Archive for September, 2011

The Big Shearing….

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I have dreaded the hair loss more than anything. Genuine grieving and anticipating great thrashing about when it happened. So my head did in fact tingle and the next thing I knew, just like the Red Chemo book said, i was finding lots of hair on my pillow. Yuck. But the big turning point for me was just when it really did come out in handfuls. I mean that is very damned creepy. All I could imagine was a mange look. So I called Edward as I mentioned earlier. Len took me in Monday and it was just fine. Edward and his friend Chuck were there and Holly too. I didn’t feel at all exposed. I just said when I walked in, “I’m gonna be cryin’ here pretty soon.” BUT I didn’t. The fact is this was realllllllly the smart thing to do. I controlled it and it was some how liberating to have it done with. Yes, I have an egg shaped head and yes, I really do look like the guy in the Six Flags and Dr. Pepper commercial. I must learn to dance like him.

First Edward shaved it with a #3 guide on the clippers. He asked me if I was ready and oh yes I wanted it done and fast. So buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, off it went. Then he did the #1 guide with the clippers. It is about 1/16th of an inch long. I look just like my brother and he looks just like my Grandpa. He says I look just like Daddy. He never knew Grandpa. DSC00300.jpg

Len did a great job of chronicling the drama, I think. Honestly I am not crying in the 2nd photo….although I did cry at the end because I was so touched by Edward’s kindness and sensitivity. He did it all with so much dignity. Thank you sweet man. The last photo was before he braided my favorite, trashy girl wig and sent me off into the world liberated. Since I won’t be able to get my hair colored for probably months he said we can just go to lunch. I will miss him sorely, if not.

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DSC00358.jpg Now here is the rest of the story: Taking a shower with no hair feels verrrrrrrrrrrry, verrrrrry cool. Almost kinky cool. I may never go back to tresses. I wore the short wig during a walk day before yesterday and it gets pretty darned sweaty under there. I took it off and threw it in the back seat and it looked like a wet, long-haired nutria…and probably smelled like one too. The long and short of it is some times I wear it in a scarf like I think Grace Kelly would want me to wear it and then a big hat on top. And some times I just wear my new hooligan look as I did at Mah Jongg on Tuesday. That’s the story on hair or the lack there of.DSC07293.JPG

Yikes I am loosing Momentum

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2011 by drycreekherbs

The first week after chemo was a blur….in retrospect not awful but not good. I slept too much and I was jittery-nuts from the stinkin’steroids. Tomorrow I am going to ask Dr. R if I really need that much. Please God, not more. I cried all one Sunday afternoon for no apparent reason except I felt like I had the flu but I didn’t. Then I was furious with myself for being whiny. And yes every day I felt better. My hair did start coming out and I didn’t like it one bit. Very spooky weird. I called Edward and he told me to come in Monday and he would meet me at the salon even though closed…privacy. Very thoughtful.

So I am going to hit the highlights as I began to feel better. I think I said earlier that Foy drove down last Wednesday and took me to lunch. I can’t remember how long it has been since we laughed so much. It was just the kind of purge I love. And although I know I said this in another entry–Foy always comes through and I love him for it.

Saturday night we went to Christ Church’s supper club at Susan and Bill’s house. It was great to be out with such nice people and I drank almost a bottle of prosecco…amazing since I have had no interest in alcohol…I also wore my wig…the long one.

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Then my sister in law brought my Mom up to see me…actually Brother Bill came too which was a surprise and nice–I just wasn’t expecting him. I KNOW my Mom and knew she would be lookin’ for any little thing to worry over. So I made myself up like a Coopie Doll with lots of jewelry. She reminded me of a mother cat who leaves the litter then comes back and has to give the kittens a big goin’ over because somebody might have touched one. She was like that. I got a real goin’ over! THis trip was huge. She turned 90 the day after and in no way is travel easy for her. Very difficult in fact. BUt she kept saying, she just wanted to see for herself that I really was ok. It was good.

