Saturday, August 20, 2011

Noggin Art and 3 year old Me

My BFF, Erin, was here right after my last treatment.  She left her busy life (she is a mom, a teacher about to start back to school, just moved and a wife - super busy life if you ask me) to come and sit with me while I was coming out of the poo poo days. I have known Erin for 25 years and she still loves me just like I am.  Bald, fat and flat!  And, she may be one of my biggest supporters, other than my mom.  I love her and am so grateful for her visit.

The other thing you should know about Erin is that she is super creative.  When she was pregnant, she painted her belly with body paint and it was so cool.  So we decided to do the same thing with my noggin.
Fun with wigs.

If you have seen me during this whole thing, you know I had some freaky yellow hairs that grew after I lost my hair.  Turns out this happens to most people who get chemo - I call it chemo hair.  I HATED THE CHEMO HAIR.  I think it just made me look sick and so I felt sick.  After this last treatment I was thinking how much I just wanted to shave my damn head and get rid of the chemo hairs.  But the docs didn't want me to shave it for fear of nicks that could get infected.

Shiny cue ball.
Well, while in the shower, I took a look at my intuition shaver and just said eff it and shaved my little noggin.  And friends, it was liberating!  I got out of the shower and I of course had missed large spots, but wow!  Its what I wanted this whole time!  A cue ball soft and smooth noggin!

Smooth as a baby's butt.
This is the first time I felt happiness, deep down pure happiness, in many many many months.

It was a perfect canvas for Erin's noggin art!  This art was done with washable body paint crayons we got from AC Moore.  Did you know that you could get body paint crayons?  Me neither.

Here are some photos of her work.  I loved it and it was pretty fun and relaxing.  I highly recommend this activity to anyone going through this process.  There may or may not be a hidden message.  Can you tell what it says?
Earrings from pal Nelly.
Pretty cool, huh?
Plant "hair".
Do you see the message?
Noggin art went out to dinner.

We took my painted noggin out to dinner and got lots of stares and a few compliments.  It deserved much more attention, but I was still in poo poo days, so we didn't do much more.

Noggin art was awesome.  Erin is awesome.  I felt awesome.

Until this past week.

I am trying to make small shifts towards better health.  Trying to not to be like I am with all or nothing thinking.  So went for walks with friends and even went back to Pilates.  Turns out I'm not as unfit as I thought.  Sure, I can't do what I used to, but I was actually able to walk quite a distance and even do the whole loop at Duke trail AND do an upside down push up (my nemesis) at Pilates.  Not bad for going from 3 months of just about no activity.  At all - like sitting in the recliner all day.

However, I got really really tired in the middle of the week.  I think maybe I overdid my activity.  And then I got really emotional.  I mean like the super duper whopper doody doo sad.

I am sad that I have gained so much weight.  I am sad that my cholesterol has increased so much so that they have doubled my medication.  I am sad that I lost my breasts.  I am sad that I worked so hard to lose so much weight and I have put much of it back on.  I am sad that I worked so hard to be fit and strong and am no longer fit and strong.  I am sad that my entire life has been disrupted.  I am sad that I have to worry about my cancer coming back.  I am sad that I no longer have the option to have my own children.  I am sad that my body as I've known it is no longer.

I feel like a failure.  I feel like I did not at all do my best.

No wonder I was so sad.  Plus I am chemopause so no telling what is going on with my hormones.

I fight tears so hard.  I feel embarrassed if I cry.  I call it exploding.  But damnit, things are sad right now.  Who wouldn't be sad?

I exploded on Mom, I exploded on friends, and I exploded on my acupuncturist.

My acupuncturist asked me what I would tell the 3 year old version of myself if she were telling me these things.  I had no idea.  I think this is kooky.  But when she left me to rest with all my needles in, out came 85 thousand years worth of tears and it came to me what I would tell 3 year old me.

