Thursday, June 08, 2017

5103 I'm still here, and there, and ....

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rabbi Julius Gordon: "Love is not blind - it sees more, not less.
But because it sees more, it is willing to see less."


Wow.  It's been something like six weeks since I updated here, and a month since the end (May 8th?) of radiation.  My absence was not on purpose - it's just that there were higher priorities, and very little energy.

With the doctors I kept denying that I was fatigued.  I was wrong, I guess.  It crept up on me so slowly I didn't recognize it.  After the first two rounds of chemo I didn't feel a need for daytime naps at all, and I guess that was my definition of fatigue.  On Tuesday, May 23, I woke up in the morning with all kinds of energy - suddenly!  It was as if someone had flipped my on-switch overnight.  Really, it was really that sudden.  Pow!  I'm back!

And I can't believe how bad the house is.  I hadn't done laundry in months.  The piles of dirty clothes were huge (yeah, I have a LOT of clothes, I've worn things in the past few months that I hadn't seen in years).  Literally mountains.  I can't remember when I last changed the sheets, and it's hard to change the sheets just yet because the bed footboard and the end of the bed are covered in "can get another wearing out of this maybe" clothes.

The day after I finished the radiation I got started on the anti-aromatase FEMARA® (letrozole), which sort of blocks estrogen.  There's some confusion as to whether my tumor was estrogen-sensitive or not, so the doctor decided to err on the side of caution.  If I can tolerate it, I'll be taking it for five years.  Some of the possible side effects are significant, but so far all I've noticed is hot flashes - about 8 or 10 short and tolerable flashes a day.  That's kind of funny - when I went through menopause I had a total of two hot flashes the entire time.  

Other side effects include muscle, bone, and joint pain, and I've got that, but I've ALWAYS had so much random pain that I can't tell what's the normal pain and what might be the medication.   

Well, we'll see where it goes.

Last Friday Daughter and I wandered all over Ikea (a big store) for almost three hours, and I was very proud of my energy - didn't need to sit down at all.  Saturday I was still fine.  Sunday my hips and thighs rebelled, and I'm still achy.  I'll have to start a regular exercise program.


It took me forever to clear up the medical bills mess.  The breast center, the oncology area (chemo and radiation), radiology, and some but not all of the doctors bill separately.  I have to register anew every time I go to the medical center, and every day's procedures (every registration) gets a new account number.  The first bill will be itemized, but any subsequent reminders for the same day won't say anything about what it's for, just that X dollars are owed.  I was often confused as to whether or not I'd already paid it and my payment and the reminder had crossed in the mail.  Sometimes when I registered they wanted my share of the out-of-pocket up front, but mostly they didn't.  The upfront payments were estimates, since it hadn't gone through the insurance yet, and then when the "real" bill arrived, it might or might not show the upfront amount I'd already paid.

So as I got more and more tired, it got harder and harder to figure out what the status was.  It got to the point where a few bills went to collection, and then it got even more complicated, since the collection notices didn't say what the account number, procedure, department, or date of service was - just the amount due, which was not necessarily unique enough to match up to a bill.  


So once the on-switch got flipped and I could think again, I spent some time in an few billing offices and got it all straightened out.  You know those up-front payments that didn't show as credits on bills?  It turns out that apparently those amounts were credited to earlier bills (with no notice to me), so the nice ladies in the billing offices were able to hand me several older bills with "Don't pay this one, or this one, or this one...) written on them.  The only way I'd have known not to pay them would have been the lack of "overdue" reminders.  

This, by the way, has been my experience with hospital billing for centuries.  There are some real horror stories with Jay's billing.  Albany Medical Center had one, count 'em, one, little old lady handling all billing and payments, and she was easily confused.  

Last night, at midnight, I drove to the post office and dropped the last batch of checks and payment slips in the outside mailbox.

Very large load off.

There will still be bills to come.  I decided to keep the implanted chemo port because I'm sure there will be future blood draws and possibly other scans possibly with contrast and my veins are not cooperative for stuff like that, so I need to go in and have the port flushed every six weeks, and I have to see the chemo doc every four weeks (but I suspect that will end up being every six weeks, since he's in that same area).  But those bills won't be arriving in quick succession, so I should be able to keep on top of them.

Getting late.  Bye for now....

