peep peep poop

Tuesday Mike went out to his friends property to work on training with the dog and got home after I went to sleep. Wednesday I got up to go to work and I found a box on the back porch with a bunch of fuzzy lil ducks in it. “Don’t look too closely” I told myself “they will suck you in!” I identified the critters as baby ducks and didn’t even look long enough to count how many because I was concerned with their ultimate purpose. Were they to be some kind of training tool for the moose? If so, I wanted no part of their cuteness. No sir-re-bob, no part. I was very happy to find out that they were in fact for eggs, and not for the dog but for me.

Some may be confused by this sort of high maintenance gift but not I. Mike has been talking me out of getting chickens for a year at least so this is actually some kind of strange compromise.

I am reading everything online I can find, and am feeding them like crazy since these lil peepers can grow as much as an ounce a day. After letting them run around in the raised garden bed I cant seem to grow anything in, I gave in. They are so stinking cute. Unfortunately any males in the group will still meet a sad but delicious end but at least their short lives will be filled with joy and a crazy bald lady smiling at them. They are pekin ducks. They will be all white and difficult to tell apart so I don’t think naming them is on the bill (ha!) especially not until we figure out who the boys are. Mike has started referring to them susie and the banshees and I kinda find that hilarious.

Some not-all-that-bad-but-incredibly-annoying cancer treatment stuff happened too but I have no desire to talk about that today. Today I just want to talk about ducks.

Image

As if I didn’t already think my doctor was cool

He totally knew Julia child when he was a kid. Not even kidding.

I saw him this morning because I have chemo #5 today- second to last, aw yeah. He is really happy with how it’s going and amazed, yes I said amazed, at how well I am doing. He had to remind me that I am getting a very intense dose of chemo and that being tired is normal and most people’s bodies can be knocked the heck back by the same regimen I am on. He didn’t tell me its’s because I am “super awesome” but I know that’s what he was thinking. My vitals are all good, lungs clear, innards ok and such. My nails are not infected or falling off, thank goodness. My eyes are super watery so he did tell me I should probably stop wearing contacts. The stuff can target the ole eyes and it could cause a blockage in my tear duct that could easily get infected. Fortunately I’m not there yet. I doubt that I can lose the ability to cry. Unfortunately my glasses were purchased shorty after Katrina, a.k.a a lifetime ago. The prescription is wrong and they are scratched all to hell so I need to find the cheapest place to get some new ones. Shouldn’t maxing out credit cards be more fun? When I hear the term “maxed out credit cards” I picture a house full of flat screens, counter tops covered in exotic fruits and dogs with gold grills. I don’t picture cute nerd spectacles from eye masters. Oh well such is life huh? And honestly if you are going through cancer treatment and your life’s worst problems are money related you’re not doing too bad right? I am, as predicted, winning chemo so what’s a little bankruptcy in the grand scheme of things? Too bad though, Darleene would look boss with a gold grill.

A strongly worded letter to my body

Dear body,

I decided I was going to feel better today but apparently friend, you had other plans. You are, overall, doing a pretty good job. I notice that as the treatments progress the length of time that you feel yucko increases but not the intensity and I am ok with that. I like that you are not feeling worse. The thing is though, I have stuff to do. Stuff involves standing and walking and talking and a sliver of motivated energy.

I have to ask, what’s with the lack of dexterity? I don’t have much overall coordination to start out with but my hands were somewhat predictable and now my fingers do not seem to want to do what I tell them to do. I will fight you on this one body. I really liked painting the sign for the food trailer this week and I WILL finish the other side.

Also, do you think your getting clever with this insomnia? You know I love sleep. I am really good at sleep. Why do you wake me up in the middle of the night all hot and sweaty, then make my mind race? Un-cool body. Seriously un-cool. Its not just my sleep you are screwing with either lady, you are messing with the cat’s sleep too. Luckily Mike sleeps like the dead but Hushie Pushie needs to snuggle in close and all that tossing and blanket flipping is giving her a hard time. You know cats need their sleep.

It’s time to tighten this team up. We passed the halfway point and the goal is in sight. We have two weeks of Herceptin and that finishes the 4th cycle. Then 2 more chemo, Herceptin cycles and that phase is finished. That is only 8 more weeks! We got this. So let me take a shower again today, and get some laundry done for Pete’s sake.
Irritated-ly yours,
Lynn

Awesome things about being bald

I have been bald for 2 weeks now and I gotta say… it’s pretty awesome. I discovered my head is good and round, major bonus for hairlessness. I haven’t razor shaved it yet, just no guard clippered it so I still have stubble or “little dots” as one of the kids says, and it feels very nice to pet it. The stubble is getting patchy the closer it gets to my neck but it’s hanging in there at the top so I’m not sure what to do. Subtle stubble mohawk? Probably so.

