Every couple of hours he would cry, “My tooth hurts”.  I gave him some Tylenol.  I really did not want to take out his tooth, envisioning the screaming that went on with that when my father pulled out my teeth and those of my sisters.

I was kind of hoping that his tooth would fall out at school or day-care really because I DID NOT want to pull it out.  I tried briefly on Thursday and he almost bit me.  So both of us were miserable this morning and he refused to go to day-care.  I told him he could stay home, but Cathy was coming to help clean out Hope’s room and he would have to stay out of our way.  He agreed and he pretty much kept to his word – other than the fact that he got hungry at 11:00 and wanted to go to McDonald’s to get an Alvin and the Chipmunk Toy.

When Cathy came in I told her the whole torrid story, crying my heart out.  The only jewelry I found were my religious ones … 3 Crosses….  That just sent a shiver down my spine.  Too weird to be explainable.

 

Mouth Sores

I should have paid more attention to that white tongue that appeared in my mouth yesterday and start to rinse my mouth out with baking soda and water or salt water.  But I didn’t.  I got too cheeky.  I  figured that I didn’t get mouth sores before (although I did constantly rinse) and maybe that was one side effect I wasn’t inclined to get.  But I was wrong.  One big, honking mouth sore smack dab in the middle of my tongue.  Ouch!  Saltwater here I come.

Hoarder No More!

Today, I am soooo proud of myself.

Good ‘ole Cathy inspired me to Get Rid of all the (bleep) out of my closets.

That’s right…. it’s almost all gone.  Ten bags full!  (She told me I could buy more).

I honestly didn’t think I had that much stuff, but BOY WAS I WRONG.

I didn’t want the bags to hang around my house, least my husband went through it when he got home to resurrect some of it (he is the true hoarder in the house – especially when it comes to toys).  But all of the junk making it’s way to the Diabetes Assn. was pretty much my old clothes.

I don’t really know why I was still hanging onto ancient stuff with shoulder pads in them.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that it is much easier to get rid of it when someone makes funny faces at you and  yells, “Are you KIDDING… get RID of it – when you are not too sure.   Those “undecided” items always seemed to make their way back into the closet before but not with Cathy around.

I wanted to quit several times during the day, but Cathy is relentless.  “Not yet”, she would keep on saying.  You’re doing good… we’re almost done.  Man, she tires me out.  I was ready for bed at 6:00 tonight.

Next room, is Hope’s!  Got to get that done before her furniture arrives.  They called to deliver it on Friday but I told them to wait until next week so I could clear out her room and get the carpet cleaned and steamed.

I would really like to have a go at Bobo’s closets (especially his hole-y socks), but I think he would kill me.  The basement is kind of scary too, but I have a purpose when I get down there… to get rid of the toys my kids have grown out of.   No more procrastination!

I smell something burning – like rubber.

Yelled at Bobo to come find out what it is.

Several minutes later…. I feel like I’m being asphyxiated

Bobo seems to think it’s all in my head… for a while and then asks me to sniff the ceiling fan.

I think he’s nuts until he unscrews the light bulb and holds it to my nose.  “Yuck!  That’s IT”, I yell.  Turns out the smell came from one of those new, energy efficient bulbs.  I really don’t like them… why do they smell like burning rubber?  We never had problems with the old light bulbs.  Damn government should have left them the way they were.

I had a lovely visit from our guidance councillor (Nicole) today who made us chili, a caesar salad, and dessert.  She said she was surprised that my kids left the day-care with a total stranger.  I don’t think they would have gone if I hadn’t told them that she was coming though.  Usually they are cling-ons.

I’m coming to the school some time tomorrow to give people back their stuff (DVD’s, cookware, and wigs).  I’ve decided life is much easier being bald and I don’t need anything on my head.  I can’t wait till it gets warmer so I can shock the world.

After all, Bald is Beautiful, y’know.

By the way, here is an interesting tidbit of information I bet you didn’t know.

Believe it or not, when you are bald and you get out of the shower, you only need one towel for your head.  And as long as that’s covered, the rest of you is never cold.  Usually (with long hair) when I get out of the shower, I’m always freaking freezing.  But not now.  And I don’t have to blow dry it or anything.  It’s literally Wash and Wear!

P.S.  Someone phoned me from the Long Term Disability office who assured me that I actually did have some options about returning back to work.  After yesterdays panic attack, I am in dire need of a shrink, I think.  I don’t exactly want to go back to school bald and with no eye brows.

