Monday, March 20, 2017

5101 Tattoo!

Monday, March 20, 2017

We need a president who is fluent in at least one language.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I now have seven tattoos!  They are tiny black dots, three on my back, three on my chest, and one on the back of my left upper arm, acquired last Tuesday, and to be used to position my body in exactly the same position for all of the radiation treatments.  I can barely see them, they're that tiny.  

Well, they scrapped any musings I may have had regarding any "real" tattoos.  They HURT!  One little poke each, and it hurt so much I can't imagine getting multiple pokes - and I've had two babies with no anesthesia whatsoever, and no yelping, so it's not like I'm a wimp.  I've just got this thing about people poking holes in my skin, I guess (which, actually, is why I opted to have the babies naturally in the first place).

I go in tomorrow for a "dry run".  The treatment is done with me lying face down on a framework that has the right breast falling through a hole, and the beams go across that breast.  This is supposed to avoid exposing the lungs and heart etc.  That framework doesn't look like it's made of lead, so I don't know about that....

------------------------------------

The Angel is no longer my tax guy, since I fired Piper.  I needed to find someone down here, so I'm using the folks (a husband-wife team) who do Daughter and Hercules' taxes.  

I took my packet in to him on Sunday.  He was very impressed that I had everything separated and clipped, with sticky-tab labels and all.  He showed me a few files from other clients, just big jumbles of forms and papers.  I can't imagine how disorganized they were.  How do those people know if everything is there?
.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5100 The "Blizzard"?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A lethal dose is also a lifetime supply.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

We were supposed to have a huge blizzard today, 12 to 18 inches of snow.   I don't know how much we actually got, because by the time I got up this morning, the snowfall had turned to sleet, which soaked into the foot or so that was already on the ground, and turned it all into something like 6 inches of ice.  

It's miserable.  Very difficult to break up, let alone shovel.

I have to see the radiation oncologist tomorrow, so it's now 9:15 pm, and my lawn/snow guy and his helper buddy are out there now working on it.

I felt so sorry for them I paid double.

I hope I can get down the driveway tomorrow without sliding.

------------------------------

Apparently the country house is getting it much worse.
.

Monday, March 13, 2017

5099 I've got to purge memories....

Monday, March 13, 2017

The reason the washing machine eats one sock is because
 if it ate the pair, you'd never notice.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

I've been inundated with scenes from my past a lot lately.  The easy conclusion is that I've been feeling mortal, and need to "examine my past", but I don't think that's what's happening.  I suspect it's just that my life is a lot more restricted these days.  I don't go anywhere, don't do anything, can't make a lot of plans because I don't know what my health or schedule will be, so I have a lot more time to mull things.

One scene is from college days.  There was a whole group of us in the Husky Lounge sitting around a table talking, when a guy walked up to the table and stood next to a seated young woman who was talking about something-or-other.  Without saying a word, he unzipped his pants and flopped out his penis, inches from her face.

Now, this was shocking because it was a crowded public space, full of students grabbing a soda or burger between classes or playing cards.  It was 1963 or so.  Alcohol was difficult to obtain, you could be expelled for drinking at all anywhere, and drugs were virtually unheard of, so I don't know what his reasoning or excuse was.

Anyway, I have admired that unknown young lady (I didn't know her personally) for more than fifty years.  Without pausing in her speaking, without so much as turning her head, by peripheral vision alone, she bent her elbow, raised her hand, gripped the offending member tightly, and JERKED it toward the center of the table as hard as she could.  When she let go I swear it went sproing!

The guy doubled up, yelped, and stumbled out, and she didn't even blink.  Just kept talking.  The rest of us at the table, well, nobody said a word, but a photograph would have caught us sitting ramrod straight up with huge round eyes.  Nobody said anything.  

I've often wondered what that was all about, and whether he suffered any damage.  

------------------------------------

Something different that has been intruding on my thoughts all day today is my high school class ring.  They were distributed on like the last day of school.  The boyfriend at the time insisted I had to immediately give it to him to wear on a chain around his neck.  That was "the thing" at the time, and it would be the height of disloyalty not to present it to him.  So I did.

[Elvis Presley - Wear My Ring Around Your Neck] 


I broke up with him when I went to college, so (wonder of all wonders) he gave it back.  In college, it was not cool to wear a high school ring, so it sat in my jewelry box for a year, and then I started dating Ex#1, and he wanted it.  He "lost" it when I left him and we divorced.   I think I actually wore the damn thing maybe three times.

I  never got a college class ring because I graduated a year early, so I wasn't on the list to be offered the opportunity, and by the time I thought of it, it was too late.  (They still have me listed under the wrong year, so I get the reunion notices a year late, and I barely made it into the correct yearbook.)

Somehow, I still feel deprived.  I really do miss the high school ring.  It was unusual - rectangular and inset instead of the usual mounded round.  Very pretty.
.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

5098 March

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Trying to get rich by playing the lottery is like 
trying to commit suicide by flying on commercial airlines. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

 I an in the midst of an  ocular migraine right now.  It started with the small circle of zig-zags about 10 minutes ago, and has grown to the full field already.  No headache, just the visual disturbance.  We'll see where it goes.

I looked up my past ocular migraines:
1996
02/25/06
12/05/06
05/12/07
07/20/07
11/11/10
10/13/11
06/06/14

03/05/17 (today)
This blog has a real use after all!

I thought I'd had three - the first when I was helping a friend move, the one where I'd lost names for a while, and this one.  I'm a bit shocked that there have been so many.

---------------------------------

Our weather has been weird.  We'll have three days in the mid-70s, and then it will suddenly drop back to freezing for four days.  Rinse, repeat.  I don't understand, and I'm very tired of it.

-----------------------------------

I have an appointment with the radiation oncologist at Monmouth on Wednesday the 15th, to start radiation planning.  

Sloan Kettering has opened a cancer center only seven miles from my home, and I wanted to switch to Sloan Kettering for the radiation, because Monmouth would involve an eighty minute round trip every day for something like six weeks, bleck.  But Sloan Kettering doesn't accept my insurance.  I made some calls, back and forth between S. K. and my insurance to try to get authorization to go to S. K., and it might have happened, and then one day I realized I was avoiding making the calls.

I don't know why.  Maybe I'm just too tired.  I hate the telephone.   And because it would be out of network, I'm pretty sure the out-of-pocket would be a lot higher.  (Not that cost matters that much.)  And it's only about six weeks.  I don't think I'm depressed, but, well, I just don't feel like fighting.  I quit trying.  I'm just tired.

My final chemo infusion was February 14.  Every cycle has been different - some easier than others, some harder, but in almost every three-week cycle I was feeling lots better within a week, and much better within two weeks.  This last cycle knocked me out.  I'm not sure I could handle another.  Every previous cycle, the onco doc asked me if I had any mouth sores or extremity numbness, and I'd always said no.  This time I had about a week of some kind of tender sore on the roof of my mouth, and a few days of intermittent numbness in the tips of my fingers.  That's all better now.