Sunday, April 30, 2017

5102 Radiation Flagellation

 Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sometimes you can't really know what someone is saying to you. You hear the words, but sometimes the words carry a meaning different from their dictionary definition. If you have no other basis for interpretation, you interpret from your own base. In an intimate relationship, the only way to fully understand the other person's messages, or lack thereof, is to understand their motivations, how their mind works, what their concerns and priorities are. If you don't understand that, you don't have an intimate relationship. You're just skimming along the surface. -- Me --


 Taking a shower the other day, I found myself wishing someone would invent MY shower.  It's kind of like a car wash.  Jets shoot water straight out from the wall for the full length of the body (temperature, height, and pressure adjustable).  Then you push a button and soapy water comes out of the jets, covering you in foam, and then shuts off.  There's a pause while you can either scrub yourself, or stand next to a rotating bar covered with strips of that stuff that's used for those scrubby puffs (you know, the material that doesn't hold water and rinses clean) which slaps you like a mean massage.  Another button gets you a full body spray rinse with clear water.  Another button gets jets of hot air.  Clean, dry, and done.  If it's good enough for cars and dishes, why not for people?  I want this!


In many Victorian novels, a woman is described as having a "long upper lip"  (or sometimes a short one, but usually long).  I was never too sure how to picture that.  Is that a wide mouth?  Then why not describe it as a wide mouth?

I recently found the answer, I don't remember where, but here it is.  That central groove from the nose to the upper lip is called the philtrim, and it's the philtrim that's described as long or short.  So a woman with a "long upper lip" doesn't have a long lip at all - it's that she has more distance between her nose and mouth, and that was once considered more aristocratic (a long face).


I'm almost finished with the radiation.  The last should be May 8th, I think.  I say "I think" because they keep changing things on me.  

Back when the plan was based on the needle biopsy lab results, I was told I'd have a lumpectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy, then 33 sessions of radiation, and then an anti-estrogen for a few years.  After the lumpectomy, after someone (oh, yeah, that was me) thought to check the lab results on the excised tumor and it was discovered the report was drastically different (I still think they screwed up and mixed up my needle biopsy with someone else, because it's so very different), I was told when starting chemo that I'd have six rounds instead of four.  That grew to eight.  

When I started radiation, I was told I'd have 28 sessions of whole breast, and 5 "boost" sessions at the end, which is electron (I think) radiation focused on the tumor bed, for a total of 33.   Last Tuesday was session number 24.  

My regular radiation oncologist was on vacation last Tuesday, so I saw a different doctor, and he was concerned because my skin was peeling in the crease under the breast, so he decided my skin needed a break, so the next day we'd start the boost, and then finish the "last two whole breast sessions" at the end.  I pointed out that there would actually be four more whole after the five boost, and he said there'd be seven boost, not five.    My head is spinning.   I wish they'd stop changing things on me.

Another reason this bothers me is that everything I've read cautions that the whole breast radiation must not skip any sessions, since it must be tightly consecutive to be accumulative (I guess weekends don't count, eh?).  And there was one Monday we had to skip because the machine was down.  So, uh, will those last two be wasted effort?  

I hope the regular guy is back by next Tuesday.  I'll have the fifth boost that day, and maybe he'll say to go back to five?  


Everybody says that the radiation doesn't hurt.  That's true.  The machine buzzes for a few seconds, and you feel nothing.  Everything else I read said there may be some skin problems, like a bad sunburn.  Sometimes the skin gets really bad, like blisters, weeping, and yuck.

I've got a lot of red.  The worst part is in the crease under the breast.  That got fiery red, then grey, then started to peel (but no blisters).  That's why the substitute doc decided to "take a break" and do the boosts now.  Where it peeled it's new pink skin, and it's not at all painful. None of the skin is painful.

But everywhere I've read has said the internal breast shouldn't hurt.  Some of the scar tissue in there might get hard and ache, stuff like that.  But wow!  I HURT!

I mention the pain in the breast to the doctor every Tuesday, and he just passes it off.  Like he thinks I'm hysterical or overreacting.  On the outer side, toward the underarm, it feels like someone has grabbed a handful of breast inside and is squeezing and twisting it.  Not all the time.  Randomly, a few times a day, for like 20 seconds, which is long enough, believe me!  On the inner side, near the sternum, that's like bee stings inside there.  Three times in the past five days it's felt like someone was stabbing me over and over with an ice pick.  Twice I was driving home from a session, on the Garden State Parkway at the time, and had to pull over until it stopped.  I hiss and ouch ouch ouch with every stab.  

I can't wait to stop beating myself up

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:

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.


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.

(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 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: