Archive for November, 2011

I Hit the Wall or I Hope That Was the Wall!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 by drycreekherbs

As I write, I am getting my chemo….it is a first…Len is with me tryng to ge a good handservant….so far he has run into town to get me a Crow’s Burger and fries and now checking out the juice choices. The Benadryl bag just started so I will start being woozy and maybe fall asleep at the wheel, so to speak.

Ok, since last entry. Susan brought me for my appointment with Dr. Rudd and the subsequent infusion treatment. — Len was still in El Paso. Afterward we had lunch then on home. Mickey and Morris had stayed in the house so we I got back I tossed them out the door. Then I crawled into bed wearing the wig and all clothes except for shoes. I sent the alarm for an hour but slept for four hours. So at 7:30 I called the cats in….Mickey ran in but not Morris. It has been a week and one day and it appears he is gone permanently. We have not seen any of the wicked coyotes but I am pretty sure they got him. Len and I like to dismiss this ending and prefer our own story. Morris took a boxcar to Chicago where he is living on better seafood and taking in the sights. This is our story. He reality he is probably in Tom Cat Heaven. I will say, without qualification, Mo was a fine Tom. He was philosophically opposed to using a cat box when he could ‘go’ outside; preferred to sleep alone, never killed a bird to my knowledge; and liked naps. Also I am pretty sure he was not gifted. Just my kind of cat. I loved him and miss him sorely. I called him different names. Morris, Mo, Maurice, Mareno, and Mouser. He was 7 years old.

I think other things happened. Len came home. I went to San Antonio overnight. Billy didn’t remember to tell mother so she was very surprised and very pleased to see me. We cleaned out her closet which made her so incredibly happy. Incredibly happy. San Antonio seems like a safe haven and I have always good memories.

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What else? I have a new therapist… my closet therapist! She came over and in 3.5 hours, we whipped through my clothes. I mean she purged through both closets. She went through my shoes, belts, t-shirts, and 45 shawls. She didn’t toss out any of my trashy clothes either. I told Jackie yesterday that I had nothing negative to say about the experience…Well today, I think there is one negative. She arranged my closet using different logic than I would. Things are more or less hnug by color alone. I set up by color and function. It was very good….I got rid of a lot of unnecessary loot.

So this takes me to Thanksgiving. Originally dinner was to be at my house. Mother declined the invitation since she absolutely cannot hear. Then Susan proposed we have dinner at her house. I readily agreed to move the event. Billy called and wanted to know if he could drive Mom up here. I missed the real question, which I think was could they both come for Thanksgiving? Mary was working and I think he wanted to do something. So I missed the point. Len and I were going to the Lawson’s and I had made some delicious Fruits of the Forest Pies. Buuuuuuut, I woke up crying and didn’t stop all day. I cried and cried and could not stop it. Finally about 2:30, a half hour prior to our leaving, I called Susan and bailed for dinner. I blubbered into the phone but she understood. All I could imagine was a horrific scene out of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? My relief was palpable. So Len took the pie over and i changed clothes and went on a good walk. . I can never ever say how that weeping renders me. We had bought a small turkey dinner for left overs so we were good for food. The pie is realllllllly good.

So what was all that about? I think it is steroids and coming down fast. I am being weaned down. Started at 20 units (?) of steroids, then 10, now 4. Len and I had to wait 2 hours to get started on the chemo. My bones ache some. There is a lot of good going around in my head. I still look for arrow heads when I am walking on the gravel road; I still wear cologne; I still am eager for Doc Martin to start back up; I still wear make up; I still know that this too will pass; I still want a puppy; and a whole bunch of other things so it is not the end of the road. The wigs are the pits though.

I adore my Mother. She tells me how brave I am. Totally not. She is the one who is brave.

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28 Degrees Southwest of Exploding

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I want some champagne. I want a bottle of champagne. I am settling for half of an Ativan, a Reiki CD, and some self-hypnosis. Maybe I will come down gently. It is Monday night and I haven’t written in a while because I feel like I have been on turbo fuel–ethanol-biodiesel-red dog-speed and a double shot of expresso with a Gatorade chaser. Most of the time I have been thinking, “I like this stuff.” Tonight I am wanting something and I don’t have it whatever it is. I guess this is why athletes take steroids–or maybe this is chemo? Who knows.