Billy provided fabulous comic relief when he donned one of my wigs. I really thought Mother might die laughing. It was perfect. Then as I showed her my new fedora and she was smitten. Quite a 90th birthday portrait I think. She has always loved a hat. She is beautiful inside and out. The single constant in my life has been my Mom. I adore her and get weepy stupid when I think of her.

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OK I Was in a Huff.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Here is how lucky I am: I have friends who don’t mind a bit letting me know when I am off the mark. I barely have to ask. So, I was wrong and I am a twit on occasion. Tell everyone you think might want to read my nonsense. I should be flattered that someone or anyone would read it. And as pointed out to me, it is on the internet so it is public. But you can be sure I will think before I write…really that isn’t true. My Mom’s favorite thing to say to me all my life — “Think before you speak!” It didn’t really take.

I am wearing a little fleece cap to bed now. I really want to write about my Mom’s visit and the great shearing saga but it is late and I can’t wait to finish State of Wonder.

I am not in a huff.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I love the posse and my friends who I share this site with. Last week I think I wrote that I hand selected who I give it out to….Ok….no beating around the bush. Please ask me before you pass my journal site on. I am 99% certain I will cheerfuly say , “Yes!” but pleeeeeeeeease ask me first. I had 5 separate episodes this very week where I learned that the site had been given out. Two times it really wasn’t ok with me but there you have it. Knowing how public the internet is, there really is no guarantee of privacy….still most people don’t just stumble on to it. I did have one very nice woman who did stumble on to it and she asked me if she could give the site to her friend with breast cancer. It is my journal and it is my bald head that will be in the next entry and it is sort of like having your picture taken in your underwear. Enough said.

Today’s Entry: Do Not Disburb and Mad Dog Rantings

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2011 by drycreekherbs

1202989601_f.jpgThis is a forewarning that the following I am posting is for me, me, me and my therapeutic journey. I hope IF someone reads this they will just realize during this entry, I am not interested in encouragement, loving advice, the power of positivity, stories about Ghandi or other superheroes, etc. It is unlikely I would starve myself for the greater good. I would save a child, an old person, or critter from getting run over. That may be where it ends. A long time ago I decided to share this space with people I hand selected that might find it curious or entertaining. Little anecdotes, travel lore, exceptional photos of me not looking my age and so on. And, at the end of every year I publish into a book…my diary.

Somewhere in the archives– I wrote about occassional dark thoughts but I never did write any and I have no interest in revealing a BIG SCOOP. I mean I have some secrets (mostly high school misadventures) and setting myself up for judgement, pity, and ridicule by barring my complete soul just isn’t gonna happen. Most anyone who reads this knows I am rich in character flaws. The Preamble continues: I am a Miss Malapropism, always using words incorrectly but kinda similar; I never met a punctuation mark I thought needed to rule supreme; and hmmmmmm, oh yes, in general, I am factually incorrect most of the time. Whew that felt good. So if I see myself really getting odd(er) and thinking I can’t cleanse my mental/emotional palate, I will yank this journal right out of cyberspace or leave this one and start another…called the Abyss. Damn, I am on a roll.

Ok, so why am I ranting? I have almost forgotten. Since the first chemo treatment these things have happened.

1. I have felt pretty good, wretched, discombobulated, and emotionally numb. Now let me make this absolutely, 100% clear. I have not one doubt that this is going to be just fine. I won’t die of cancer. It was, just for the record, always been the one thing that scared me —-less most of my life. So I have it. I think it is important to say this because I DO have a very good attitude about cancer. I had a pretty good week. Sunday, I came home, sat on the chaise here on the screened in porch, and wept for hours without any reason what so ever…well, I did at some point feel like I had swine flu with no symptoms. I mean it was an out of body weirdness. Thank you God, that passed. To Len’s amazing credit, he would come out every hour or so to make sure I hadn’t thrashed myself to death. He IS sensitive.

2. YIKES…..there must be 30 coyotes just beyond the trees having howlin’ fits. Len is herding in the cats.

3. I am walking pretty routinely again. I haven’t exceed 3 miles most days….one day 5. I have lost maybe 2 pounds but it is because my mouth feels like I have been suckin’ on a penny.