I still feel awful, and I'm starting the third week.

Nausea has not been a problem.  That problem seems to be solved, but you still feel crappy all the time.  An acquaintance who is in chemo tried to describe how it feels:  it doesn't really feel like you're sick, or even like you're coming down with something, it just feels like something is terribly wrong, and you can't put your finger on it.  (Not surprising that something feels wrong - every cell in the body is being poisoned.)

After thinking about it, I can describe it for me.  It feels like I've been pumped full of air, like a bag of potato chips, and it's causing pressure on everything inside me.  Pressure on my heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines, muscles, everything, everything being squished, and the excess "air" itself makes me weak.  I ended up giggling thinking that, because ever since starting chemo I have had a lot of flatulence.  A LOT!  So the thought of being full of air was, um, interesting.

-------------------------

It is now much later.  The ocular migraine finished quickly, but midway through the above paragraphs, I discovered I couldn't write.  I couldn't put together sentences that made sense.  I knew what I wanted to say, but it came out wrong.  After my last ocular migraine I couldn't remember or recognize proper names for a half hour or so.  This time I could compose sensible sentences in my head, but when I tried to write/type them they made no sense.  Words were mixed up, spelled wrong, and for some reason every third word was "feel".  Weird.  No problem with names like last time - I tested me a little.  

----------------------------

I've been sleeping badly lately, and I don't know why.  I do know I involuntarily wake up at about 6:45 every morning, and I wake up furious.  Absolutely spitting mad.  The neighbors across the street have a totally untrained pit bull, and I guess they put him out in the morning (fenced yard), and the damn dog barks CONSTANTLY and angrily and insistently and loudly at something, maybe another dog in a yard on the next street over, for an hour and a half.  No breaks.  Constant.

I doubt that the township has effective animal control, and I doubt I could get anyone to come out to hear him at that hour anyway.  I can't be the only person disturbed.  On the other hand, most other people are getting up to go to work then.  It's bad enough that I have toyed with the thought of doctoring some hamburger (no, that's not something I could do, but it's nice to think about it).

I'm mad at them anyway.  They have made no effort to train the dog in any way.  When the dog is outside, the woman will open the door and yell, "Cody!  Stop jumping at the fence!  Get in here!  Go in the house!" and gets angry when he doesn't obey.  Does she really think the dog understands random English sentences?  I've noticed that trait with most dog owners around here - they have no concept of how to train a dog.  Or even why.
.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5097 Caution

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I keep hearing, “Nowhere in Humpty Dumpty does it say he's an egg.” 
 That's because it's a very old riddle!  That he's an egg is the answer, not the story, so of course it's not given.

--------------------------------------------------------------------- 

A post or two back I recommended writer Lawrence Block.  I have to withdraw that recommendation.  Some of his books contain scenes of nasty sex.  I suspect it has a purpose, perhaps to lead the reader to distaste or dislike for some of his characters.  

Perhaps it works too well.

Blech.
.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

5096 Wasted reading time

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mosquitoes are dirty used needles that fly.

========================================== 

I did something today that I have never done before in my life.  I quit a book.  Done.  Finis.  Threw it across the room less than half read.

I hear and read about other people who get partway through a book, and set it aside as not being worth the effort.  I never do that.  I struggle onward and (eventually) finish every book I start.  Sometimes it takes a while.  The House of the Seven Gables, for example, required literally years of coming back to it, but eventually I did finish it.  There were a few others like that.

It's not that I'm especially virtuous or anything.  I'm just pretty careful about what I pick up.  I choose books based on reviews, recommendations, or skimming in the bookstore.  Buying books online makes it a bit harder to skim, so with crap like that shades of purple thing, I sometimes get stuck.  It arrived, I skimmed, and just from a paragraph or two here and there I knew it was so poorly written it would drive me crazy, so I never even started actually reading it.  Stuff like that doesn't count.

Well, I stupidly fell for Michael Crichton's sales numbers again. 

I've read Crichton before, and every time I end up annoyed.  He can't tell a story!  It's like he immerses himself in the topic, learns all the buzzwords, loads up on details, and then writes 300 pages of everything he has learned about the topic, like he wants to show how smart he is, and half-heartedly wraps a thin story around it so he can call it a novel, rather than a textbook.

I got 141 (of 431) pages into Airframe and gave up.  I'm tired of page after page of details on airplane parts, repeated over and over, and thin characters who seem to serve just to spout that stuff.  It really is possible to give us as much as we need to understand the situation, Michael, without page after page of detail!

And then, of course, I remembered that I'd had the same thoughts reading Crichton in the past.  Phooey!  I have a very poor memory.

If you want good mystery, try Lawrence Block.  I've read two of his books recently, and enjoyed both.  

(Yeah, I know the color on the "shades of" thing is wrong, but you know what I meant, and I didn't want it to show up in searches.  Ok?)
.

Monday, February 13, 2017

5095 Disappearing varmints

Monday, February 13, 2017

Girl Scouts is a brand-name cookie company
that gets away with child labor.

==========================================

Remember when cable TV subscription meant no commercials on their proprietary channels?   Your monthly subscription payments were supposed to eliminate the need for commercials.  That's what they told us, anyway.  

I got Sirius radio on my car seven years ago, and back then there were no commercials.  Now not only has the subscription fee doubled, but I'm hearing loads of commercials.

I don't understand....

Well, actually I do, I just don't want to.

-----------------------------------------

My neighborhood varmints have disappeared!

When I first moved in here, every evening there were bunnies in the front yard.  Almost every evening an opossum would wander onto the porch, and a family of raccoons would raid the neighbor's garbage cans.  (According to neighbor George, the raccoons had been living in the buried truck in my back bank for decades.)

We had at least two regular skunk visitors.  I know there were at least two because one of them had only half a tail, so he was easy to identify.   They were totally unafraid; one walked across my foot one evening.  

Twice deer cut through my yard while I was standing there, and one evening two does sauntered down the middle of the street, heading toward the bay. 

And we had loads of squirrels.

In short, my tiny yard was full of varmints. 

I'm seeing a lot fewer seagulls and terns, too.  There used to be for years a pair of year-round resident swans on the lake out back, and I don't recall seeing them in at least the past year.

I slowly became aware over the past two years that they all seem to have disappeared.  All gone.  All the beasties.  All but the squirrels, and there are a lot fewer of them.  

What happened to them?  Nothing has changed, not that I know of, anyway.  Poison isn't likely, given the diversity.  Coyotes or foxes are unlikely, because they don't usually get squirrels.  Dogs don't run loose here, but cats do, and I hear outdoor cats are disappearing, too.