 

Weight On My Chest

January 19

Weight on My Chest

At around 4:00 yesterday afternoon  I started getting worried because I was beginning to have breathing problems again and felt that weird familiar weight on my chest.  I really didn’t want to make a trip to the hospital and was hoping it would go away.   Lucky for me, Andrea and Steve came over shortly thereafter with my kids from the day-care.  Boy was I relieved to see both of them!  I took some children’s Benadryl because that was all I had at home.  It helped a bit.   Steve went out and picked up some adult Benadryl for me at Shoppers Drug Mart.  We had dinner (Thanks Andrea!) and Bobo finally arrived home.

I took the adult Benadryl an hour before I went to bed when I thought the Children’s Benadryl wore off.  It made a huge difference and I was able to sleep soundly last night.  I’m feeling pretty good today.  Frack didn’t make it to day-care this morning.  He was complaining his stomach hurt and he was still grumpy from getting up early yesterday morning.  So I kept him at home this morning.  He has been quietly pitter-pattering around the house drawing on paper.  Right now he is sitting under the computer table with me writing notes.

I phoned ETF to find out more about our Long Term Disability Plan.

I got the distinct impression that unless I’m dead, I will be returning to work on April 5th.

Visitors From N.Y.

January  15

Visitors from N.Y.

My friend Stella and her kids, Elizabeth and Bob came from New York to make me a birthday cake and dinner!  Now that’s what I call service!  We had spaghetti, chicken parmesan, and chocolate cake.  The kids decorated the basement with lots of stuff.  It was fun to see my kids so excited about planning/decorating for  “the Party”.  A most enjoyable day.

January 16

We spent the day watching movies, painting, and Bobo made us a delicious roast beast dinner.

 

January 17

My Birthday!

Everything is A Okay so far!

Just some sore knees and teeth today.

 

January 18

Okay, I have a confession to make about yesterday.

I decided it was stupid to stay home on my birthday and sit on the couch and do nothing.

The chemo hasn’t hit me full force yet, so a celebration was in order.

Bobo and I took the kids (Frick, Frack, Elizabeth and Bob) to Funnelz (an indoor playground with slides) in the morning.  Then we went to a nearby Italian Restaurant.  They changed their menu and all the perks to going to this restaurant were now gone (ie:  toys for the kids, Spin the Wheel for a prize on your birthday, make your own pasta selection, etc.).  The salad didn’t taste that great which surprised me because that’s one of the things I used to love about this place, the pasta sauce didn’t taste right, and neither did the bread and butter.  Now that I think about it, maybe it’s the chemo.  However, Bobo didn’t like his pizza either and he didn’t have chemo.  We then took Stella’s kids back to their Grandparent’s apartment.

My children have been bugging us to go see the movie, ”Alvin and the Chipmunks” since we didn’t get to see it at Christmastime due to the swine flu factor; so I gave in and we went to see it.  When it was over, we headed off home.  My older sister, my mom and dad, and Bobo’s parents arrived at our house to share some birthday cake with us, which one of my sisters made.

And that’s pretty much how I spend my birthday.

I think I found the trick to staying on top of Chemo… don’t stop moving.

My younger sister suggested I take some calcium vitamins to combat my sensitive teeth problem and I think she has hit on something there because I haven’t done that in a long time.  Milk makes me asthmatic so I’ve been staying away from it.  I’ve been drinking mainly hot water with lemon because I know it cleans out your liver.

Today, my joints are still sore… mainly my knees and my hands.  And my nose is so dry; it’s been bleeding.  I’m walking around like a chimp again.

I have no interest in washing the dishes because my hands feel so swollen.  If this is what arthritis feels like, I am definitely not looking forward to old age.  And I’m not looking forward to the “electric shocks” going through my body which, if it’s like the last time, should be coming around again soon.  Hmmm…. do ya think.  Will I be lucky and it won’t happen this time?  Man, I hope so.  Chemo is unpredictable.  You don’t really know what is going to happen day by day .

This has been a humbling experience for me who is used to being very independent and doing everything on my own.  This morning I was thinking about my student who passed away of Neuroblastoma and how she underwent Chemo every three weeks for over a year.  I think I would have been very resentful and psychotic if I had to undergo a treatment for that long.  I am so looking forward to my last treatment.  That’s when my oncology nurse said she will take out that bloody Picc. line so I can finally feel what it’s like to have a real shower again.

 

 

That Was One H*** of a Treatment Today

I did NOT have a good day today.

It first started when we got to the hospital late (8:30).  Bobo drove; my older sister met me there to stay with me and drive me home.  It was very crowded; two or three times as many people as usual.

I opted to see the Doctor because I had very important questions to ask him about body scanners and fake boobies with gel in them which customs officers may try to detonate, and I had about 50 other questions.