4. Things I loooooove: Blue Moon Beer, over ice, and diluted with water by half. This is my all time favorite, thirst quenching drink ever…best guzzled in the morning! I also love Souper Salad so I can eat what I want and not too much. I sometimes just have to have a fried egg sandwich! Tonight I had a very tasty sandwich–peanut butter & honey, chocolate sprinkles, sliced bananas, and walnut pcs. I am particularly interested in trying this grilled…Babs says panini makers are awesome…I will get one. i eat vegetables and fruit every day.

5. I also looooooove my posse and family. They are incredibly smart to look or ask the right questions before launching into almost any here’s how I can help you….I am incredibly good about telling people what I want and don’t want!

6. This is BIG: Yesterday I went to a Look Good…Feel Better program at Seton Northwest Hospital in Austin. Kandy at the wig shop hooked me up with them….it was such a healthy experience. Four other women. Two older and I….one of them a tough cookie who has cancer again for the third time. Two younger women…one maybe 34 a stay at home mom, the other a 20ish exquisite Indian woman. It was all about make up and they give you very high end cosmetics and show you how to apply them. Now keeping in mind, I am painted woman, and I learned a few tricks. But I learned so much more about what the American Cancer Society can and will do for you. It is fabulous. Cleaning, gas money, cooking, rides to appts, wigs, etc. I am not even touching it. Here is what I needed and got. I got to be around ‘girls’ learning about make up and not sharing stories too much. I needed to be around them because I didn’t know them, I won’t get to know them, and they were enormously comforting without any reason….and a real good kick in the butt for me.

7. My braid wig is cool.

8. Every day I wake up different and with a different side effect. Today I am covered in a rash but I feel awesome. Cassandra, Dr. R’s nurse said to call her tomorrow if it gets worse.

9. I went to see the Debt today. i reeeeeeeallly liked it.

10. In 13 days, this is the 2nd I haven’t slept like the dead for a couple of hours during the day.

11. My scalp is tingling…they say that is the beginning of hair loss. I have cute scarves and directions on making cool turbans but-not— out of t shirts. Kinda Grace Kelly looking.

12, I am done.

Fixed Entry: Two Shocky Filled Days–Treatment and Buying Wigs!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Darn, drat, and damn. I spent nearly four hours doing this entry yesterday….In my opinion, it was so perfectly clear and linear….a total representation of how I felt. I smugly published it and it went into cyberspace and I didn’t even know I lost most of it. I called Mom and I couldn’t understand why she seemed not to acknowledge the photos etc. They weren’t there. So I have been able to more or less find the text but I will need to piddle around with this entry for more hours than I need to. I think I really am getting Munchhausen. Everything in my mind is about this mean-assed cancer. OK. I am starting over…It isn’t really sequential any more but this is how it began.

PREAMBLE: This is the email, plus more me-isms that I sent to my ’39 most intimate friends.’ The photos are sort of my photo documentary until I start looking really haggard then I will use old glamour shots!

This is an extended version of what happened starting on Thursday. I made a call to my Nurse Navigator late Wednesday and discovered there might have been a little slip up getting me in. Grrrrrrrrr. Hells-bells, I have cancer, I want in immediately. OK, already. So, the past few days have been very wild in my head, at least. Some who might actually read this will find it to be waaaay too much information so I say just do a quick scan and I won’t be in the least bit offended…..others of you loooooove details and want more….so it is really hard to get it right and maybe pretty darned egocentric to think you want to know any of it, for that matter. Yikes, a lot of pressure, huh? Mary K, who is my Queen of Analogies, says I do not have to apologize for anything as this is MY OPERA. She IS brilliant. Not only is it my opera, but I am the diva about to do one great aria! Santa Fe Opera Company here I come!IMG_1848.jpg

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Here is the scoop: Thursday was the big learn-all/decision day. I took a fast, firm choice for chemo because, Of COURSE, the expensive test which is designed to tell you exactly what to do put me right in the stinkin’ middle of the undecided zone…I had no intention of equivocating so I said, “Let’s roll!” Dr. Rudd agreed and I went for my first chemo treatment within an hour I think–before I could change my mind. Admittedly, it was an emotional roller coaster for me because of the guaranteed hair loss and just knowing I am signing up for some poison but for the greater good.