I don't understand.  It worries me.
.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

5094 Strange weather.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why do we say “hair” when we mean lots of it,
but “hairs” when we mean a few?

==============================================

It got to 60 F this morning.  Now the temperature is dropping, it's 43 F at 3 pm, and we are supposed to get several inches of  snow this evening and tomorrow.

I don't understand.
.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

5093 Rigged election? Yes, but not the way Trump thinks.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

One of the biggest problems facing the world today is
overpopulation, and if the religious types want everything to
be according to their version of God's plan, well, perhaps
they should recognize that homosexuality might be part of
God's plan to stem overpopulation, the "natural" way.  A gentle
way.  The other ways are unthinkable. -- Me –


============================================ 

Oh!  Oh! I forgot!  Don't know how I could have forgotten given all the talk of rigged elections and voter fraud! 

I voted on the appointed day at my assigned polling station, the local VFW.  The machines, two of them, were the kind that are the size of a refrigerator with the big vertical screen, and the curtains that swung open and closed.  The volunteer in charge of the machines checked my ticket and pointed to the one on the right.  I went in, and closed the curtain.  

The screen looked just like the sample ballot that had been mailed to me, and that I had studied before coming in.  Across the top was a long chart of candidates for federal offices, names down the left, and then party affiliations listed across the chart toward the right.  It was a touch screen, and you were to touch the check-box next to the candidates you wanted to vote for.   Then, below that, on the left, there was a box with the text of a proposal about allowing casinos other than Atlantic City, with yes/no boxes.  In the middle bottom was a box for some local office.  On the lower right was school board choices.  At the very bottom far right was the huge "cast votes" button.

So, I went down the top list, names and check boxes on the left, and made my selections.  The check boxes all lit up.  I ran down it again to check that all the correct ones were lit.  They were.  Remember, this thing was BIG, and I am only 4'8.5", so I had to look up for this part.

Then I moved down to eye level to the gambling part, read it through to make sure it said the same thing as was on the sample, and made my choice, and verified that the correct box lit.  Then my eyes moved right to the local part, made my choices, verified that they were lit.

Then my hand moved to below the school board to the "cast vote" button on the bottom far right, and I was about to press it when --- something told me to check the whole board again  ---

I am registered independent.  I rarely vote a straight ticket.  I do my research, and I scatter-shoot.  I have even on occasion voted third party.

Imagine my disbelief when I looked back up at the federal section, and discovered that ALL THE CHECK BOXES FOR DEMOCRATS WERE BLANK!!!!   All my votes for Democratic candidates were thrown away!  I quickly went through again and touched the boxes, and they turned on again, and I quickly hit the "cast vote" button on the lower right, watching to make sure they stayed on.

How many people had followed the top-left-down-right-right-bottom path without looking up again to check before hitting that red button?  How many Democratic votes were thrown away, and nobody noticed?

When I left the booth, I told the volunteer what had happened, and he refused to believe that I hadn't accidentally cleared those boxes myself somehow,  even though it was obvious that those boxes were too high for me to have brushed them accidentally.

I didn't pursue it further, because there's no way to prove what had happened.

So no, I have no faith in the results of the election, but not for the same reasons as Trump.  But there's nothing anyone can do about it, and at this point in my life, I don't have the energy to stir up a hornets' nest that is doomed to failure.

5092 Almost finished with chemo.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


We get heavier as we get older because there is a lot 
more information in our heads.
So I'm just really intelligent and my head can't store 
all that information, so it has to be stored other places.
That's my story and I’m sticking to it.

================================================

Well, a major update.  I'm in the middle of my seventh round of chemotherapy, will start the eight and last on February 14th, and then on to the daily radiation.  I am tolerating the chemo so well that for the past two rounds we skipped the Neulasta (immune system stimulater) because I figured out that it was that shot that was causing me to feel so icky in week one of each round, and on every previous blood check my numbers were (to use the doctor's term) robust.  

Round five was interesting - I had an allergic reaction to one ingredient of the mix that resulted in itchy red hives all over my entire body.  Claritin quickly took care of that, so now I take one tiny Claritin every day.

They had told me that my hair would "thin" some, but I wouldn't go bald.  "Thin" turned out to be about 90% of my hair.  I have very little left on my head, and I'm pretty much bald in other interesting places.  The doctor was happy to hear that, actually, because he was beginning to worry that I was tolerating it TOO well.  I gave up on my hair and cut it to about two inches, and just slick it back with gel to cover the nearly bald spots.  Doesn't bother me at all.  I can tell it's trying to grow back, because there are short fine angel hairs that stick up here and there.

Yeah, the fatigue is building.  I don't want to go anywhere or do anything, but it's not so bad that I want to take naps.  Don't care to walk very far, for some reason my thighs rebel, so early in January I got a handicap parking placard, but that's when we started skipping the Neulasta, so I haven't had to use it yet.

There was a question as to why I was getting CMF, when there are newer treatments out there.  CMF has been around since at least the '90s.  It's OLD!  Well, when the oncologist told me he chose CMF because it wouldn't cause the side effects that the newer ones did, I got worried that I got CMF because of my age (frail little old lady that I am (NOT!)), and maybe he thought I couldn't handle anything more nasty, so I did some research.  There are clinical trials comparing CMF to other newer chemotherapies, and, in particular for what I have, triple negative breast cancer, it turns out that CMF works just as well as all the others, with fewer side effects.  Any differences in outcome were like 1% or less, which is negligible, really.

The biggest news is that Memorial Sloan Kettering has just in the past few months opened a cancer center only 7 miles from my home, an easy 13-minute drive.  The surgery and chemo was at a breast center a 40-minute drive away, which wasn't so terribly far when I'd make the trip two days in every three weeks (Daughter went with me only for the first cycle).  But daily?  For like seven weeks?  That's a trek.  So I'm looking into having the radiation (prone, must be prone) at Sloan Kettering.  We'll see.  I'll also be able to get second opinions there on other stuff, too, like the follow-on treatments.

--------------------------------------------------------

Politics.  I've been freaking out just like most of the world, but funniest thing, it wasn't until yesterday that I realized, "This is REAL!  It's not a comedy skit that'll be over in a few weeks!  This is IT!  It's not a joke!"   Well, it is a joke, but it's no longer funny.   Chemo didn't nauseate me but what's happening in Washington does.  Bannon?  Cheney redux, but with less political savvy and fewer brains.  http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/report-bannon-had-to-be-reminded-he-wasnt-the-president.html

(Does anyone know what happened to the Hatch Act, a 1939 federal law holding executive branch employees must "maintain a federal workforce that is free from partisan political influence or coercion"?)


I sort of was for Bernie, but I knew he'd never get the nomination.  I think the DNC realized that as soon as he was nominated the RNC would be screaming "Socialism!  Communism!", and the exact same people who voted for Trump would fall for it.  Bernie might have got even more popular votes than Hillary, but the electoral college fallout would have been the same.  Same people, in the same states. 