Other things I love about no hair – when I come in to the AC from the ungodly Texas summer I get an instant chill from the sweat on my head.

I get to sleep with a hat on. (not sure why I like this but I really do).

Everybody smiles at me. It starts out as an ohhhh yikes, wait she saw me looking better smile smile but when they see I’m smiling it turns into a oh good, good for her, give ’em hell lady smile. I like that.

It does not faze the kids. They started out with a lot of questions and now occasionally ask to touch it but overall, just an everyday thing. This may go under the what I love about kids post but for now, here it stays.

Putting a hand towel in the tub with me while bathing and just lying it on my head ggggaaaahhhhhhhh. Water in general feels amazing on a bald scull.

I’ve always liked hats.

Mostly I like to know that I can do wherever the @$&! I want. Swim in the gated pool down the street? I’ve got one boob and a bald head… whose gonna stop me? Go in the 10 items or less lane with 11 items…I dare you to say something. Bring up inappropriately personal information with complete strangers… um I think I’ve always done that, but you get the point.

Sigourney Weaver
Sinead O’Connor
Megan Fox
Demi Moore
Cate Blanchett
Natalie Portman
Britney Spe… Ok Natalie Portman
All hot baldies. Being bald does give me a brief urge to buff up… and the urge is gone, I’ll just buy pretty eye shadow instead.

Chemo round one

I finished the first full round of my regimen! One week with the 3 drugs and two with the 1. For my first infusion I had the best nurse ever. As many times as I have had chemo explained to me in the last 2 months she did it the best. Essentially, what Chemo does is target and kill rapidly growing cells. The cancer is rapidly dividing and reproducing so it is getting targeted and knocked out. Unfortunately, sometimes it also gets OTHER rapidly growing cells like the ones in my mouth, stomach, digestive parts, nails and of corse the infamous ones. . . hair.

Overall I have done pretty well (hands grasped over head and and swung back and forth over ears in victorious fashion). Minor nausea, major exhaustion, and some killer headaches. All in all though, not too shabby. I worked this week, shorter days but still it was nice to work and see the kids and my friends. Exercising makes me feel better but I will admit I am not doing as much as I should/could. I will find a system!

Friday my hair started making a break for it. For the first time in my life I’m cursing the fact that I have so much hair, not in length necessarily, just on my noggin. I’m planning on going chrome dome when it is time and I’m certain I will know in my heart when that time comes but as of now, the handfuls of hair that are left in my hand after I run my fingers through it are making a surprisingly small dent in the forest that graces my melon. I don’t think head shave day is far off though, all this hair on stuff is gross.

Financial stuff is still very much an issue but I’m dealing with it the only way I am able right now- ignoring it. OK I’m not really ignoring it, I’m just sort of applying with any charity organization I can find, watching my statements from the dr, and waiting for the whole thing to go sideways. Interesting side note the insurance got charged 17,600 for one dosage of the 3 chemicals, I do 6 = 105,600 plus 16 doses of just the one 60,000 = 165,600 if I need to pay 20% that means I pay 33,120. Thats just the drugs for THIS part of the treatment, not the labs and office visits. After that I get one drug every 3 weeks for a year plus radiation for 6 weeks plus the hormone suppressive treatments for 5 years and so on and so on and so on. Don’t get sick y’all, serious. Where is my paper bag for breathing into?

Reform Now!

Health wise things are good y’all. I feel fine. All my scans and tests came back clear and I feel healthy, I feel good about myself. I got my teeth cleaned and even that went well. I’m really well healed from the surgery. My arm feels good and I think I’m going to ease into some yoga classes this week. Things feel so normal.

A week from today brings the first round of chemo, my mom will be here and I am so excited to see her. I’m not too scared really. I know the many things chemo may be but I’m not going to know how my body reacts until it is reacting so why get upset about it before the fact while there is so much anger to have for the health care system.

I was informed last week that my health insurance only covers 8 office visits a year. That is not to say all benefits stop after 8 office visits but that they only pay for 8. They assured me my treatments are considered a different benefit and they will cover their 80% but I need a lot of office visits and will still incur a good deal of debt. The billing woman referred me to a social worker to help rile up some more funds and to apply for medicaid. I called and told him my deal. He told me that I am well in the income range for medicaid but because I have some insurance I -catch this- am not eligible for help. So apparently if I had no insurance and everything was the same all my bills would be covered, but because I am underinsured I may need to join the ranks of folks whose medical debt forces them into bankruptcy. Does that make ANY sense? I realize I am probably getting a higher quality of care by having insurance but this system is F-ed.