So in a nutshell, Len is in White Sands or El Paso depending on the day and time of day. This I think is very good for him. God knows he needs to get away from the fervor and pitch of this cancer day to day stuff. He gets very put out with me when I say this because he is a good soldier….makes me feel bad that I have been telling him all these years that if he got sick he was going straight to Audie Murphy VA in San Antonio. He is one hell of a care giver. Anyway, I think it is healthy for him to have time out. I am here doing very well in every capacity. I have had wonderful visits with chums for breakfast and lunch–all good therapy sessions. My friends are incredible. I think sometimes they pass me like a baton. I am never without cheerleaders.

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Number 7 chemo seemed to go quickly. We (Suz) and I didn’t have to wait more than 45 minutes to get the show started. It is like catching a plane…best to get the first flight so there aren’t any delays. But only the first few ‘infusions’ were scheduled early–the rest have been about noon which translates sometimes to 1:30 pm. Just enough time for me to get some blood pressure going. It was lower this week and now I am logging it too so I can prove to the nurses I really do have erratic pressure. Just for the record, I am getting sick of dressing up for chemo and wearing my signature flower. I want to be invisible or at least tonight I think that…but then I have had a full day of showing off. More on that in another paragraph.

All I can remember right now about this week is that I was Wonder Woman. In the early days of chemo, I slept for 15 + hours straight. Now I run wild for 15+ hours straight. Friday and Saturday I took the prescribed Benadryl and down-dosed the Ativan….probably shouldn’t do that. I made Nutella cookies, chicken enchilada soup, great northern bean soup, brownies, and chili dip in one day. It was for the freezer, elder buddies, or for just something to do. It involved shopping at Gucci B, gassing up the car, and I don’t know what all. I mean it, I cannot remember. I played Mah Jongg and won once…this is always big. I had a facial that was extreeeeeeeemely satisfying….so much so that i drooled and snored. I will be doing that again, for sure. Let’s see, I also went to my book club, happy hour at Becky and Bob’s, saw two movies in Georgetown, lunched with Nina and Patsy on my birthday, I think….then with Jackie the next day, and went to the library’s new sculpture sign revealing….is that the right word? It wasn’t a dedication. Looks very good and I am pleased because although it is an Troy K sculpture, it is from a photo of a sign I saw in San Antonio. Just like me to take credit for taking a photo of something. I am pitiful. Here is the point. I have been very active. That is so understated.

OK, I have to explain the photo of the slalb of cake. I had breakfast at Papa’s with D ….two eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns. Then directly to Cheddars to have lunch …who could eat lunch? So I had cake! I am happy to report that I did not eat it all…but a lot…shared the rest with the buddies. IMG_1856.jpg

So when I get into bed I practice my self-hypnoisis so I won’t have night sweats and irregular sleep….but for sure, I can’t even get through the process without falling asleep very fast….I just do the waking in three hour intervals…but I sleep great in between. Dr. E. says I am doing great with it…I guess. The big thing I haven’t been doing is practicing in the day…instead of in bed at bed time. So tomorrow I will practice on the screened in porch with the fountains on…that should be very nice.

I have not walked at all this week and I am suddenly looking very flabby. My arms almost look bat wings. I am getting the tingling in the feet they talk about with the Taxol…nothing bad just tingling.

Ok, now for today’s hot news: Edward, my friend and hair stylist when I have hair, and his friend Chuck invited me for a make up session so I could get started taking photos for my cancer self-portrait. This was a field day if I ever had one. I am still the little girl who liked to dress up like Jezebel. I didn’t know until later in life that it would be better to aspire to be Joan of Arc. No, I liked Jezebel. I am about to digress. I was at Edward’s stunning house for 3.5 hours getting made up to the max. TO THE MAX. When I got there Edward had this elaborate and beautiful tray of grapes, exotic cheeses, crackers, you name it. And, oh my sweet Sephora, I never saw so much make up. Chuck was the primary painter but he and Edward were really teaming. I don’t know what I can say, it was fuuuuuuun and they were very helpful about moving lights and coaching me. I used my new remote, wireless shutter clicker…whatever it is called so I took the photos but could not have done it without their assistance. Did I mention they provided the make up, jewelry and sari? I will just put a photo or two to capture the moment…I have to do a lot of editing. It was so generous that I can’t even put words to it. A total diversion. I think this is high on the acts of kindness index.

I am cooked for tonight.