The website https://www.track-trump.com/ is updating daily on promises made, and actions taken over the first 100 days.  It's an excellent source for what's going on, presented without commentary.   

---------------------------------------------------------

Remember Matt and his dancing around the world?  At 0:14 in this video, Matt is dancing in Philadelphia, and if you look very quickly, you'll see a little girl in a striped dress on the left, directly in front of a guy in a grey-beige shirt, dancing up a storm.  That's my Nugget.  I don't know how Hercules (in the grey-beige shirt) knew Matt would be there, but, well, there they are.



---------------------------------------------------------

This is Tom Scott.  He mostly does science-oriented videos from fascinating places around the world, and I'm subscribed to his channel on YouTube.  He posted this one after the election.  And his fears are justified.  All over the internet, a certain group of people have become nastier.  Much much nastier.  It's like they think they have been given PERMISSION to be ... well, nasty.   And the one person who could tell them to knock it off, is ignoring the problem.  I despair.




---------------------------------------------------------

Several of the nurses have, after seeing the "age 72" on my records, remarked on my facial skin.  The left side of my face was torn up in a bicycle accident in my teens, and with age the scars are showing up now, finally, as a network of fine lines and pits.  The right side of my face is smooth.  I have the usual sagging along the jawline, but the nurses remark that "You have no wrinkles!"  

They'll ask if I moisturize, and I say no.  I'd hate to tell them why I think I have few wrinkles.

This is terrible to admit.  I rarely wash my face.  I don't wear makeup like foundation or blush, so it's not like I have to wash that off at night.  In a bath or shower I often forget my face - it gets washed as a side effect of washing my hair.  So, I guess, rather than moisturizing, I just don't wash the oil out.

I also won't exfoliate.  Jay had a theory that it was very bad to exfoliate, because your skin all over your body is naturally protected by a thin layer of dead skin cells, and if you remove that layer, the top layer of live cells die to reform the protective layer, and then the skin has to regenerate new cells to maintain skin thickness.  Cells generate by division, and any cell can split only so many times (look up "telomeres") and when it reaches that limit, the cell dies.  Exfoliation causes early cell death, so your facial skin will thin and age faster.  

Chemotherapy has affected my skin.  It seems to be thinner and saggier all over my body, probably because chemo will prevent regeneration (a good thing, I guess, as far as tumors go).  I've obviously lost some fat under my skin, even though I've lost only 2 or 3 pounds over the past seven months.  I'm hoping it will all go back to normal after this is over.

--------------------------------------------------

Well, I hope to be better about posting.  I will try, anyway.  
.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

5091 Oops!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I didn't realize I hadn't been here since October.  Time passes when you're having chemo.

Ok, I'll be back pretty soon with updates.  In the meantime, enjoy this, Taking Fake Books on the Subway:


[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uywdkkEnTNc]
.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

5090 Chemo Rounds 1 and 2

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects
such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art."
-- Tom Stoppard --

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, here's how it goes.  I arrive on a Tuesday and go upstairs, where I sit in a recliner that's much too big for me, so I can't recline it.  They take blood through the PICC or port, and start an IV with saline and Zofran (for nausea).  We wait for the blood counts to come back.  If they're good, we do the infusions.

I'm getting CMF (cyclophosphamide 1,000 mg, methotrexate 67 mg, and 5-fluorouracil 1,000 mg) on day one of each cycle, or "round".  The M and F are what they call a "push" - it's like a slow injection into the IV.  The C is a drip, takes about 30 minutes or so.  On day 2, I get a shot of  Neulasta to encourage the marrow to make white blood cells.

Then nothing for two more Tuesdays.  That's one round.  Three weeks.

I started Round 1 on September 20.  I had a prescription for Zofran pills, every six hours for two days for nausea, and as needed thereafter.  The doctor had also given me a prescription for Olanzapine (Zyprexa) 10 mg, one a day for four days.   On label it's an anti-psychotic.  Off label it has been shown to help with chemo nausea.  He warned me that it might have mental effects.

The Olanzapine prescription was difficult to fill, required calls back and forth between the onco-nurse and the pharmacist.  I don't think they wanted to fill it.  Given what happened next, I suspect the dosage was too high, and the pharmacist was uncomfortable with the high dosage, once a day, for four days.  This is one of those things you're supposed to ramp up, and ramp down.  No ramping here.

So, I dutifully took the Zofran as prescribed on Wednesday and Thursday.  I took the first Olanzapine on Wednesday late afternoon, and it was ok.  I took the second Thursday late afternoon, and everything was fine until I went to bed about 9:30 pm (I like to read before falling asleep).  

Now, me and drugs - I almost never even bother to fill prescriptions for pain meds.  I don't want to take hard-core prescription opiates if I don't really need it.  Recreationally, in my whole life I tried marijuana exactly once, in maybe 1979, and it made me so sick I can't even be in the same house with it now.  There's never been anything else, never tried anything else.  So it's difficult for me to describe what that night was like, having nothing to compare it to.  

The minute I went horizontal, things got really weird.  Maybe like a bad LSD trip?  One part of my mind was seeing things that weren't there, things were happening that weren't happening, movement, whirling, colors, scenes played out from things I recently read, many of them, and it wasn't like serially - it was all at once, everything overlapping, and all on a roller coaster.  There was pandemonium going on in there. The other (smaller) part of my mind was still rational and watching this happening and trying to wrest control back.  That went on until about 5 am, when I finally fell asleep.  The next day I was exhausted.

Other than that, Round 1 was pretty much a breeze.  No nausea, no fatigue.  

One thing I noticed was that suddenly I smelled everything very strongly, even with a headcold, even things that weren't there.  That wasn't a real problem until I went to the grocery store.  Man, ever notice how many things there are to smell in a grocery store?  That was my closest brush with nausea.  I had to rush around, grab my stuff, and get out quickly.

Constipation was expected, but two days of prune juice (which I actually like) fixed that quickly and easily.

The doctor had said that this cocktail might thin my hair a little, but I wouldn't lose it.  Well, it quickly started falling out by the handful.  By the second week, the "rope" that should have been 1.5 inches in diameter was less than an inch thick.  I gave up and cut the hair that had been touching my tailbone to mid-neck.  By then the tail was too thin to even consider donating it.  If I had known that was going to happen, I'd have donated it before starting chemo.  It was in perfect condition.  Not a single split end or shaft break in any of it.  No coloring, no heat, no chemicals, no crimping barrettes, no rubber bands had ever been allowed to touch it.  Sigh.  No big deal.  Actually, I kind of like it this swinging length.

I'd also been told that the Neulasta would likely cause bone pain, sometimes severe.  I had one bout of excruciating pain in my lower back, but one Motrin banished that in minutes, never to return. 