Well, I waited 3 hours to get my blood tested, medicine, and all I got to see was a young, wacky Indian resident who thought she knew everything and really didn’t.  She told me I had one more Taxotere treatment after this and then I was going to be referred to a radiologist.

“Wait a minute, you must have me mistaken for someone else”, I told her.  No one ever told me I had to have radiation.  I had a mastectomy and only 2 lymph nodes were involved, and no one said anything about radiation after this.

“Well”, she answered in her prissy voice, “Things change…  we get new protocols every two weeks.”

“How long is that suppose to take because I was told I was suppose to go back to work in April”, I told her.

“You start radiation 6 weeks after your last treatment, and you get radiation every day for 20 – 25 days.”

“She is out of her freaking mind,” I thought to myself.   I asked her many other questions and she gave me quite flippant remarks and rolled her eyeballs at me.

I also asked her to add 4 more steroids with my next treatment because I was short 4 for this one.  But she didn’t listen and didn’t do it when I got my prescription from the nurse later on.

When I saw my oncology nurse, I asked her about radiation and why wasn’t I told before this.  She went and asked the doctor and he said no radiation for me!  So there.  Stupid resident.

I told my nurse I didn’t like the resident and the next time I had any questions, I would ask her instead.

I waited about 2 hours to speak to a nut bar.  Then my nurse tried to find her to get my prescription changed, gave up, and said she wasn’t going to deal because it was too time-consuming and proceeded to find me 4 of the pills for free.  I really like her!

So then my feet and fingers were put on ice.

I was doing okay for a while; it’s only an hour treatment (then a 1 hour wait period) – however I started having a strange, hoarse cough after about 40 minutes.  My oncology nurse went for lunch (at around 2:00) and then I started to have chest pains and breathing problems.

So I called on the nurse who was with another patient and told her I wasn’t feeling quite up to snuff.  She quickly turned off the machine delivering the Taxotere.  She took my blood pressure and it was something like 75 over 90 (not good) and she started looking pretty worried.  Then she gave me a saline drip.

My regular nurse was paged and came back pretty quickly.  My oncologist was at PMH next door and was on his way, and the wacky Indian resident was no where to be found.  Why is it that I am always getting into predicaments like this? Why?  Tell me please.  Oh I know, so I have interesting stories to write about in my blog, of course.

I told my nurse that I did NOT want the resident anywhere near me, so she went looking to see if she could find another doctor because I was having a reaction.  She found someone that she works with on another day at the hospital and he checked my breathing.  It was clear.  Then they kept checking my blood pressure, which eventually started to get back to normal.  I only had 15 minutes left of the Taxotere and my nurse said they would probably continue it later.  She said that it wasn’t the Taxotere I was having a reaction to; it was the one and only solvent they used to mix it up with to get it into the IV.   Apparently about 10% of people react to the solvent, and I’m one of them.  She also said that if I start having chest pains at home, I need to come to the hospital right away.  Last time, I had chest pains at around Day 3 and 4 – that means Sunday/Monday.  I may be calling people for a ride because I have no one at home with me during the day the week.  Anybody available to be my ambulance?  If I turn blue, I guess my local hospital would be the closest one, but my nurse said to try to get to this one because all my records were here and my doctor is on call Monday- Friday.   If I get the weird cough again, I’m suppose to take some Benadryl to try to stop the allergic reaction.  Then I was told I would need to get a chest X-ray before I left the hospital.  If they find anything in my lungs, this will be my last Taxotere treatment.  I wonder what they will do to me then?

Eventually I was put back on the rest of the taxotere, waited an hour for observation, and went for my chest X-ray.

Just after 4:00, I got to my car and What to my Wondrous Eyes Should Appear under my windshield wiper, but a $30.00 Parking Ticket.

My husband put my temporary expired (Dec) handicapped parking sticker on the dashboard and the current one was flipped over to the side with my name on it.  Do I have a leg to stand on if I fight it in court because I really don’t want to pay for it since I do have a valid permit?

My face is flushed and I am not sleepy and it is after 11:00 o’clock.

I really did not have a good day.

P.S.  I am actually not going anywhere for a while.

My oncologist said it wasn’t a good idea to travel to Europe…. at least until the fall.  Bummer

“Better to stay in North America,” he said.  Told me to drive to Washington to the Smithsonian Museum to see the Impressionists Paintings there.

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It’s 3:30 a.m. and I’ve been awake since 2:55.

Went to bed at around 1:00.

So everybody,  WAT’S UP?

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Frack heard me and is calling me.

Gotta go