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Is it Possible I am Starting to Like the Monday Steroid Highs?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Here it is Monday already and I hardly can remember what I did this past weekend. Hmmm….well, Len and I went to Austin and popped in to see Edward to shaved my head again…I want it to all be brand new hair when it grows back…I may not have to shave it again…looks like a real bald head now…in fact it is even shiny where there is no hair. This morning when I got up I realize I really do look a person with cancer.

I am a lucky woman. I mean, lucky. Edward gave me a beautiful pair of earrings that I will treasure AND Barbara W., friend from Christ Church old days, gave me a pair of really dramatic turquoise and bone earrings. I hope I don’t end up with Munchausen Syndrome because I have had so much positive attention. Eeeeak I can’t think of that.

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So here is the thing I am noticing: I am starting to actually enjoy the Monday steroid high. I was all over the map today. I had my first real learning session with Dr. E. to learn self hypnosis. I am so hopeful that I can practice this sufficiently to make it part of my self-regulation and ability to down shift not just for the hot flashes….which is why I am going, but also to sleep better and to control anxiety…maybe even lower my blood pressure during chemo. Dr. E. said he believes I am very receptive–I think he may have hypnotized me….it was very relaxing and I was certainly aware of all he was saying. I have a CD that I am to listen to before falling asleep….thank goodness for the iPhone and light weight ear phones so I am not laying in bed with the big Bose ear phones I use when I fly. Tonight I will try them for the first time. Ooops, here is something I want to remember…Dr. E. told me he wants me to focus on self-compassion. I think that is very interesting.

I had a great time today…I mean great. I went by and saw Mike Hoelscher at the shop and while I was there, Pam’s Daddy came in…92 and still driving. Pam looked like Anton. I say this every time, but I am so grateful that they keep me in their lives. I think of Pam so often….recently I feel her presence when I am doing chemo. She was always there to back me up. No, I will not get weepy. She died in 2003. I guess it is true that you don’t stop missing people after they die even after years. Ok, Ok, I am getting weird.

It occurred to me that I had a package for Mom to mail so I decided to go to the main Temple Post Office hoping I could meet my new friend, Anita N. who gave me the chemo throw. Wehen I went in there were only men at the counter so when it was my turn I asked if she was there…keeping in mind how they might not be receptive…but the fella at the window just called over his shoulder, “Anita, you have a customer that wants to see you.” She came out and it was amazing. This is a woman I have seen for years and never realized that one day she would reach out and touch me so deeply. When I introduced myself she said, “Please wait, I want to come around the counter.” A minute later the door opened and she came to me and hugged me. It was a very special moment for me. To think of how many times over the years that I have seen her and even talked to her through some mailing. I can tell she is a breast cancer supporter–she had a little pink ribbon pin she put on my shirt and proudly pointed out her new ‘tat-tas!’

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For some reason, I was really feeling the steroid surge…even though I was taking the Benadryl so it seemed the perfect time to hit the new HEB Plus in Belton—I am currently calling it

Gucci B. Len and I had done a field trip there the day before but this was a chance to scope it all out. Wow and Holy Cow. That place is just enormous. There is nothing like a grocery store for an ol’ Home Ec teacher. I was so stimulated and feeling a wee bit nauseas…still I surged on. It was the most over stimulating experience. I ran into two former students, former hair stylist, and former TISD colleague. I mean I was rockin’—I stayed 2.5 hours, for crying out loud.

Nausea. For the past two days I have had something like morning sickness….without really getting sick. Just queasy. I really don’t want to start taking the prescription I have if I don’t need it.

I am still feeling what I am calling heightened sensory awareness. It isn’t just senses but I am enjoying some kinds of introspective clarity. Now as I told Len, I am not thinking for a minute this is wisdom but it is very pleasant. One chum and I were talking and wondered if this couldn’t be just another side effect of chemo….I never in my life took any hallucinogenic drugs, small wonder, I might add–but this is, after all, chemo…who knows? I did mention this to Dr. E, the psychologist teaching me self-hypnosis. He seemed to think it is plausible. I mean I am actually sharper on Mondays. Hells bells, I actually beat Susan L two or three times at Words with Friends. This is BIG since she has beaten me nearly 20+ times and usually by 100 points!

OK, already maybe I am not as sharp as I think I am but I like it…Suz reminded me today not to get used to it since I have ONLY 6 more treatments. Changing the subject but not the paragraph: I reallllllllllllly want to go to FL in December and visit Steph. It isn’t really a great time for her I think, but she is willing to let me come….I need it. It is the gift of her friendship I need now. It will depend on my white blood count. I can get really furious thinking about how inconvenient this is. Roberta told me when I was diagnosed to expect to lose a year of my life. Damn.