This bummes me out. I know we are going to do what we have to do to make this happen but it makes me so sad that people have to go through this. What do people with kids do? What about older people living off their retirement? It sucks so bad that sick people in this country can’t just focus on leading their lives and getting well. SUCKS!!!

 

I actually started this post last week and didn’t post it. Its hard for me to be this deep in the money hole. Mike and I started a business last year and like many small business owners we ran it and our home on credit cards. We are so totally f-ed. At this point the medical expenses are laughable. I can’t even pay the bills I have, let alone all that is about to be tacked on. It completely boggles the mind.

I met with the financial help lady at the cancer center and she is trying to fish out some assistance for me. I also have a few numbers for different organizations that may be able to help as well. She let me know dropping my insurance and applying for medicare was an option. She knows I would get it. It would lead to a slew of problems in the future, especially if obamacare is revoked and the pre-exhisting condition bit is gone, but right now. . . all of my costs would be covered. IS THAT NOT SCREWED UP!?!?!? I don’t think I’m going to do it but it boggles the mind that this is our healthcare system. The working poor gets the shaft.

Sorry. I’m ranting. It’s so crushing to have to worry about stupid money at a time like this. My poor little brain cannot process this much information, emotion or worry.

exhale

As mom always says “the good lord will provide” (I translate it as “the universe will provide”  but tuh-mey-toh, tuh-mah-toh why argue semantics). I suppose, once again, I will just have to work hard and hope for the best. Wow, am I from the mid-west or what? 5 days till mom comes- better start cleaning.

One is the loneliest number

Bone scan in- it’s all good. He did print a picture for me and it IS totally awesome. I definitely have a curved spine though- wowsa, how did I make it this far without getting that taken care of, sheesh. When all of this is in the rearview, it’s chiropractor time. It is also not awesome seeing how much “grey area” is around the bones. My, they are well insulated.

Surgeon drained some fluid that was building up near the surgery area, totally normal stuff. That made it feel a lot better actually, took some pressure out of my underarm. He also did something that, turns out I have been putting off more consciously than I thought. He took the rest of the tape stitches off the mastectomy scar…

-cricket, cricket-

I am really pretty emotional about it.

I’m totally taken aback by how emotional I feel about it actually.

It’s not like I didn’t know my breast was gone. I’ve had no problem looking at it, showering, peeling a couple of those tapes off. I guess I didn’t realize those last few little pieces of semitransparent sticky tape were in some way separating me from the reality of it. The tapes were the reminders that I recently had surgery and that medical stuff was happening and it is a transitory phase of some kind and whatnot. Now that they’re gone it’s just me…and a big ass scar. And I look at it and every bit of reason and logic is gone and every grounding thought I can usually find has left my brain and I’m just … really sad.

Then I get mad because I know this is normal, I have read the books, I have heard the ladies use the phrase “mourning the breast” but I’m mad because I, foolishly thought I was cooler than that. I’ve never been particularly emotionally attached to to the things. I don’t equate them with my womanhood or my beauty. To be quite honest they are kind of a pain and I thought my super awesome attitude would somehow protect me from have to go through the trouble of “mourning the breast”.

Turns out, not so much. Bitch.

All the annoyances and frustration of being 100% asymmetrical came crashing down on my poor little sleepy head. My lack of control of this situation drew out my lack of control of so many others situations and made my blood boil and my tears flow.

Getting all this out is helping them dry up and I just filled up my sweet new water bottle Kellie gave me so I won’t get dehydrated. Logic, sense and composure are starting to roll in in waves. And there is a very good chance I will go right to sleep.

Finals

I title my post thusly ‘cuz I have a million tests this week.

When we last spoke I was awaiting the results of my lymph node biopsies. The surgeons hunch was unfortunately correct, many of my nodes were positive for cancer. 5 of 8. What does this mean, you ask? It means the cancer is more aggressive then previously believed. It means my staging is now classified as 2 (still early). It means I will need radiation after chemo. It also means those sneaky lil cells could be hiding out somewhere in my body like the dirty squatters they are. My oncologist thinks it is highly UNlikely that they have set up camp anywhere but we need to check anyway.

