Home Management Whack-a-Mole

Good News! The handyperson (ok, man) that Jody tracked down was the TCBomb and our new microwave is all good and installed!

Bad News! Our Internets crapped out shortly thereafter!

Good News! Despite the Bangalore Boneheads saying that we need a service call, I managed to fix the connection by unsplitting the coax (since we aren't using the landline) and running the line out of the wall into the modem!

Tomorrow's goal: Buy groceries and put in tomato plants!

PS: Don't mistake my affection for pain meds for an addiction! Exclamation point!


Today marks the six month anniversary since the colonoscopy that all but diagnosed my cancer and sixty days since my surgery.

By my count, I have five more chemo treatments, with the pack getting taken off for the last time 65 days from today, then my reversal surgery about three weeks after that.

I know I'm grasping at silver linings, but I do feel fortunate that this whole process is broken into very discrete chunks, each of which has its own milestones and halfway points, making the whole thing at least seem more manageable. I mean, if my treatment was surgery and then eight months of chemo, I think it would have been a little harder to face.

Six months. I think chocolate is in order.


TV Timeout


PS: Pixies!

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go to the Movies

I finally got around to scheduling a thrift store pick up for all of our tag sale leave behinds, so I have been going nuts, picking up my piles of crap and tossing anything that I have even briefly thought about getting rid of into the boxes on the curb.

And in half an hour, we are going to catch an matinée of Iron Man. And I am so having a biggie Dr. Pepper and movie popcorn, Oscar be damned.


Stupid BS Doesn't Stop When You Have Cancer

That microwave delivery that I thought would include installation? Didn't. And both batteries on my cordless drill? Dead.

Chemo is a Hell of a Drug

...and not just because it gets all medieval on cancer (let's hope, anyhow), but because I went from feeling like I'd been hit by a mack truck last night to feeling just about normal today. I mean sure, I still have the cold sensitivity (I'm never going to burn through my Jamba Juice gift card at this rate!) and the heartburn is getting old, but the energy level is good, the appetite is decent, and I'm in the right headspace to drink beverages.

Think about that a second--cancer and my treatment for it is so deeply ingrained in my so called life that it actually affects my attitude towards imbibing, and I'm not even talking alcohol! I actually have to psych myself up to drink something as mundane as a glass of water, and only partly because I have to microwave it. Which is funny because we're getting ours replaced today, so no nuking of bevvies for me or the wee babe until the shiny new one is installed.

So what's been going on...well, the weekend was pretty low-key (see: chemo) but we did roll out for the traditional neighborhood gathering that occurs on the Monday evening of every summer holiday. We brought roasted asparagus (drizzle liberally with olive oil, season with S&P, then cook @ 350° for 15 mins) which seemed to be well received because the cupcakes I also made were a total disaster.

Fortunately, my appetite was cooperating and there was a fantastic assortment of veggie offerings (personal fave: asian slaw. Mmm...rice wine vinegar...), so I ate my face off. I paid for it a bit later, but Oscar can kiss my nonfunctioning ass.

I guess I'm still trying to get the hang of the cycles of my chemo treatments--what days I'll feel good, not so much, etc. I mean, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that I should get infused on a Thursday, the 5FU pack taken off Saturday afternoon, feel decent Monday, then steamrolled on Tuesday, especially when that's a day care day for little miss, thereby giving me a much-needed break.

Maybe self-care (which doesn't happen on a daily basis anymore, sorry to ruin anyone's pristine image of yours truly) takes more out of me than I give myself credit for? Maybe the weekend had caught up with me?

Or maybe it was all the probing and personal questions I answered during the telephone interview portion of a research study I'm participating in that ground me down. Questions like "Do you feel less feminine? Are you dissatisfied with your body? Do you feel like you aren't as worthwhile as other people?" tend to have a "Now that you mention it..." effect on those of us who are susceptible to depressive episodes.

BUT. Today is a new day, the sun is shining (and there's actually some heat to go with it), I'm sitting in my yard with my sweet babe yapping and frolicking away in her pack 'n play, and I've got one good week until Sisyphus has to roll the chemo boulder up the hill again.


Radio Silence

Hey all--you won't be hearing much outta me today as I'm feeling absolute garbage and need to pick up the house like it's my job.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.