I am a tough bird and will do just fine. Len, Susan Lawson, and Nurse Navigator are in charge of listening to major stuff. I am getting my Aggie War Hymn tape ready to help me steel the way…I used it when I was working on my doctorate and I do believe it did the trick. I am so so so so glad to be doing something in terms of treatment and the right thing for me. Len is a Prince among Men.

These are the facts:
1. I have three more treatments–one every 21 days…the actual treatment is a nice cocktail of a fine, fine sedative given with the chemo drugs.

2. All sorts of things have to be considered during these 12 weeks. Mainly I have to be vigilant about fevers. If I get one of 100.5, I go straight to the hospital during week days–I call Cassandra, the oncology nurse, right away – -and straight to the office or the ER on the weekend or holidays and bump to the head of the line, so to speak, explaining I am taking chemo. I hope I never find out about that.

3. I have to drink truck loads of water because I must be kind of dehydrated and they had a bit of a time getting the teeeeeny, no-pain needles in my rolling veins. I was so internally fweaked that my blood pressure was high and that didn’t help. Fluids will puff those veins up. The nice sedative brought the blood pressure down.

4. There is some lab work done the day before each round of chemo so they can watch my white cells. I need to avoid contagions…guess Mexico is out for DOD! That breaks my heart.

5. I will need to eat by the clock to make sure I don’t lose weight; it might be necessary to eat with plastic utensils if I get a metal taste in my mouth.

6. Very nice Chemo treatment area and if I am lucky I can get a window seat that is verrrrrrrrry relaxing. They have internet and good TV; the RNs are adorable and perfectly suited to their work. There is a brass bell I get to ring when I get I my last treatment. Seems liberating.

7. They say the sicky stuff is easy to regulate…we will see. I think I will be ok. I can and will walk for exercise and rip-roar through each day. This really is just a speed bump.

Love- Suz

PS. I’m still wearing a flower for each hospital visit and carrying a pink umbrella (as an optimist for me and rain.)

PSS. OH- I forgot this part. I am going to get lessons on self-hypnosis–expect me to always be in a very zenny zone!

PSSS. Thanks you for your encouragement!!!!

PSSSS. Len and Susan Lawson, my rocks, were with me during the treatment….I don’t need a port so it was pretty straight forward. I am a pretty upfront gal when it comes to courage….I don’t know that I have any–so I asked Dr. Rudd for just a wee bit of something to take the edge off…..it worked great. Absolutely no thrashing about! It takes about an hour and a half…..no discomfort. All will be well in the end, according to Julian of Norwich, but just some inconvenience and discomfort–cognitively-chemo brain which I have probably had for years from wine; socially and emotionally–being bald or at least with funny hair with possibly no eye brows or lashes. Remember all, I am happily vain. I love girly make up and hair care.

Precious and dear Jackie went with me to see Edward, friend and stylist extraordinaire, in Austin on Friday. Although it was the regular color day, he did a cropping! I only had two minor melt downs…mainly because everyone was sooo darned good to me. There were some funny moments like Jackie reading to Edward from the Chemo Manual about how to care for my hair. He was a hero. He did a ‘Bob cut’ and will shave the rest off when it starts to come out in a couple of weeks. He said I could come to his house and he would buzz cut the rest and provide Mexican Martinis. This could work.
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DSC07244.JPGDSC07248.jpgAfter lunch we went to Steinmart for big earrings then to the wig shop. A very nice and helpful woman helped me with wigs, eye brows, scarves, chin straps, nets, turbans, you name it. I bought two synthetic wigs…both kinda trashy looking which appeal to me, of course. I am crazy for the real long one that I can braid, even with the tags hanging off like Minnie Pearl. Edward says that human hair looks much better but it has to be cleaned every week or so and probably colored so it won’t look flat. Also human hair wigs have to be styled every day. I don’t know and right now I am tired of me and tired of cancer so I am going to stick these photos in and quit!