And that was Round 1.  Not bad.  Now we get to the second place I may have been misled.  The doctor and the nurses told me that the first round would be the most difficult and subsequent rounds would be easier, except that the fatigue would likely increase.  So you can imagine how pleased I was that it went so well.

Round 2 started Tuesday, October 11.  The first thing I did was give the bottle of Olanzapine to the doctor and tell him that I didn't care what he did with it, but I never wanted to see that stuff again.  Days 1 and 2 went just like before, except this time I was allowed to be in the big room with all the well-behaved people.  The rest of the week didn't go so well.  Wednesday and Thursday I ate next to nothing.  I'd try to fix food, but then couldn't face it.  There wasn't any nausea, but I felt like if I ate that crap, there would be.  Wednesday through Sunday I kept falling asleep on my feet.  I was miserable.  It wasn't until the middle of the second week (last week) that I felt alive again.

What I learned is that about the only food I could face the first week was "white" food.  Plain yogurt.  Plain ice cream.  Vanilla and rice pudding.  White cheeses.  Mashed banana.  Chocolate milk.  Boiled eggs. Mild crackers with brie.  (Somehow, brie was ok, but Philadelphia cream cheese was not.)

Round 3 (of 6) starts next week, Tuesday, November 1.  I plan to lay in a good supply of the above white stuff ahead of time so I don't have to send Daughter on foraging trips again.  

-----------------------------------

I'm starting to worry a little bit about the care I'm getting.  (Starting?!)

I got the PICC in my left arm just before Round 1.  The only thing I was told about the care of it was that I shouldn't get it wet.  If taking a shower, wrap with Saran (I tried, it didn't hold at all), if bath, hang that arm over the side of the tub.  I had to add a little tape to keep the IV hookup doohickies (lumens) from flopping around, and I loosely wrapped it with a kind of wide athletic wrap so it wouldn't get caught on my clothing or scrape my breast.  

[Pictures and descriptions of PICCs and Ports here:  https://infuserveamerica.com/iv-line-access/]

So when I went in for Round 2, the nurse was shocked to see the same doohickies as had been installed three weeks before.  The PICC was supposed to be flushed and the doohickies replaced at an absolute minimum of every 7 days, preferably every day.  So she was freaked that they hadn't been touched in three weeks.  She seemed surprised that the line was open, not clotted, and it worked fine.  After the infusion, the exterior parts were replaced, and I was scheduled to get the port WITHIN A WEEK!!!

How come nobody ever mentioned daily flushing to me?   Seems like that should have been important info.

So I got the port last Tuesday, October 18.  

It was placed on the left instead of the usual right because the tumor was on the right.  The catheter goes up from the port (which is implanted under the skin), under the collar bone, into a vein near the side of my neck, and down to the heart.  I was sedated, so Daughter accompanied me for the day.  I was very happy that they were able to use the PICC for the sedation instead of an IV in my hand (pain!).  It was mild sedation because I was awake the whole time, but couldn't see anything because they had a kind of tent over my head.  The only pain was the numbing shots.  They pulled the PICC when they were finished and I was happy to see it go.

My left chest is a mess.  There's a glued incision above the collar bone, and another where they put the port in, and they look terrible because under the glue it's all bloody.  From the port on down my breast for about six inches there's heavy bruising, probably from subcutaneous bleeding.  Otherwise it seems to be doing just fine.  Couldn't get it wet for four days, can't wear a bra for a week (because the strap would come too close).  So today is my first bra day.   I've been driving with the seat belt under my arm, because over the shoulder it goes directly over the port.  I'll have to figure out something better and more permanent for that.  Maybe just padding.

The chemo nurse said they would remove the port when chemo is finished.  I said "Uh-uh, no way, I'm keeping this!"  They're good for up to two years if they are flushed once a month, and I suspect that there will be many blood draws and with my diagnosis (triple negative) with a high chance of recurrence there will be all kinds of scans with contrast, and a port will come in handy (I got a power port, supposedly, so it can handle denser contrast fluids).  No more blown veins, no more monster bruises, no more branding irons on my hands and arms.  No more flinching and crying.  The nurse laughed, and said "It's yours, and you have to sign permission to have it removed, so yeah.  Just don't sign."

Over and out.
.

Monday, October 24, 2016

5089 Medical progress, start chemo

Monday, October 27, 2016

Rita Rudner: "Men don't live like humans. They live like bears with furniture"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Over the past few decades, breast cancer survival rates have been improving due to earlier detection (better mammogram technology) and targeted therapies.   When my core biopsy was examined by the lab, they said the cells showed 60% estrogen receptors (and 0% progesterone and HER2).  Everyone who saw that said, "Oh, that;s very good!", because that meant that that targeting the estrogen receptors would work.  That's targeted therapy.

When you last heard from me  on this topic, we were anxiously awaiting the Oncotype DX results.  The medical oncologist had said that we would definitely be doing the estrogen receptor blocking, and would likely do radiation, but whether I needed chemotherapy or not would depend on my Oncotype score.  If it was low, no chemo.  High, definite chemo.  In the middle, "We'll talk."

So, we got the report.

The scores on the chart went from  0 to 50.

I scored 57.  Off the chart.

Thud.

While we were talking and he was making chemo noises, I happened to notice something odd on the report.  In the fine print it said that "this sample" had 0% estrogen receptors.  I pointed it out to him, and he made some noises about how "their lab isn't certified" or some other term that seemed to imply that I should ignore what it said.  It was more than obvious that he'd have preferred I hadn't noticed that.

I wouldn't let go, especially given that the report was ABOUT the effectiveness of estrogen receptor targeting, and I asked how believable ANY lab report was, and finally he admitted that after he saw that, he'd had the hospital lab run tests on my post-surgery tumor, and their results were also 0% estrogen receptors.  Note that the core biopsy, one month before surgery, showed 60% estrogen.  That's a big difference.

It appears that I now have what is called "triple negative" breast cancer (TNBC), which means there is no targeted therapy for it.

I am incredibly angry.  If the initial core biopsy had shown TNBC, then I would have had chemo before surgery, which studies have shown that to vastly improve the prognosis.  Too late now.  The prognosis for TNBC is miserable.  Don't bother looking it up.

So, did someone screw up?  Was it a mixed tumor and different slices showed different characteristics?  Did they mix up my results with someone elses?  (Shades of 2012 when a hospital mixed my records up with a heart patient, and I was being treated for conditions I didn't have.  Now I was not treated for a condition I do have!)  Did the tumor really change so drastically in one month, while having shown no growth during that period? 

So, I have an extremely aggressive tumor (scoring 8/8).  Targeted therapy seems a vague hope.  The only good news is that it was found at an early stage (T2a)  and there was no node involvement (assuming I can believe the lab).