Rectal CA Q&A

Alright everybody, I know I've been super TMI, full-disclosey, "Oh Jebus, Sugarmouth/brigita, you can keep some of that to yourself for the love of all things proper" on this blog, but I wanted to open up this post to any and all queries that you, my loyal readers, may have about cancer, living with cancer, my particular humdingy variety of cancer, etc., ad nauseum.

That said, if you should happen to have any unanswered questions, please leave them in the comments and I will answer them in future posts.

Thanks and happy Memorial Day weekend! May it be filled with cheap gas, tasty grilled food, and cold beer*.

*Unless of course it's Busch Light, in which case, you know what to do**.

**Short of putting it in an unheated oven as a joke during a party Friday night and forgetting about it between then and when your surly pain-in-the-ass roommate (as in actual room, yeah, that was fun) preheats the oven for a pizza on Sunday evening and the aforementioned can of beer explodes, only increasing her chagrin.


Immediate Effects

  • My eyeballs ache
  • My fingertips are tingling
  • My lips are starting to purse involuntarily
20 minutes later:
  • All 10 fingers feel like they have fallen asleep
  • My voice is cracking
  • It's a little uncomfortable to swallow
Hour later:
  • Tip of my nose is numbish
  • Thighs are tingling (stop snickering, pervs)
  • Yup, still hurts to cry
3 hours later:
  • Continued facial spasms
  • Some in the hands as well
  • I'm pooped

Where the Poison is the Remedy*

Today is chemo #3 (I've got about an hour left on my infusion) and I realized that I've yet to paint a picture for you guys as I did my 5-days-a-week-for-6-weeks radiation treatments.

So...chemo. Today I arrived a good 15 minutes late for my lab appointment, which is really no big deal since the lab operates on a first come/served basis. After about 15 minutes of waiting, I was called in to have blood drawn to make sure my blood counts aren't complete crap.

One of the "benefits" of having a port is that they can draw blood from it, eliminating the need to get stuck with a needle. Well, there's still a needle, but I slather the port with numbing cream the night before to make the stick less painful.

This was the first time I'd had my labs drawn from the port, and I have to say, I really don't think it makes things any easier as the tech had to pull out all manner of accoutrements and sterile whatnots, although I suppose he saved me the step of getting stuck for the treatment since they just leave the tube in. He also flushed the line something like seventeen times. Whatever--am I done yet?

So labs done, I wait about 30 minutes to see my onc, which of course means meeting with a nurse-type person, having vitals taken and answering those delightful "what meds/supplements are you taking" question, then waiting another 30 minutes to see the doctor.

The good news is that I pack for chemo like I'm going on a friggin sleepover, so I have all manner of stuff in my bag of tricks to keep me busy. That, and I really, really like my chemo onc (itty bitty doctor crush) so the delay doesn't bend me too out of shape.

We go over what I mentioned to the nurse-type person, he palpates my belly and nodes, we make small talk about the holiday weekend, and that's pretty much that.

One change--I get to skip the whole meeting-with-the-doctor thing next go 'round (assuming I don't get flattened by whatever bug Violet brings home from daycare) and will proceed directly from lab to chemo, for a savings of about 90 mins or so. SWEET!

Ok, so from Dr. Onc, we proceed to chemotherapy, where I check in and wait some more.

(I know, so far this is the most scintillating blog post you've ever read. EV-AR. Try to contain yourselves--there's more to come!!)

Eventually, my name gets called (which they ask me to spell--this will happen several times as they verify that the right person is getting the right drugs), and a nurse walks me back to the chemo suites. The first time I got a room with a bed, the second time I got a room with a chair, but today I got a room with a chair but no door. I like having a door. I also like turning the lights off. Hopefully next time I will get both.

A different nurse comes in a little while later and gets a line of saline going into the line coming out of my port (left by the lab). I wait and wait and wait some more as we wait for the chemo orders get filled. Eventually, the Oxaliplatin and Leucovorin arrives, the nurse puts on her hazmat suit and calls in another nurse for a double-check, comparing the drug labels to my patient wristband.

Once everything's hung, it's basically a twoish hour wait until it's all processed. Once that's done, they'll hook me up to the 46h 5FU infusion pack and at some point before I leave I'll have to get trained on how to deaccess my port so I'm not a hostage to the infusion center.

Other than that and today's impromptu visit by a nutritionist (who came into my area and read my chart for several minutes before introducing herself, nice manners, lady), that's pretty much the extent of the chemo routine.

*Anyone get the reference?

Where the Hell Do You Think You're Going, Young Lady?

No, you aren't grounded, this is all about the new poll! But first, a review...

While the results for the old poll indicate that a majority of you think I should receive both a written apology and compensation for the bank's overeager ATM's consumption of my totally valid, unexpired card, a part of me thinks that the real majority abstained from voting (the last poll got 40+ votes) because the topic was both lame, entitled, and self-absorbed. Noted, silent quasi-majority, noted.

So the new poll is a simple query--Are you leaving town for the holiday and if so, how? Feel free to leave any holiday specifics (neighborhood BBQ, golf tournament, tedious home improvement projects, etc) in the comments.

Me, this is an on weekend for chemo (getting infused as we speak, in fact), so we're gonna lay kinda low, but Jody is taking the majority of next week off, so I'm hoping that we can catch a matinée of Iron Man one of the days Violet is in daycare.


DREAMLOG: The Lighter Version

Last night I had a mildly inappropriate dream about an actor who starred in a brilliant but wildly unpopular show that had once aired on Fox.

Aside to the husband: Nothing happened. I'm even faithful in my dreamlife. :)


Periodic Rainclouds of the Spotty Mind

Last night I dreamed I was pregnant.


From Freakout to Geekout


Now all they have to do is bring back 3-2-1 Contact and my cherished childhood PBS trifeca will be complete.

A Good Old-Fashioned Mama Freakout

After watching Violet suffer through and recover from a myriad of symptoms (104.1° fever, wet cough, spots on her diaper area and legs, serious mouth pain, as well as uncharacteristic irritability, inability to go to sleep easily, and lack of appetite), I folded my "aw, it's nothing" cards and took her into the clinic yesterday, more to make me feel better than her.

Turns out that it wasn't nothing, it was hand, foot & mouth disease. Cue the irrational maternal waterworks and the initial confusion with hoof and mouth disease. "That thing they had in Britain?!" No, crazymom.

The good news is that--even though I've never heard HFMD--all kids get it, it's totally harmless, and it's viral, so even if I'd jumped on things sooner the treatment would have been the same: keep her comfortable, hydrated, and let it run its course.

Better news from the weekend is the fact that the neighborhood garage sales have come and gone...I worked my atrophied ass off and netted nearly $350 for my efforts, getting rid of lots of baby gear and maternity clothes, thereby increasing my chances of conceiving down the road.



Like Eating Glass

  • The Notwist -- "Chemicals"
  • The Clash -- "Lost in the Supermarket"
  • Mission of Burma -- "Academy Fight Song"
  • Cloud Cult -- "Take Your Medicine"
  • The Postal Service -- "This Place is a Prison"
  • REM -- "Leave"
  • Modest Mouse -- "Edit the Sad Parts"
  • Fugazi -- "Waiting Room"
  • McLusky -- "To Hell With Good Intentions"
  • Hole -- "Violet"
  • Death Cab for Cutie -- "Why You'd Want to Live Here"
  • Fiona Apple -- "Never is a Promise"
  • Bloc Party -- "Like Eating Glass"
  • Built to Spill -- "You Were Right"
  • The Mountain Goats -- "This Year"



Failing to Plan is Panning to Flail

I saw my therapist today, which basically amounted to me running my mouth for 50 minutes. Worth every insurance-covered penny, I tell you.


REALLY!?! The Chemo Edition*

I'd like to introduce a new segment to this here blog o'nonsense:

Except instead of Seth & Amy, it's just li'l ol' sugar-mouthed me. So here goes:

Chemo comes with a rainbow of side effects. Any friggin five year old can tell you that. There's the nausea and the trots and the funny taste in your mouth and the hair loss (or "thinning" as they say in my case) and the fatigue and the fun of having something called a PowerPort implanted into your chest and the exquisite cold sensitivity which must be a BITCH if you're getting treatment in the wintertime and the absurd fact that my skin is so photosensitive that standing in a thunderstorm for five minutes could result in a nasty sunburn, but the most recent side effect, the one that no one told me about?

