Monday, April 25, 2011

Kimo the Elephant

Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days are Over" was looped repeatedly in my car last Thursday morning. I love the first line, "Happiness, hit her like a train on a track." And that is exactly was Sprinkles got that morning.

Bridget at work wanted to do something special for me since she new part of my spirits had been dampened by the anticipation of this particular chemo. She enlisted the help of her son's 3rd grade teacher and came up with the best "Happiness". The whole class made me homemade cards with encouragement of hope against cancer and they gave me a stuffed elephant to keep me company during my chemotherapy. I was so stunned and overwhelmed that I cried. I love children and to have these little beings make/send me (a stranger!) homemade cards made my cup runneth over. I have since named my new soft friend Kimo!

Meet Kimo and see the stack of cards next to him:

I must have held on to Kimo tighter the next day. It went well, but a little weird. My port was giving me issues so they had to infuse all the drugs in my arm. The nurse was unsure of chemo going into the port. I have a dye-study scheduled (hopefully) this Friday during my short chemo day. My aunt escorted me and I had the pleasure of being recognized by someone from my Ovacome group as well as the techs and nurses at the infusion center... Jeezus, I need another hangout.

Good news -- my boss went to bat for me with our benefits team. I am no longer paying $50 for one of my after chemo meds. They have overridden it with the drug company and I will be paying $25 instead. So from $73 to $48 every three weeks instead. Hooray!

Just to keep me on geeky track, here is something I came up with to help me with taking these things. It is not foolproof - this fool forgot to take the pink section all day yesterday. Sigh. It was just for anti-nausea -- luckily, I was okay.

Working today was not bad because the blue section was not on today. Those drugs make my brain woozy. Will work from home again tomorrow just to be sure... I did experience a little feathering in my hearing today like I did at my aunt's house on Sunday. It was not a strong thing and didn't keep me from enjoying my cousin's kids. I guess it comes and goes. Everyday is a new adventure in side-effects. You can never say cancer is boring for sure!

Sprinkles xo

SIDE NOTE: On the Dog Days video, it kinda reminds me of Captain Kirk's Quaalude induced sex dreams if you could imagine such a thing. What do you think?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Channeling Churchill

Once again, I am "greeting inevitability with a smile". My new chemo treatment begins this coming Friday, April 22nd. Accepting this next phase has been more difficult than I thought it would be.

Wednesday was my appointment with my surgeon and his team to discuss my chemotherapy treatment. I reminded him about the allergic reaction in Cycle 6 to Carboplatin, one of the cocktail ingredients of last year's treatments. He then made the decision to treat me with Cisplatin. I started to laugh when he said this particular drug causes kidney damage and more nausea. Oh, joy.

We also discussed the after care drugs. I told him I would rather do the same surgery we just did than take the after care drugs that messed with my brain days after each chemo treatment. He said it would have to be discussed with the pharmacist and the nurse. All in all my surgeon foresees me doing well especially when he reminded me how sick I was last year when I went through treatment. It was not a total comfort to me. Things got more upsetting when the pharmacist came to discuss the chemo drugs.

A specialized pharmacist bearing short pretty bobbed blond hair and a cheery patterned dress with a sweet angelic face came to see me. No, her heavenly presence did not diminish the gravity of her words. She confirmed the Cisplatin causes kidney damage and more nausea. I then asked her how would we know? Would I pee blood? "No," she says -- "It will show up in the blood work." Great, a silent killer. More assurances of being able to reverse or stop the side effects spilled from her mouth. Oh yes -- there is also a chance of some hearing loss. Sigh. What about the Gemzar portion? What exactly does that drug do? In her calm angelic way, "It messes with your RNA and stop things from growing." Goddamn it, are you fucking kidding me?! (Remember...all these drugs are poisons designed to treat cancer.)

Next my surgeon's specialized nurse came in. We discussed the aftercare drugs and my feelings on it in great detail. They looked at the dosage prescription for the chemo which was surprisingly lighter than they thought. Instead of having two drugs for after chemo drugs, I will have four drugs staged to minimize nausea and brain fog. Later I found out that instead of paying about $12 every three weeks, I will be paying $70+ because one drug is not standard and my insurance company will not cut me a break on pricing.

I must must must remember I am being treated in the No. 4 ranking facility in the U.S. and that my surgeon is the best in the department. I must must must also remember that I am in a better place than last time. My new scar has healed nicely and looks fabulous. Hell, I look fabulous thanks to more weight loss and my determination to look extraordinarily normal and beautiful. I will experience some hair loss, but not a total one like last year which is a plus if you're trying to retain your own beauty during chemo.

There was one unexpected news... Tab has gotten engaged and is getting married today. After I told him off in December to stop our association even as friends/acquaintances, his now wife has managed to be employed in my company in the same building starting while I was out on medical leave. Of course, being the Class A Jerk he is, he also managed to instant message me last Monday to "say hello". He didn't know I already knew of this new development prior to my first day back to work so I made sure to make a preemptive strike and ask him how she enjoyed her new employment and commented on her engagement ring I saw earlier in the day. His response was dead silence for several moments until he recovered and prattled on and on regarding his new wonderful life. I wasn't so accommodating. He soon lost interest and was tired of getting insulted. (For some reason, he keeps coming back for conversation when he thinks my temper has cooled off. He banks on my forgiving nature.) Two great things came out of this: 1) I feel nothing when I see his fiance/wife and 2) I felt more of nothing when he contacted me. Hooray for Sprinkles!

Quilting...yes, I have taken it on. Since I cannot practice my other womanly arts (wink), I might as well take on a more leisurely one. Last weekend, I took a road trip with Kimmee and Quilting Cathy to shop four quilt shops where fabric was a calming drug. I am halfway through my first one. That one is being named "Manila Sunrise". A pic will be posted when it is completed.

It is near noon... I should make a nice lunch and work my plans for preparing for chemo, minimizing side-effects from chemo and getting through it. My surgeon wants to do 6 cycle sets which should have completion in August. My support system of family and friends keeps me going when I start to have doubts. I am often reminded that I am important to many people.

It is essential for you to know that I am doing great; I just have to dig deeper in my faith to keep my smiles. Luckily, the well is Infinitely Deep and will not ever run out as long as I never, never, never give up. Think Churchill.

Love and Blessings,
Sarah Sprinkles

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dianne's Delivery

Today I ventured into the world by myself. I went shopping for a spell at one store. After over an hour, my wound area became a little achy. Perhaps I should have worn my band around it like I do when I go to sleep. When I started to feel tired, I went home to prepare for Dianne's (aka Possum) visit.

How do you react when you receive a gift like this?

Dianne may have delivered it, but it was actually from her Filipino co-worker Mario. He is such a nut and thought these things would go well together and be a funny gift. I had no choice but to laugh hard. This is what happens when you get two crazy friends into an Asian market. Laughter is the best medicine I am telling you!

On the other hand, Dianne also brought me two hand fans, sesame cookies and these cute solar-powered Lucky Cats from her. (I mistakenly always call these Happy Cats.) Their heads bob from side to side thanks to the solar panel. These are the only cats I love. I can't wait to bring them to work so I can smile every time I look at them.

We made our way to a local restaurant after I opened all my gifts and had a great time catching up and laughing. Her visit was a great cheer-me-up. I had been feeling a little down after my shopping earlier when my body was reminding me that I am still healing from a big surgery. It is the stuff that can mess with your spirit and mind. Luckily, my new cats set me on the right path.