Archive for October, 2011

Mule and Donkey Show-Save the Ta-tas-Positives (?) of Cancer

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2011 by drycreekherbs

It is very important that I get all these disparate ideas down…. Ok, so quickly. Yesterday, Saturday, I went with Babs to a jewelry show in Killeen. I vowed I wouldn’t buy a thing but at the end bought a little bracelet…part of the proceeds going to breast cancer. And, there were only about 8 people there when we were and three were breast cancer survivors.

As soon as I got home Len and I went to our first, maybe only, Mule and Donkey show at the EXPO center. DSC00514.jpg I expected it to be just somethin’ we could say we did….but it was reallly interesting and I am telling you those animals could do things backing up that I couldn’t do. I say those animals because I am still not sure donkey from mule and I know what it takes to make one but not what they look like. I think the mule must be bigger and look more like a horse…yes, that is exactly what I think. So, it was really cool. Of course, I had to have my photo made with one of the winners ridden by a young boy about 13 years-old. He was such a poised young man—I think that hobbies like this and 4H really do build character.

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Then from there to the Harley Davidson ‘Save the Ta-tas’ event that I just knew was going to be thoroughly amazing. It was kind of not. They did have a band, vendors, decorated bras, and food being served by SW Vanicek Cancer Center volunteers….but it just didn’t have much chemistry…and we reallly were looking forward to it. I guess the mules and donkeys just over-shadowed it! Photo of me and my Shiner Bock beer cap bra and one of the realllllly cool entries.IMG_1808.jpg

What I have been wanting to write about are some of the nice things that I have noticed related to this cancer business. My nails are great and my complexion has improved dramatically. I say this because I have had at least 4 people tell me at different times something about how good my skin looks….one, being my Mom, who although she loves me unconditionally, also zeros right on to skin, hair, complexion, and weight issues! Who knows why the improvement…still I am enjoying the moment!

Now the next part is related to the general public response to people who obviously have cancer. I imagine that is mostly about being bald….a dead giveaway to chemo. I think that it is amazing how strangers will encourage me or ask me questions that I am nearly certain they wouldn’t ask if they saw someone, say, using a walker. I was in the restroom at the Lexus dealership the other day washing my hands beside another person at the next basin. She turned to me and said, “I really like the way you have your scarf tied.” I thanked her and as we talked another woman came in–seemingly unknown to the other woman as well. She joined in the conversation and they asked me how much more chemo I would need, then about radiation, etc. We walked out of the restroom together and they kind of gave me a thumbs up and words of support. After I thanked them for their encouragement I had some wait time for the car and I kept mulling it over–how different I THINK it is than having some other illness. I can’t imagine someone approaching someone with Parkinson’s–maybe it has to do with Breast Cancer Awareness in October. FOR SURE, there is a lot of evidence of different corporate support.

Len told me he read or heard on the radio, some negative comments about all the ‘pink’ business. Gads, I can’t really imagine someone saying that. Even if it is everywhere–why would it actually bother someone? Maybe the person felt like they were being asked too many times to donate. I don’t know. When Len and I went to Williams-Sonoma today to get fancy Japanese knives, the cashier asked us if we would donate a certain amount for breast cancer. We did and my gosh we received a 20% off coupon for some great shops in Austin, plus $100 off on the knives, AND a $50.00 gift card. I know this much–the awareness is there and I think it will make a difference.

Boo-hiss. Tomorrow I have to get up at 5:15 bright eyed and bushy tailed — it is time for the dreaded new military ID card because I am turning 65. I think I will wear the short wig.

I am NOT in San Miguel.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2011 by drycreekherbs

This is the first time in 7 years that I haven’t been in San Miguel de Allende for Day of the Dead. All day I kept thinking about it…and I swear I could almost feel the early morning clarity and smell the mountain air. I love it there so much. Next year.   

Day After Chemo: Lesson Learned

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2011 by drycreekherbs

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I slept 5 hours yesterday after chemo…awake for one hour..then back to sleep for 10 more hours. So today I am supposed to be doing the benadryl and ativan 3 times a day but I decided to

just do the benadryl. So far I feel great…I am not sleepy nor hivey. I am jerky and kinda supercharged and still weep without warning. BUT I feel good and even walked 5 miles today…this is very good since I am eating like a horse. The following written 5 hours later. Well, so much for playing doctor. As the evening wore on I reallllly became jerky and hyper. At one point, I felt like my skin might just blow off of me. Like 5 cups of expresso and some speed too. Never again will I just cold turkey….I will take .5 of ativan with the benadryl. That was spooky.

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Earlier in the day: So I am at my favorite spot in Salado…our library. I am holed up in the conference rtoom and I have accomplished all kinds of things. It is like having myown office…privileges are bound to decrease when I am off the Board in May. I believe in term limits and I have served for 7 years….they need new ideas and commitment.

Len is working with the other Mason’s at a Chili Dinner to support Salado High School’s new soccer team so he will be home later. He also played golf today. This is all very good for the ‘caregiver.’

We have lots on my plate this weekend…so I won’t sulk while chums are all having a big time in San Miguel…tomorrow I am going with Babs to a jewelry show and sale in the morning. Then Len and I are going on two totalllllly cool events…in theory at this point. One the Harley Davidson Toadallllly TaTa Event and the Southwest Mule and Donkey show at the Expo Center. Sunday after church an outing to Williams & Sonomal to buy über knives per Tanya’s recommendations. Lunch at Roaring Fork….yummmmmy red meat! for happy red blood cells. And speaking of my RBC, Len is making a chart showing the fluctuations in my RBC, WBC, and glucose. Nice souvenir.

Overnight in San Antonio and Self-hypnosis

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I drove to San Antonio for the first time on my own since June–I think. It was very easy although I did have to think hard a few times about where things were supposed to be—It was wonderful to be with Mom even if it was barely 24 hours. Billy and I went to the commissary at Randolph AFB, my real home town, and had a nice visit….how is it he is so mature and responsible? He used to be so six years old.

On my home I went to the Austin Lexus dealership to get my oil changed and new phone calibrated with the car—I haven’t been there in a few months because it is just as easy and much cheaper to get regular maintenance done locally—Leapin’ Lizards! I didn’t recognize it. I thought I was at the 4 Seasons Hotel. None of this is an exaggeration. Not one bit. They have big plants in the drive throughs, a huge coffee shop complete with granite, pastries, fruit drinks, cookies, organic fruit, chai, expressos; a lobby that looks like it came out of Architectural Digest; and hellllllllo—a boutique. Not a boutique that sells Lexus logo stuff. No. Aromatherapy candles, cashmere sweater dresses, pashminas, gold and silver jewelry, stationery, cook books, hats, and objects de art for the home! I am still stunned. After the Lexus experience, I went straight to Billy Bob’s Burger palace for Jackie and Patsy’s birthday club. I loved it. Lolly was rockin’.

Ok, now to Dr. E, my new ‘other’ therapist. This one is to teach me self-hypnosis. The first session was, I guess, about making sure I am not criminally insane. The idea is that when I have one of the hot flashes from hell and I can’t sleep, I can instead do self-hypnosis. I don’t have much to add now because the learning hasn’t started. I do have a ‘Hot Flash Symptoms Diary’ where I note how many and the severity…mild, moderate, severe, and very severe. Here are the attributes of very severe. Lasting up to 45 minutes; boiling heat, rolling sweat, difficulty breathing, felt faint, felt dizzy, feet and or legs cramping, change in heart rate, slightly sick to stomach, feelings of distress, urge to escape, and difficulty functioning. I am happy to report I am in the moderate zone. I would want drugs not hypnosis if I were in the severe category. Dr. E was pleased to tell me that he and Dr. R had published their findings in Oncology. I like things like this so I am game. Perhaps if I master it at all I can use it during the DARK and GLOOOMY days. I reallllllllllly want to self-regulate during these times. I mean they are DARK and GLOOMY. Dr. R says depression is a very common steroid side effect even though at the onset you feel euphoric. I mean when I start coming down—I plummet.

I am having a glass of prosecco. I must remember not to drink it like water– it is tasty.

Len is taking me to chemo tomorrow….Susan has gone to PA with Bill. I will miss her sorely….and I have already told Len he cannot pace around or watch sports on TV while in my chemo pod. He is a good man and will make it work for me. I walked 6 miles today!

I am reading a very good Jane Gardam book….I like her writing…this one is called Queen of Tambourines. Verrrrrrry British funny. At the same time I am listening to Charles Todd audio book….I can’t remember the title but I like it. Although not totally about PTSD, it does address it from the ‘shell shock’ WWI point of view. A good mystery. I can’t wait to start reading Thereby Hangs a Tail—dog detective story. Belinda sent me Estrella’s Quinceañera, a young adult book which has a glossary of spanglish 101…could be useful in San Antonio! Also in the book pile is Empire of the Summer Moon recommended by Becky and Bob and A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Roskay who wrote Sarah’s Key. I am reading a lot.

Yippee! It is going to be cold as a witch’s tit tomorrow. I love it. AND a 70% chance of rain.

Belinda and I are thinking of a February outing to an arts and crafts school….she has her eye on North House Folk Art in Minnesota–I would want to take pine needle basketry or lace knitting. I am leaning more to NC at the John C Campbell Folk School for pine needle basketry, KALEIDOSCOPE making (I have always wanted to build one), and exploring the world of portraiture. I haven’t even looked at Arrowmont in Tennessee yet. I think weather could be a consideration.

Ok, I have to close this and charge my battery. I am very determined to write this week about Frances Davis, my real, first education mentor from Harmony Elementary School and getting thrown out of the Bison Movie Theater in Shawnee, OK for looking under the bathroom stall. And while I am doing that I might just write about my childhood with my cousins. I looooooved that part of my childhood. Ok, I am whipped. I just looked down and see that my hands look like chicken feet. That and ingrown hair. Damn.

Here’s My Point–In 10,000 Words or Less

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Subtitle 1: The Steroids are Raging Through Me and my Neurons Want to Explode

Subtitle 2: This Too Will Pass, I hope

Subtitle 3: This Was my Decision

Subtitle 4: Brain Theory and Emotional Intelligence Revisited

Subtitle 5: False Self & True Self (Seriously pondered during writing but not discussed)

Preamble

I am writing this to make a point if I can figure out what the point is. My brain is going a million miles a minute and I have sufficient energy to trot up the IH 35 Corridor. Yup, this was chemo day and visit with my oncologist.

Introduction

I am going to do stream of consciousness writing then maybe try to fix it later. Or I might stop right now and google ‘parts of a term paper.’ I did that and got lost in cyberspace jumping from one interesting topic to another.

Parenthetical Text

Most everyone that I know reads this is far smarter than I. Also they might want to write in and clarify my memory or send me web sites that will help me grow. Don’t. Tonight I am purging not trying to get smarter. Said with love, of course.

Body

We were up at 5:30 so I could look my best for chemo and visit Dr. R. That seems odd to me now that I write it but I don’t have the interest in delving into that right now. We (Len, Susan L, and I) are getting to know the routine, the short cuts, and the power brokers. This is all good. The visit with Dr. R was fine. My lab work and MRI on my bread (also known as head…damn, the chemo brain) is all pretty much normal according to Dr. R… Susan concurred with the lab results.) He kindly endured questions about my ingrown hairs that are all over my scalp. I call that adding insult to injury. Not his enduring, but the ingrown hairs.   Anyway, during this talk he tells me when the hair comes back on my scalp, I can also expect lanugo on my face. I jumped on that one. I KNOW lanugo from child development teaching. Damn, we are talking downy fuzz like fur on my face. Consolation: It will go away in time–I am thinking like 10 minutes or less of time.

We also talked about the lousy chemo scheduling and he said he would try to change that–I suppose by influence…and it looks like it is better now. The problem with the previous schedule is that I couldn’t plan on anything—no pattern to work with for doing things besides having stupid cancer. I think it is better but I will only know when I see it in black and white and I will do that later tonight.

On to the chemo treatment center—Len bought us Starbucks then went on for errands and golfing, which is exactly what I wanted him to do. Another big blur for me. The cocktail, which I asked to be stirred not shaken, has enough Benadryl to take down the Green Bay Packers. So I just don’t remember much about it. The port works to everyone’s satisfaction but I still think it is creepy to see something like a marble under my skin. I deaden the area about 1 ½ hour before with Lidocaine then put Press N’ Seal on top of it so it won’t smear off or onto my clothes. Oh, Dr. R says the port can come out as soon as chemo is over….none of that keeping it in just in case, as far as I am concerned. Out, out, out.

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Susan and I went to Saigon Gardens for lunch before going to the grocery store. Back to ingrown hairs. I have been given all kinds of advice about ingrown hairs and I have bought all kinds of products…and who knew there were so many products to get? There is actually a little section in stores for such. I have bought a kind of pumice, but organic, of course, that buffs out all kinds of things. I have THE cleanest scalp in town. Also I dab on any number of other cure-alls. But today, he tells me to get Cetaphil cream. Did that…so now after all the above, I am using something that looks just like Crisco and it feels like it too. This is not the kind of learning I ever wanted.

All right, move on, Suz. I was delivered home walked straight to my bed and slept for about 45 minutes with the alarm set so to be up when Peggie brought me some delicious homemade bread. About this time I hit the wall. Big Wall. First, she was kind and tender-hearted and that did it. I cried for who knows how long. Long after she was gone I was blubbering around the house feeling like my skin was shrinking and at the same time shampooing my wig, cleaning out drawers and looking for things. What can I say? When I read this in two years, I will think, “This is sooo boring,” but I want to remember it. It may make me better in some way. I hope.

Len came home to find me no longer effervescent and scintillating. No–I was wigless, dressed in PJs, and sobbing. He is a prince.

Here is the big ah-ha. I decided to decorate my Toadally Ta-Tas Bra entry for the Harley Davidson event a week from this Saturday. So, I started sorting beer caps and hello, sweet mystery of life, I felt a wondrous calm. Wondrous. And as I am doing all this, I’m remembering snatches of brain theory and KISD Emotional Intelligence Training. I am blissfully not going to get it right here, but I do know that to get out of a limbic , amygdala based frenzy you can self-regulate with a little help from some other part of your brain, which I cannot name at this moment. So there I was, an hour of sorting beer tops and I was a new woman. This might be a spiffy way to conclude. I don’t know what the concluding statement should be….but I should carry a duffle bag of bottle caps around with me and when I start to blow emotional fuses, just sit down at a big table and sort*. Beats sobbing. Tomorrow I will use the hot glue gun and glue Shiner Brock caps on the bra I bought for the Harley Davidson’s display.IMG_1814.jpg  DSC07320.jpg

Cool Weather and a Day of Wilding at Steinmart

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20, 2011 by drycreekherbs

What could be better? Len drove me to Austin which was nice so I could read my book and make long lists of not important things to do like plan a tea party and find a web site that gave tips on digital portraits….I decided to do a self portrait of me bald in black and white–maybe wearing a fascinator but definitely bald–no wig. Anyway, I am using the timer on my camera so it is kind of tricky. Ok back to the outing. We went to Austin to an obscure Steinmart that was hard to find but Len and I toughed it out and found it. I needed a black lace top to wear in May when Belinda and I go on our Viking River Cruise and the Chelsea Flower Show. Then we met Belinda at the Roaring Fork for lunch then two more pit stops–manic no-iron blouse buying and a Tom’s shoe frenzy at Whole Foods.

This was all fine and good but the creme de la creme (Is that correct in any language, I wonder?)…we did a surprise visit to Mom. It wasn’t totally a surprise because I figured I better call her first….it was wonderful. She giggled and was teary. Me too. I had my wig on but took it off. She kept saying, “I can’t get used to that.” I sat in her walker knee to knee with her in her recliner so she could hear me. Brother Bill came in the front door and since Len had left to go to the Ft. Sam Pro Shop, Billy didn’t see my car. So when he walked in all he saw was the back of a a bald head…he had no idea who it was. When I turned around he just looked at me blankly–a slow comprehension. He didn’t much like it you could tell. BUT in a matter of minutes all was well and we felt compelled to capture the look-alike-moment.

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We only stayed about 1 1/2 hours but it was a very good day. Mom and I were both very happy. Thanks to Len…a generous man.

A Near Roman Holiday: 12 Days Between Chemo and it was Grand!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I am writing this entry because my computer had a hissy fit week before last. I wrote for three hours two Saturdays ago, I think, and when I hit publish computer must have thought I said, “-hit!” So it censored me and deleted the whole thing. Grrrrrrrrrr.

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So I will just have to do my best with a shallow basin memory pool and a print out of my calendar. I used to be so quick! :-0

Len completed the Lance Armstrong Ride for the Roses again this year….I realllly feel like I have written this before…spooooooooky! Anyway, in years past he has ridden in support of Carol, Karen, and Susan S. This year he rode in support of me….45 miles! That is pretty amazing for a man who is 68. When he came home he had a bouquet of hydrangeas for me. He is incredibly thoughtful.

Of course I have run dry on real enthusiasm on things that happened so long ago but I can tell you it was a great 12 days….I had chemo on Monday instead of Thursday for reasons that defy logic–I was in a rough period where my appointments were helter skelter and I was meeeeeeean about it. I think it is all settled more or less now….Mostly all Thursdays but for two Fridays to fit Dr. R’s schedule. During these 12 days I had so much good thinking days that I just ran wild. I had lunch with Foy at his house….all just perfect. The weather was great, the meal was delicious, and he was so incredibly charming. I mean it, he can be Prince Valiant when he wants to be. I even showed him my bald head and he didn’t faint or get queasy.

Hmm, I also had a pumpkin spice spa pedicure which means it cost more than normal—but I like going to the Fountain of Beauty (you just have to love that name) because it is super clean. And I have become very interested in germs. I want to see those implements come out of an autoclave and barrels of bleach being sloshed into the basins.

Susan L and I went over to the Howdy Texas Bakery for an inside visit with the owner. We really get buzzed about the ‘back of the house’ kind of places. Over the years we have visited weavers, quilters, confectioners, etc. I am hot to go to the Mars Factory in Waco ever since I found out they make Snicker Bars there. i will drive 50 miles happily to watch Snicker Bar production.

Babs and I went to Steinmart where I found the finest ‘fascinator’ like Princess Kate wears. I think I will do a self-portrait for the Salado Art Show in February…think it will be a B&W photo and very stark but with the spiffy little feathered hat propped up on my head. This is intriguing to me…I have found a web site for portraiture tips now I just have to make myself do it. My brain is usually revved up in high gear or I am flat lined and cannot remember anything.

Other great things about those 12 days…I had breakfast with Ann and dinner with Katie. I am leaving some things out and repeating others so I think I will add a few photos from chemo with my nurse navigator, Carol, lunch, and other outings. Time to move on but first I have to figure out how to post date this so I can keep things in chronological order.

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