I would tell her that it is sad that your body is no longer the same.  It is a loss and is something to grieve and be sad about.  I would tell her that just making it through treatment should be considered success - no matter how you got through it (in my case it was with the help from my pals cake and pizza).  I even patted the pillow I was laying on to comfort this 3 year old me.  HOLY KOOKY BATMAN.  I guess those voodoo needles brought out the kookiness the therapists always want me to believe in.

I felt such relief after this acupuncture session.  Tears are healing and I wish I wouldn't fight them so much.  Who knew I could be in touch with 3 year old Melinda?  KOOKY DOODLE DOO!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chemo can Suck it - Chemo #4

Hey Chemo - SUCK IT!

Chemo Sucks.  True Dat Yo.
Button from pal Alison G.
Chemo #4 has come and gone and I have to do it exactly NO MORE TIMES!

I cannot tell you the difference that this makes in how I feel and my overall disposition. I feel so much better!  Yeah, sure, chemo #4 shot me down and I had my bad days, but now when I start feeling better I can build on that.  Momentum baby!

Pink Power bracelet from
pal Sue Dangle
During treatment, I was getting worse (physically and emotionally) with each one and I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I knew it was going to just get worse.  I was just going to keep getting knocked down so what was the point trying to feel better?  In my mind, I kept comparing it to being beaten or abused.  You get knocked down enough you just feel like this is your fate and you submit to it.  Its hard to get out of that cycle.  I really don't know how people go through more treatments.  I guess you just do what you have to do - but holy hannah, 4 treatments did a real number on me.

This is my funny shirt from pal Allison B.
All the nurses got a kick out of it.
Did you know that 6 treatments is the standard for the regimen I was getting?  When we first started treatment, I asked why we weren't doing the standard 6 treatments.  My doc said that they had found similar effectiveness with just 4 treatments.  This is a benefit of going to a place like Duke.  Had I gone to small town USA docs, they would probably just treat with the standard.  My BFF, Erin, believes every thing happens for reason - we talked about this during her recent visit.  I'm not sure I believe this - but maybe I ended up in Durham so I could go to Duke so that I only had to get 4 treatments.  Yay smart, educated and aware Duke docs!

The other thing that made a difference this time is that my momma was here again.  My Mom is the best Mom there is and at the last minute got on a plane and came here all the way from Texas to take care of me.  And to let Tboz in and out and in and out and in and out....good gracious that dog was almost hurt during the last treatment.  She was really getting on my last nerve with the in out in out in out all day.  I love her, but this is really hard to tolerate when you feel like you can't get off the damn couch.

My Momma
Anywho - I am grateful that my Mom could be with me and I really enjoy her company, even when we just sit there.

So to wrap up my chemotherapy experience - it totally sucks, but it is doable.  Side effects are totally manageable and not at all as it is portrayed on TV (at least for my regimen).

Today is Day 9 post treatment #4.  Day 10 is the day my blood counts are lowest.  Once I get past Day 10, I will declare myself a winner winner chicken dinner and will no longer allow myself to feel like a victim of this stupid disease.  From now on, I have more control of how I treat this disease.  There is certainly still more to come, but I am not going to get my ass kicked trying to treat it.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Steroid induced insomnia

I take steroids the day before treatment because they think I am allergic to the Taxotere. Steroids are nasty little hormones and they make me stay up and buy stupid infomercial things. But tonight, I am reading all of my posts and all of your comments.

Things I noticed:
- reading your comments make me all teary and grateful for all of the kindness and support I have received through all of this. Thank you. Sincerely.
- I was so positive in the beginning. What happened?

Final Chemo in about 12 hours!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hot Flashes are no bueno

Oh yeah, I forgot chemopause brings hot flashes.  Thanks hot flashes for keeping me from sleeping and then waking me up.  Oh yeah, its great that you come visit when its 100 freaking degrees outside.  My head sweats.  Its weird and uncomfortable.

And then I also forgot the taxotears.  I read about them but had yet to experience them.  Basically that your eyes water alot when you are getting taxotere (one of my chemo drugs).  Its true.  It happens and people call them taxotears.  I woke up today with lots of stuff in my eyes.  Where I come from its called eye boogers.  Ewwww.

Weird, huh?

Sharing is fun!