Immediately after that meeting with the oncologist, I was scheduled for a chest port, but I had a head cold and so much post-nasal congestion I couldn't control the coughing, so there was a last-minute decision to install a PICC instead.  That's an IV hookup that enters a vein in the inside of my upper arm and travels to just before the heart.  Not pretty.  Can't get the dangly parts wet, so rather interesting to bathe.

The next day we started chemo.

Now, I had been told I had a very treatable cancer.  Then I find out that's not true.  
I had been told I wouldn't need an IV to get the port installed.  That wasn't true.  
Then I was told I'd have four rounds of chemo.  That became six.  
I was told I'd have one "push" med on day one, one on day two, and then one oral spread out over two weeks.  That wasn't true.  I'd be getting all three on day one.  
 Then I found out I had to go in again the day after infusion to get a shot for boosting my immune system.  
All of this jerking around in the space of three days.  I no longer knew what to believe.

So that day, September 20, when I started chemo, when I got more of the "different" info, I confess I freaked.  I insisted that I was NOT supposed to get all three at once, that one of them was supposed to be oral, this was not at ALL what I had been told, I had done the research on those meds and the oral version of that stuff was supposed to be much better tolerated   ----

Long story short, I threw a very uncharacteristic fit in the infusion room in front of a dozen other patients ensconced in recliners.  The nurses packed me off to the oncologist in a hurry, where I told him what he had told me, he agreed that's what he told me, and then he and the onco-nurse got into a huge fight in front of ME where she told him he had it wrong, that's not the way they do it, their procedure is blah blah, complete with her slapping the calendar on the wall.

The upshot was that I got my three infusions in a private room. Keep the crazy lady isolated.  Round 1.  I'm not sure who won, but it wasn't me.  The onco-nurse hasn't spoken to me (or looked directly at me) since then.

Bedtime.  I'll finish this tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

5088 Thoughts on trumpery

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Those that flee temptation generally leave a forwarding address...."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's been a long time since I updated here.  There's lots of updates on the breast cancer, but I don't have time for those details right now.  Tomorrow, I promise!

In other news:

Trump has terrible legal advice.  He wants to sue the women who claim molestation, but it's a classic "he said, she said" situation.  He can't prove it didn't happen, and most of them can't prove it did.  Stalemate.  The backstage beauty contestants would win hands down because they have witnesses and his own words (to that foul radio guy, what's his name), and the woman who told at least six people about it when it happened, would win.  As for why no one complained when it happened, it's one of those things where you cringe and say nothing and shake it off because otherwise you'd be accused of making it up and be destroyed by someone much more powerful than you.  As for why now, he stood up in front of the world and claimed he never did anything like that, and that would thoroughly piss off anyone he did it to.  If he'd never denied it, it's unlikely anyone would have said anything.

Another example of bad legal advice, he doesn't seem to understand how the government works, that the president's power is limited by the Constitution, Congress, and the judiciary.  How come nobody pounces on him when he says things like, "I'll pass a law that...."  Presidents don't pass laws.  Dictators do.

You know, he could still win.  I'm sure there are people out there who would not admit to a pollster that they'd vote for him, but who then would because they see him as a grenade they could toss into the houses of Congress, and that sounds like fun.  Maybe he should use that as a new campaign slogan:  "Toss a Trump grenade!"  Sell "T-branded" grenades instead of those stupid hats.

OMG!  I just had a horrible thought!  Could you imagine the White House interior redecorated in televangelist-stage-style gold leafed thrones (like his apartment)? Cringe.
.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

5087 HOTW - Chief Hampton

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"Oh, my dear little librarian, you pile up enough tomorrows, 
and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. 
I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering."
-- Professor Hill, "The Music Man"  --

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi. Long time no update.  I'd been trying to get definitive stuff on the breast problem before I try to write about it, and it seemed like every day I'm up in the air but I'd know something more meaningful in another few days, and then that day would come and go and there'd be more stuff that was up in the air.  If it's frustrating for others, think how it must be for me.   One thing I've learned, though - ignore anything the doctors say, and believe what the nurses say.

So, anyway, I'll try to get an update on that topic either later today or tomorrow.

Today I have a Honey of the Week (HOTW)!  Haven't had one of them in a very long time.  I really truly haven't seen any that made my tummy tickle.  Today I found one.  Maybe I should call him HOTY!

You may have heard the stories coming out of mostly the south about clowns trying to lure kids into the woods?  Yeah.  I suspect it started out as a joke, and then some kids in other localities thought it sounded like fun, and now it's the latest dumb thing for idiots to do, either to make a bogus report, or to put a mask on and cause some excitement.  

I happened to read this article this morning about clowns showing up in a small town in Mississippi, and I was stunned by the photo of the local Chief of Police.  A HOTW if I ever saw one!  It seems he's not only a hunk (I'm a sucker for cheekbones and dimples, and he's got both), but he has some very novel ways of going after the bad guys.  Novel enough that they sometimes show up at the police station and turn themselves in.  

So I did some research, looking for better photos, and found out a little more about him.

This is a newspaper article about how he operates, and there's a video there,  and this is from a radio station about some of the controversy caused by his use of Facebook to address suspects, and his, um, less than friendly language on Facebook.  Which reminds me, he has a smooth soft voice in the video, something else I can't resist.

He sounds like a really cool character.  If you want to see how he uses Facebook, look for Tchula Police Department.

So, without further ado, my first HOTW in maybe years, Chief Kenneth Hampton:

If you want to check him out without the hat, and with maybe even a smile, see the videos at the links above. 

------------------------------------

Bonus.  I don't know who this is or where I found him, he was just out there lurking in my HOTW folder, and I don't feel like doing an image search to find out anything else right now, but he's certainly worth "honorable mention":

Actually, I have to admit, this guy scares me a little.  He doesn't look like someone I'd want to snuggle next to.  But it's also true that if he were in a crowded room, I wouldn't be able to stop staring.

--------------------------------------------------------------


And just because, this from historian Jeffrey Herf in "The American Interest":
"Trump discovered what the classic demagogues of the 20th century understood: namely, that in a democracy it is possible to gain millions of votes by appealing to the worst in people. Trump, like Mussolini and Hitler but also like Stalin and Mao, understands that there are millions who enjoy hatred, who take pleasure in humiliating others, who find relief in giving a face and a name—Mexicans and Muslims today, Jews, capitalists and imperialists—to complex economic and social processes."

I'm amazed that no one has yet pushed Trump on his wonderful plan to eliminate ISIS.  I guess they know there's no point in trying, because there IS no plan, we all know that, but at least you'd think someone would point out that many people are dying horrible deaths every day, and if his plan would save them, then as a human being, if he has the tiniest ounce of humanity, he has a responsibility to divulge it so it can be put into action immediately, and all those refugees could go home.