Tonight is book club…The Girl in Transition…I am reading a lot…just took my blood pressure and just as Shane said, it is fine as long as I am home and happy and not doing chemo. 114/63. Not bad.

Edward and his friend Chuck have invited me to come to Edward’s house for a make up session — I want to learn some tips for my bald self portrait. I think I will take the camera and my new wireless shutter device. This will be very cool.

Prayers, Meditations, and Focus and Sixth Treatment

Posted in Uncategorized on November 3, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Here is what I want is going through my mind.

Jackie and I had a great breakfast at Megg’s in Temple this morning then off to chemo at noon. Thank heavens we didn’t have to wait but 30 minutes. The plan was for me to zone out and for her to work on some projects but we were having so much fun catching up that there was no zoning out! When it was time to leave the nurses were not sure if they could dismiss me my blood pressure was so high…after taking it a few times they conceded with the recommendation that I check in with Shane…I will do that tomorrow. I have stopped taking the daily 81 mg of aspirin and maybe I should start back up.

Prayers, Meditations, and Focus: I. Please let me not be oppositional defiant; 2. Please let me not think, act, or be a know-it-all; 3. Please let me start parking within the lines; 4. Please let me focus on anything other than me; 5. Please help me to express my gratitudes as deeply as I feel them, and 6. Please help me not to always wanting more.

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Amazing Kindness from a Stranger

Posted in Uncategorized on November 3, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Last week Len stayed with me during chemo for the first time….not because he isn’t willing but because he gets so totally fweaked out and nervous and weird and by my insisitance he and Susan go to all Oncology appointments and Susan is the ‘goat in my stall’ during chemo so I don’t get fweaked out. It makes me very happy and calm and Len is always, always willing to do go with me buuuuuuuut….he get’s nervous, and then I get reeeeeeeeallllly nervous. Ok, enough over-explaining what I already understand. So we are doing the chemo and he starts pacing…so I send him to the post office to mail Mom a package. He comes back with this story: When he went to mail the package the woman at the PO asked why he was mailing it from Temple when he was from Salado…just friendly small talk. He told her I was getting chemo at Scott & White. She told him she was a two time cancer survivor and asked if it would be ok to send me a card. So while he is telling me this I am getting the mighty chemo and therefore not really getting it.

Fast forward about 4 days. Len and I are at the Salado Post Office and while Len is getting our mail, I am visiting with John, our postmaster. Len comes around the corner with the usual 22 pounds of catalogs, 16 offers for credit cards, and a package in a padded envelope. He hands it to me and I see it is from Anita N. I said, “Who is Anita N?” John, the postmaster, answered, “She works at the Temple Post Office!” Voila, Len and I look at each other and Len says, “I bet she’s the lady I told you about.” I open the package and there is a bright pink fleece throw with crocheted edging and a pretty lengthy note and also a cancer slogan ball point pen. OF COURSE, I am instantly flooded with an emotional surge and begin to weep right there in front of all. I blubbered almost incoherently that this was the kindest most loving act of empathy, etc. etc. John and Len were both a little red eyed too. I am going to transcribe the note Anita wrote me on a piece of notebook paper because I want to remember this for a long, long time.

Dear Mrs. Susan Krals,   

Please accept our gifts of love to you, so they can strengthen your resolve to remain positive during your chemo treatments.

Pardon me for intruding into your life this way, but I couldn’t help but do this.

My name is Anita N. I am a two time breast cancer survivor. My friend, Mary R. is my ‘survivor supporter.’

‘Mary has made this throw for you to keep you warm and know that you are not alone in your fight. You will survive, because ‘tough times do not last, tough people do.’

I thanked your husband for coming to the Temple Post Office whre I work, and it was then that he told me, that you had come to Temple, Scott and White for chemotherapy. He showed a lot of emotion and showed he loved you deeply.

Again, Mary and I are here for you, as are all the breast cancer survivors. Mary made the throw and I enclosed the bright ‘chic’ pen to ‘click’ you into remaining positive. I shed tears of joy that I am able to be here for my grandsons, husband, son, and daughter-and all my family.

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Please do not be offended at us,

Sincerely with Christian love, Anita N

Mary R is one of my postal customers and lives at….

Their gifts and Anita N’s empathy humble me. I took this photo to send her.