It hurts to cry. As in, when the tears start to flow, my eyes clench in pain.

REALLY!?! I am always on the brink of tears. Every day. In the car, on the couch, at the store, walking, eating, sleeping, breathing.

Don't get me wrong--most of the time I'm pretty chipper, but my emotional fuse is about thisshort and the slightest thing can trigger the waterworks. Before cancer, I was a robot. Now, I'm a sponge-faced pantywaist.

As it turns out, I'm totally fine with that. I'm secure enough in my shit these days to cry in front of anyone and everyone (I also have little control over these things, so it's either be comfortable with it or never leave the house).

But now letting those emotions out just causes me further discomfort and distress?! Really!?! GAH.

*Yes, I know I'm overdoing it with the "Blahblah, The Such-and-Such Edition" thing.

Oh, and apropos of the delightful Amy Poehler--who is totally preggo with GOB's baby--I went on a mom date with my GF down the street last night to see Baby Mama and it was hi-larious, although I think the fact that I have pushed a person out of my body helped with the humor.

Strong Like Bull[shit]

I'm feeling much better today guys, thanks for all your kind words, comments & emails.

Of course I could always be better...had a hell of a time falling asleep last night and then Little Miss Sunshine woke up at 5am this morning, so maybe I'm just buzzed on sleep deprivation or something.


Blog Poll, the Cranky Edition

Before I get to the new poll, let's review the old one:

By a narrow margin (28% vs. 26%), Hawaii just edged out the Caribbean as your guys' pick for Brigitapalooza II with the Med a distant third (13%). I'm guessing that the results might have something more to do with my readership (left coast vs. right coast) than anything...unless you guys know something I don't?

As for the current poll, here's the backstory: we were winding up our time at the Farmers' Market this weekend (note: Hook's 15-year cheddar isn't 33% better than their 10-year) and I wanted to pay my sister back for her bankrolling my yardsaling on Friday (I actually left the house without my wallet. Dumbass).

I rolled up to the first ATM I could find (since my bank is branchless it reimburses all fees), and proceeded to make a withdrawl. Everything seemed fine until the machine said that my card was expired and then didn't spit it back out.

Totally peeved (because my bank is always on top of sending out replacement cards waaaay before they expire), I marched into the bank (which was the size of a closet) and asked for them to open the machine so they could retrieve my card.

The clueless teller--and shortly after, her equally clueless manager--told me that they were unable to open the machine, and that the card--which must have been expired--would be sent to my bank, which would subsequently contact me.


So I get home and promptly call my bank, whereupon they apologized for the mix-up, verified my suspicion that the card was not due to expire until 2009, and issued a card to be overnighted to me (although, because of the weekend, it won't be arriving until tomorrow?).

All that said, I have to ask, what do you think the bank of the card-eating ATM owes me?


I recently joined the SpaceBooks about a thousand years after it was relevant to do so and for no good reason other than apparently there's a group out there that is anti-my Dad (who is retired from teaching) and I wanted to teach them a lesson or something but then laid down for a nap and forgot.

That said, I was just friending someone and got the following captcha:

I thought it was a little uncanny how it perfectly captured my current state of being.

Immunocompromised, Much?

I asked Jody to take Vi to day care today and have spent the whole morning on the couch, in my jammies.

I feel like absolute garbage. Ugh.

ETA: Just to clarify, I feel so crap on account of catching yet another one of Violet's colds.

ETA2: Oh yeah, and apparently my hair is starting to fall out.


Boo! Hiss!

The only thing worse than suffering from a chemo hangover (fatigue, low-grade nausea, clumsiness) is suffering from a chemo hangover and having to bid adieu to my lovely sister, dear bil, and delightful niece.

I can't tell you how great it was to see you! Sorry the weather didn't cooperate more (at least we got to go to the market!) but maybe we can fire up the fam for a reunion over the fourth!

Love you guys! Your baby is so best. :)


PHEW! I Didn't Kill Gamera!!!

For those of you who didn't live with me Junior year of college, first off, count yourselves lucky.

But the point of this post is that my sister just pieced together the foggy memories I have of the turtle I had at college.

my sister "liberated" this turtle from a pet store in Ohio where she suspected the kids working there were smoking pot. She then came out to visit (probably over Thanksgiving), and left the turtle--then named Raptor, rechristened Gamera--behind.

I have memories of being woefully ill informed about turtle care, dropping the poor reptile on numerous occasions, and feeding it whatever I appropriated from the dining hall, but I could not for the life of me remember how the story ended and just assumed that I managed to kill the poor bugger through neglect and zany drunken antics.

But no! It seems as though I managed to keep it alive in spite of my complete inability to properly care for myself, much less a poor defenseless animal, as Meg tells me that Gamera was adopted by a classroom at the school where my Dad was teaching at the time.

So Hooray! My cancer is not punishment for animal abuse! Between that revelation, and the crapload of fantastic baby/kids gear we got at the yard sales, the incredible home made mac 'n cheese my professionally-trained brother-in-law made for us, I am having a stupendous day.


Small Price to Pay for Some Fresh Bateman

One would think that a stupid fucking chemo infusion suite would have some stupid fucking Kleenex. Stupid fucking Hollywood with their dramatic child birth scenes.

Cranky aside to Hollywood: only 15% or something of women have their water spontaneously break at the beginning of labor! Cut the shit, people!

But enough about the indie darling, apparently a 10:30 chemo appointment time translates to your actually getting the drugs delivered at 1:00. Meg & Co. have been at the airport now for two hours.

Hopefully, I'll be able to pick them up, ferry them home, turn around and grab Miss Vi from day care before her contract time (4:30), but I'm not feeling too confident about that. Fortunately, the day care folks have a heads up and hell, I have a pretty good excuse.

In other news, my nose feels funny.


Supporter Shoutouts

This week's thanks goes to...

  • Rog & Shloe for taking a detour out of their long trip home to visit li'l old me, talking me off of my liberal ledge, and bestowing me with the comfiest blankie and tastiest cookies within 100 miles. I hope we can repay the visit before too long!
  • Jenny, Tom & Molly for their wonderful care package, complete with pink & green (!!!) jammie bottoms, baby-safe sunblock (since the sun is actually back), and a eBay gift certificate...someone knows my shopping habits all too well. :)
And as always, thanks to you guys for reading and commenting!

Posting may be sparse these next few days as tomorrow is both chemo tx #2 and the arrival of my sister + bro-in-law + 6mos old niece, whom I've yet to meet. Hopefully an otherwise bleh weekend will be a great one!


Scenes from the Kitchen

Here's a couple of pics from around the Cancer Slayer's lair:

This is a shot of the door that leads out to the garage. I've saved all of the cards that people have sent me, but there were some that especially fired me up, made me happier, etc.

I'd been trying to brainstorm some sort of board rigged up with old wine corks, but finally I just said to hell with it, and went nuts with the scotch tape.

I walk by this door dozens of times a day and seeing all the little bits of cards, notes, drawings, stickers, bows, whathaveyou really does cheer me up when I need it.

This I think requires little explanation. :)



Over the last few weeks since my surgery, I've come to realize that there is a difference between being sick and feeling sick.

Being sick is having to go to the hospital.
Feeling sick is looking around and realizing you'd been treated in every clinic within eyesight.

Being sick is needing surgery.
Feeling sick is counting the number of tubes coming out of your body.

Being sick is needing to take pain meds.
Feeling sick is the panic that sets in when you run out of pills and don't have a refill waiting.

Being sick is losing your appetite.
Feeling sick is your skinny pants falling off your hips and your tits shriveling up.

Being sick is fatigue, nausea, weakness.
Feeling sick is admitting that you can't adequately take care of yourself, much less your baby and household.

Being sick is not having your body work the way it is supposed to.
Feeling sick is being unable to stop reliving the moment you were told you have cancer.


I'm Just Going to Say This One Thing and Then Go Back to Blogging About My Aches and Pains

This administration has GONE TOO FAR.

See: "Now watch this drive."

ETA: Thanks to Rog & Shloe for talking me off of the liberal ledge. I still can't stand Dubya, but at least I have a little more inside knowledge re: "Mission Accomplished."

Brigitapalooza: What Happens in Chicago Gets Broadcast All Over the Interwebs

Many thanks again to all of you Brigitapalooza attendees that put your digicams to great use and sent me your pics. Thanks to the magical products of the Google Borg, I've been able to import all of your shots into a Picasa album for your viewing pleasure.