Nice people want to tell me they reeeeeeally like my new hair cut–I will have it a week or two at the most before it is gone. I get kinda bristly because I think they (Damnit, I am 64 and I still care what they think.) are saying they like it better and I don’t care about that now. I care that my hair is about to be gone and not by choice. Carol says, “It is what it is.” I want to have a drink and go do a mean tango with a tall, dark, and handsome and swarthy devil….maybe Edward will cooperate!

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Whooooa….what happened to the rest of my entry from earlier today?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 by drycreekherbs

What about all the wig photos? Damn. Will have to redo it all tomorrow. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. I am testy.

Road Trip to Santa Fe

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2011 by drycreekherbs

It can be a pretty long ride to Santa Fe….going as far as Lubbock was easy and the next morning we met precious Lou Ann in DSC00038.jpgPlainview for breakfast. She has known me since I was 10 years old….We had so many laughs in an hour and a half….very, very good…I don’t know what was so funny but it was invigorating. She sent us off with a bag of fabulous cookies which we devoured before we made it to Halfway, TX!

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The ride from Plainview to Santa Fe is pretty desolate. If I drive here by myself I will go up to Amarillo and take IH 40 on into Santa Fe.

Our rental is great, the same one Babs, Belinda and I had last year. I could live in this house. It is only a 10 minute walk to the Plaza and very comfortable. Sadly it is only available by the week not the month. I have found a little studio that Len and I will look at this afternoon. I think it may be smaller than I want though.

OK, back to the story. What have we been doing? We have had a LOT of together time and it is now important to have some time out. We had a fun outing at 10,000 Waves Japanese Spa…complete package included a very spiffy private hot and cold tub with sauna, followed by a same-room extreme hot oil head and neck rub, therapeutic massage, and finally a salt glow rub. I have never been so soft! We did enjoy that….I was worried if Len could do it for more than one reason….a little too Zen and also he had a major fall while riding his bike the morning of the spa. His arm looks like hamburger meat and he will have major bruising. But he toughed it out even during the salt rub. Although I did overhear his therapist ask how the salt rub felt, meaning is this good. He replied, “It feels like sandpaper.”

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DSC00148.JPGMainly we have been sightseeing and geocaching the Santa Fe Visitor Center’s Sparrow Route..designed to get you all over town and to see some of the hot spots. The ‘passport’ gives the coordinates and pretty vague clues. You use either a GPS designed for geocaching or an Iphone app…that’s what we used. The app is ok, I think we will buy a real device if we continue this. Len and I did pretty well with this. No fist fights, anyway! He is better, of course, at understanding the app. I. on the other hand, have an intuitive sense of direction. Anyway, after you find the location you go in and ask them to stamp your passport. After completing all 8 spots the Convention Center validates the passport and a prize is given! Not a trip to Europe….It is a year long free cultural pass…to all museums and events. So I will just have to come back.

What else….Len has played golf at the Black Mesa course recommended by Sally and Dick H. but since the big bike crash he won’t be able to play any more this trip so he will be back on his bike tomorrow for renewal. He plans a 30 mile ride in the hills. I told him NOT to fall or get hurt. Or dehydrated. Or run over. Or, etc. etc.