Today I had a bone scan- nailed it. A quick shot of nuclear medicine in a vein (which is no longer easy to find as all the “good ones” are in my newly “off limits” arm), then come back 3 hours later and have a very still lay down while a square thingy slowly scans me front and back. I peaked over at the technician’s screen after it was done scanning but before I was allowed to get off the table and caught a glimpse of my skeleton, so freekin cool, I really hope I can have a copy of the picture, who wouldn’t want to have a picture of their bones.

Tomorrow I have a second follow up with the surgeon. The first one, last week, went really well and I am anticipating more of the same. I have been doing my exercises and taking it easy when my body tells me to, drinking lots of water and taking my vitamins. I interoperated his “let the tape stitches fall off when they are ready” as -peel them off in the shower as they get raggedy looking and don’t hurt as I do so, they are almost all off.

I also have a CT scan of my chest and abdomen this week. Drink the goo, don’t eat, more scanning.

I meet with the oncology nurse and learn all the fun things I need to know about chemo and herceptin and never wanted to ask. Later I have the same kind of meeting with the radiologist. Then wait.

First round of chemo is anticipated to be May 24th- it will be a long one as they monitor my body to check its reactions to the stuff. Then I go back every week for 18 weeks. Every week I get herceptin (a targeted therapy for Her2 positive cancer) and every 3 weeks the chemo a combination of taxotere (which stops those cells from dividing and multiplying) and Carboplatin (made from platinum atoms which knock those succas out). While I was out for the surgery the doctors implanted a port on the right side of my chest. It is under my skin and gives the doctors direct access to a vein for all these treatments. And away we go. I plan on winning chemo the way I am winning surgery recovery because that’s how I roll.

I worked for a bit this morning and was so happy to see those muchkins. I got many hugs and professions of love and am looking forward to being back there every day. They are amazing vessels of joy and they crack me up. I start chemo the same weekend of graduation so my mom will be here to be with me for both. I can tell you right now I will only be crying at one of them and its not going to be in the infusion room y’all. It is going to be in the oak shaded play yard where I have watched lil cuties grow, mature and play for the last year. Where they have learned their words and how to use them, where they have scrapped their knees and elbows and most importantly where they have found their friends and their voices. Did I mention I love my job?

Surgery

Nothing ever seems to turn out like you think it’s going to. I’m learning, slowly to accept this.

Part of the plan with the mastectomy was to find and biopsy the sentinel lymph node (the one closest to the tumor?/ most likely to have been cancer-a-nated). When the surgeon removed the sentinel node he “didn’t like the looks of it”. It was very hard and was quickly tested and proved to be positive for cancer. He explored the other nodes and didn’t like the way they look either so he took him out as well. I will know those results tomorrow, but his experienced opinion is leaning toward positive. Even he is hoping, as we all are, that he is wrong but this is not his first rodeo. If I have four positive nodes I will need to undergo radiation (super hero building block, eh? eh?) The radiation affects the skin and tissue and could change the implant and all kinds of other bad stuff so the general surgeon postponed the reconstruction (totally what I would have chosen
had I been awake to make the choice by the way. Yay dr. G!).

Oh well. There goes that plan. Maybe it’s the high level narcotics talking but – wherever dude. So I need to add another step to operation ass kick, oh well.

The tear summoning part is not being able to make any plans for a while. What will I be doing next month? Beating cancer. In July? Same. September? Probably still kicking ass. I like my job and want to go there. I would like to see everyone I love. I would like to go have a big ole Nola benefit blowout. And I will. I just don’t get to know when and that is frustrating. I like being in control! So I’ll take a deep breath and let things come as they may. “one step at a time” as mom says. I need to continue Preparing for what is right in front of me, take care of it, recover, repeat.

I’m not being wise – I just don’t have another choice. Forced wisdom.

Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.

So as not to be completely cheesy I will admit I read this zen proverb on a bottle of kombucha but it’s a good ‘en as beverage bottle quotes go.

Benifit

Wow the Olive Tree (my workplace) folks can really throw a party.

Parents, Teachers and friends donated an insane amount of goods to get auctioned off, played music and passed some nicely decorated buckets. We laughed, we cried- especially when contributions came from some special lil ones’ piggy banks, we drank a good amount of beer, we ate crawfish and I got a bit more sun than I was prepared for so forgive me if I ramble. I can’t believe the amount of love and encouraging words that came my way today. Grateful doesn’t begin to express how I feel.

I am thankful for the bucks of course, its so nice to have less to worry about in that area. I promise to spend the money like any good Honky Tonk angel would- prescription pills and plastic surgery. I am even more thankful for the positive thoughts and kindness. I hope everyone knows how much it means to me to have such a big support system. It makes me feel much more brave going into this with all these wonderful people behind me.

THANK YOU!!!!