.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

5086 I wonder which way she went....

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Desmond Tutu --

---------------------------------------------------------------

Well, we are finally rid of Phyllis Schlafly.  Can you tell I'm not a fan?  

She almost single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment the first time it was submitted to states for approval.  She said there's no such thing as marital rape, since when a woman marries, she has implicitly agreed to have sex whenever and however her husband wants, "Not now" is not an option.  She said that if your husband beats you, you are at fault for not keeping him happy.  She insisted that a woman should stay home and keep house, even while she herself was out running political groups and giving speeches all over the country. 

This wouldn't be so very bad except that she had enormous political and social power. Men ran everything, and they liked what she was saying.  Women who liked being treated like fragile princesses lined up behind her.

She fought so hard against the ERA because she felt that if it passed, women would lose all the legal protections, benefits, and advantages they had.  One of her most effective arguments was that women would be drafted and forced into combat.  A lot of people bought that.  And women would be forced into the job market, instead of having the option to not take an outside job if they didn't want to.  Goodbye afternoon soap operas and bon-bons.  Goodbye huge alimony and rent-free house if the slob left you.  And maybe goodbye to the kids.

Young women today have no idea what it used to be like, when a woman couldn't take out a bank loan for anything without a male cosigner.  When a husband could sell anything a woman owned without her permission or even knowledge, including a business in her own name that she had built from the ground up.  When ten fully-qualified women and one less-qualified man could apply for a job, and the job would go to the man (of course) and the women had no recourse whatsoever.  When a woman likely had no idea what her husband's salary was, what money was spent on, what the family finances looked like, where accounts and savings were, and she was given a household budget (an allowance, really) and that's all she knew, not because her husband was mean - that's just the way it was done.  Women were treated as no more capable than children, except where childcare was concerned, and the laws allowed it.  Encouraged it.

I'll never forget having coffee one morning with a neighborhood mothers' group, and the subject of the ERA came up, and one woman was very annoyed and declared, "Oh, that!  I don't need liberating.  My husband lets me do anything I want."

We couldn't convince her there was anything wrong with that "lets".

Goodbye Phyllis, fifty years too late.  I hope the door hit you on the way out.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

5085 Purple houses might be better after all

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"New truths go through three stages. First they are ridiculed. Second they are 
violently opposed and then, finally, they are accepted as being self-evident."
– Arthur Schopenhauer --

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About 30 years ago, a homeowner near where I lived in NY was in some kind of dispute with the town.  So he painted his house  violent purple and orange.  With red and yellow and green florescent trim.  Oddly, none of his neighbors complained.  Everyone seemed to consider the whole situation comical.

Now there's a guy who, fifteen years ago, purchased a few hundred acres of farmland about 10 miles down the road from here, in a very residential area.  The township won't approve his building houses  on it.  They want either agricultural use, or commercial.  I used Google maps to check it out, and the plot is surrounded by homes worth probably $400K+ (small lots, two stories, likely 2,500 sq ft, attached 2-car garages, with minor details they all look pretty much alike, solidly middle class).  Commercial developers who have looked at the land and its location have determined that it's just not commercially viable.  The guy has been growing soy beans and other crops, but it's not "paying the rent", so to speak, and he's steadily  losing money on his investment.

So, he has announced that he plans to turn it into an enormous pig farm.  That's agricultural.  He doesn't need permission, since he won't be building permanent structures.  He's in active negotiations with a big pork producer who will actually run the operation, and expects to move in the first batch of (free range) hogs in October, gradually ramping up to thousands.

I can wait to see what happens next.  I doubt the neighbors will consider it comical.


.

Friday, August 26, 2016

5084 Calories

Friday, August 26, 2016

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
 – Eric Hoffer --

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I figure I've got to lose weight, because I have to fight the nicotine gain, and since since my ovaries aren't pumping out estrogen, most of that is coming from the fat.  Less fat, less estrogen; less estrogen, less potential tumor growth.

I started counting calories today.  By the time I'd finished supper, I had a total of about 900, maybe a little less, including the creamer in my coffee, and a one ounce bittersweet baking chocolate treat.  Today is a "no meat" day, I do that about two or three days a week, so that makes it easier to count. 

Then Daughter brought over an ear of sweet corn (fresh, boiled, no salt or butter).  I love her corn.  She always does them just right, sweet and tender.

I ate it.  Then I tried to find out how many calories to add to the total.

Some websites say 59 for a "small ear".  Some say 59 for a "regular ear".  Other sites say 135.  All the others are somewhere between.  89 seems to be popular.  Very few get into specifics like weight.  All I can say about this ear is that it was 7" long and had about 17 rows of kernels.

Maddening!  Whose numbers do I believe?  Whatever.  I think no matter what number I use I'll probably still be below the target 1100 for the day.

It's a sad truth that if I stick to canned and packaged foods, it's easier to count calories.  Something wrong with that.
.

5083 Still no idea what's going on

Friday, August 26, 2016

"Those who can make you believe absurdities,can make you commit atrocities" 
– Voltaire AKA Fran├žois-Marie Arouet --

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Last week I saw the medical oncologist, but didn't learn a whole lot, except that we don't know much of anything until we get the Oncotype DX results.  I mentioned that I had no idea when the radiation was supposed to start, so he set up an appointment for me with the radiation oncologist, whom I saw yesterday.  Again, I didn't learn a whole lot.  One important thing is that they will do my radiation prone, the "drop the breast through the hole" position, so there is almost no chance of messing with heart and lungs.

I was under the impression that the radiation would be definite, and before any other treatments, but again, they're waiting for the Oncotype DX results.

If I need chemo, this group likes to do it before radiation.  We won't know whether chemo is advised until ... guess what.  And that might be another week.  Or two.  Or more.
So, chemo if required (and if I decide to accept it - I may not), then radiation, then the hormone stuff.   (Calling it hormone treatment is a misnomer, because they wouldn't actually be giving me hormones.  It's an estrogen blocker, blocks the receptors on cells.  Big deal.  It's still treating hormones as far as I'm concerned.  Menopause is a hormone issue, right?  With menopause you stop producing so much, and with the blocker you can't use what little you've got left.  Same kind of thing.  So there!)

So here I sit.  I can't make any plans for the next many many months because I don't know what will be happening when.
The medical oncologist  said that the estrogen blocker he'd want to use is called Femara (Letrozole).  So I did some research.  Apparently there are three blockers out there, and this is the one with the mildest side effects.  

Oh.  My.  God!

If this is the mildest, I'd hate to even contemplate the others.  Want to scare yourself?  Check out the user reviews on
 http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/rxlist_view_comments.asp?drug=femara&questionid=fdb4363_pem or 
http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drugreview-4363-Femara+Oral.aspx?drugid=4363&drugname=Femara+Oral.  
Side effects include severe bone pain, joint pain, weight gain, insomnia, spontaneous bone fractures, headaches, ... to list a few.  