Today at breakfast at the Santa Fe Bakery I saw my brother’s Doppelgänger. After looking at this photo look at this photo then the others, it is clear they are doubles. Even this guy’s parents agreed. He asked me if my brother was also wanted by the FBI…I said, “Surely.” The Santa Fe Stranger is the guy with a bandana around his neck. In my old age, I may get confused!
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DSC07192.jpg A Few Days LaterIMG_1831.jpg
We are home safe and sound. We ended up staying an extra day at the house…it was a good decision, too. Len did another bike ride without incident and I had a glorious, glorious time at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. Oh, how I loved that place. I enjoyed tasty baked items, kissed puppies of unknown heritage, and I swear, inhaled second hand pot! Free, free spirits! Oh, and I sampled YAK chili! I mean, the animal YAK not yam. Later on Saturday, Len and I went to an arts and crafts show on the plaza and ran into folks from our church! Small, small world as Babs would say. DSC00243.jpg
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We left Sunday to go home via Hatch, NM for the Hatch Chili Festival. It was very much like the Belton 4th of July Parade. Very small town and sweet. We bought roasted chiles and took photos. I think chili or chile is misspelled. Oh well. From Hatch we drove on to Fort Stockton–at this point Len was just a wee bit ready to be home. Too much of me might just be more than even a tough man can take.
DSC00158.jpg It was a good trip. We had lovely meals at The Shed, El Farol, Andiamo, Harry’s Road House, and take out from my favorite-ever grocery store, Trader Joe’s. I did in fact forget all that has been looming over my head. But now I am home. I found out today that tomorrow at 8:00 I see Dr. R about the results of the Ocontype text. I am grumpy. I had to call the hospital and learn that he was going to be gone next week. When I told my Nurse Navigator that it made me nuts she checked and I guess the results have been in….for how long I don’t know. I will check it out tomorrow. Grrrrr. I just have to make this work. I have been humming the Aggie War Hymn. It got me through my doctoral program, it will get me through stinkin’ cancer.

The Belvedere Motel on Austin Highway

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Belvedere Motel.jpgIn 1957 my Dad was transferred to Randolph AFB from Scott AFB in Illinois. When we arrived in San Antonio, Wherry Housing was unavailable–in other words, no ‘Quarters’ were ready so we stayed at the Belvedere Motel on the Austin Highway. That was 53 years ago. I was 11 years-old and I guess needy and perceived, in my limited way, that I was pitifully stunted emotionally because we had to move once again and although I had prayed hard for a baby sister, instead I got a baby brother. Pretty darned disappointing for about 40 years…but I like/love him a lot now. OK, back to the story. It was very hot and Mom and Dad encouraged swimming most of the day…this had to have something to do with having an 11 year-old and a 6 month old in a cramped motel room. So I hung out at the pool all day. I am pretty sure I was supervised, but then in those days children weren’t stolen or if they were I wasn’t in harm’s way.

For hours I swam in the pool just underneath the verrrrrrrrrry beautiful neon sign…a woman diving into the pool…she wore a one piece bathing suit and a bathing cap. I have searched the internet for hours to find this postcard of the motel and of the neon sign. It was so glamourous and grabbed my 11 year-old’s attention from the get go. This was a fiiiiiiine place. Probably the genesis of my love for hotels. Should have been a hooker, I guess! I digress again. So for hours and hours I was in that pool, swimming most of the time under water since I never could swim on top. There was a pretty youngish woman who was also there most of the time–younger than Mom anyway. She was verrrrrrrrrry glamourous too, just like the Belvedere Motel. I think she wore earrings with her once piece and red lipstick. I hung out with that nice woman every day for two weeks. I am not so sure she loved it as much as I, but maybe she really wanted a good tan. I am pretty sure I tried hard to make sure she liked me by being clever…whatever that could look like….silly probably. But here is the punch line: When housing was available, after about 2 weeks and it was time to go, I went to the pool to tell her I was leaving…so sure she would miss me. Anyway, so as I tried to say goodbye, I was reduced to sobbing. OMG. This event opitomized my need to belong and my propensity for dramatics. I am sure she was stunned.

Now years later I drive by the Belvedere Motel. It is still there…somehow not as glamourous as I remember. It is a painted, cinder block structure and they took the sign away. I would buy that sign in a heart beat to this day…even take out a home equity loan to get it. When I drive by I get a visceral, emotional rush like you do when you catch a whiff of something that triggers and emotional hook. Like Grandma’s cellar or my Mom’s cologne. Well, all that said and done. I asked Brother Bill about the motel hoping he would volunteer to take photos of it and send to me. Not. What he did tell me was that he THOUGHT it had been raided not long after 911 as a location where alleged terrorists lived. Blasphemy.

Well, that is my short story about being needy, hating to say good bye, being clingy, and some other things. Belinda and a colleague of Freud believe that you can tell a lot about people’s first memory. This isn’t my first memory but it reeks of my emotional health as a 11 year-old. I probably needed a hormone patch!

Next episode: I must write about is getting thrown out of the movie theater in Shawnee, OK when I was about 5.