Yeah, some people it will affect more than others, so I sorted the reviews to see the positive ones.  They listed joint pain, bone pain, headache ....
Oh dear. If this is on top of my fibro, oh dear. On the other hand, it's possible it's no more pain that I usually experience, just in different places. These women might think it's so awful because they so seldom experience random pain, so maybe I'm conditioned to pain enough to just pass it off.


But really, I'd rather not have to find out.

The worst part is that you will be on this poison for YEARS!


You know all those women who go off to Europe or Mexico, or to fringe nutritionists, to get alternative treatments?  Now I know why.  Sometimes the price of continuing to breathe just is just too high.

--------------------------------

Philosophical musings:

My theory is that everyone "has cancer" multiple times in their lives.  A cell somewhere goes rogue and doesn't behave as it should.  But the immune system recognizes it as "not mine" and kills it and its progeny very quickly, and you never knew it was there.  Only when the immune system does not recognize that there's something wrong, when the rogue cells somehow escape detection, does the person "Have Cancer".

Right now we attempt to excise and kill off rogue cells with poisons.  It's all we've got.  But in doing so, we also damage the immune system.  That seems counter intuitive.

It seems to me that we should perhaps be looking closely at what allows the rogues to escape detection, and attack that.  Looking at how to energize and direct the immune system.  (That's the clinical trial Jay was enrolled in, and it was sort of crudely working when he died, but it was so experimental that he wasn't allowed to enroll until he was so damaged by all his earlier treatments that his organs simply gave up.  He couldn't survive long enough to see success.)

So it bothers me a little bit that all the treatments planned for me are concentrating on the precise characteristics of THIS tumor.  It has been excised, wide excision with clean margins, and there has been no signs of metastasis.   Maybe we should ask why the immune system didn't detect it, and fix that?  Why do we assume that a recurrence would be the same tumor (progeny, escaped cells), and not a brand new tumor with different characteristics?  If this tumor is estrogen positive, then it makes sense for an estrogen blocker to prevent the growth of "children" of this tumor (although from what they're saying, there shouldn't be any), but why do we assume all future tumors would follow the same rules?  If they're thinking I could throw another tumor in this or the other breast, maybe we should look at why tumors got started in the first place, and why the immune system missed it, and attack that issue instead?

I'm just wondering.
.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

5081 Lots of little stuff

 Saturday, August 20, 2016

"The big thieves hang the little ones."
-- Czech Proverb -- 

--------------------------------------------------------------------

The breast.  I had hoped that after the surgery and lab reports I'd have a better idea of what's going to happen.

Nope.

I got a tiny bit of additional info, and it's not the best.  The stage is still good, at T2aN0M0, and it's stage 2a instead of 1 only because it's .2 cm too large in one of three measurements to qualify for T1, and there's a lot of other good indicators.  So that's good.  However, there's a bunch of stuff they look at after it's removed to judge the grade of the tumor - how active it is, how "deformed" the cells are and so on, and I score 8 out of 8.  It's a very nasty tumor, high grade, as high as they get.  Not so good - or so I thought.

So, last week I had my first visit with the oncologist.  The first thing he said was, "Congratulations!   You are now cancer-free!"  

I gave him a look that said, "Yeah, sure, so why am I sitting here?  Let's not play that game, ok?"

I found out nothing useful.  I had assumed that cells would be sent out immediately after the surgery for an Oncotype DX test.  They check the genetic makeup of the cells and it gives all kinds of information, like the likelihood of recurrence, susceptibility to various treatments, and so on.  In fact, most oncologists no longer base treatment on the stage and grade any more.  Oncotype DX, although expensive and not covered by some insurance, is now considered the standard of care.

Anyway, it was NOT ordered automatically, and he had just received my files, and just ordered it (duh?) so it will be another week or two or three before we get the results and I find out whether I'll need hormonal therapy and/or chemotherapy.  In the meantime, I do still have to have radiation (Grrrr! Because I had the lumpectomy instead of the mastectomy I wanted.)

No one has contacted me yet about starting the radiation.  And I'm still having some kind of nasty reaction to the blue dye.  I don't know if that will delay stuff or not.

Sigh.

------------------------------

How to thread a needle.  Someone will say they can't thread needles, and then you see them hold the needle in front of them, squint, and try to push the thread into the eye.  Yeah.  That doesn't work.  It especially doesn't work if you wet the thread.  Here's a hint I've never seen anywhere before, but it always works.  

First, make sure the end is cut super bluntly, no trailing fuzz.  Now note the way the thread is twisted.  Put the end of the thread between the sides of your thumb and index finger, and roll it slightly, a tiny bit, in the direction that will tighten the twist.  Then pull the thread down until you can just barely see the tip between the thumb and finger.  Take the needle and slip the eye over the tip of the thread, holding the thread tightly and pushing the needle down between the thumb and finger.  Roll the thumb and finger a tiny bit up, so it's past the needle, but still gripping the tip of the thread.  Pull the needle down more, and you should find it on the thread.

Might take a little practice, but once you get it, it works first time every time.

My eyes are so bad right now (I'm about three years overdue for a prescription upgrade) that I can't even manage the huge eye on the sewing machine needle any more.  So I just remove the needle, thread it using the above method, and then put it back in the machine. 

----------------------------

Want to have a little fun?  Look up the word "trumpery" in the dictionary.  It'll probably be definition #2.

----------------------------

Donald Trump has been talking about an ideological test of "American values" for visa applicants (he doesn't seen to understand that there are different types of visas, oh well), to verify that they agree with things like religious freedom, gender equality, gay rights, and so on.  

I'm frustrated because I can't find exactly what values Mr. Trump is interested in testing.  Most pundits seem to think it's stuff like the short list above, but that can't be it, because those are all "disgusting liberal" values.  If we can't allow people into this country who would fail a test like that, then most of the population of the southern states and almost all of his supporters should be deported.

It's been Republicans who have fought and legislated against all those "values" over the past few years.  So it's gotta be other stuff, but what?





Comments from Trump supporters on this video insist that it's fake, that the interviewed people must be actors.  Uh, no, I've talked with a few Trump folks, and this is exactly what you get.  From the article linked below, "...current Republican congressional Rep. Jody Hice said that a woman should run for political office only if her husband consents to it since husbands have “authority” over their wives. Before you dismiss Hice’s views as being an exception, he easily won his election in 2014 and was vocally supported by well known conservative Erick Erickson."

This article is interesting, but I can't figure out how to link only the pertinent article, so ya gotta look fast, because it might scroll off the page:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/15/trump-s-ideological-vetting-plan-would-banish-most-republicans.html

----------------------------------

This is super cute. I guess I didn't realize tortoises could have so much personality and would stand up for their rights. "MY ball!!"