Wednesday, May 05, 2010
My Aunt Elinor passed away in January, at the age of 89. When she had to move into a nursing home in 2003 following a stroke, some of her belongings were put into a rented storage unit. We didn't clean it out right away after she died, because of the cold winter weather; then plans to do so kept getting put off with other things that came up and that project was put on the back burner. But I talked to my mom and dad and offered to help my dad get it cleaned it yesterday; I could not see the sense in them still having to pay the rent to store all that stuff. And I figured yesterday would be a good day, as I was on my 2nd week of a two week break from the chemo, and if we waited any longer, it might be another 2 weeks before I'd feel up to it.
Everything she had fit into the back of my dad's truck; about 90% of it was boxes of old dishes. The truck has a cap on it, and my dad couldn't really climb way back there to fit everything in, so I got into the back of the truck and stacked the things up while he carried them out. Lots of dust! On the boxes, in the boxes, and in the building itself; and the boxes smelled that musty smell that things get when they sit stored and unused for long periods of time. I felt coated with that dust by the time were were done. I'm very thankful we only had to make one trip to get everything out.
I rode out to my parent's house with my dad to help him unload the boxes into the garage for now, until my mom has time to sort through everything. Most likely, we will end up donating most of the dishes and kitchen stuff to Goodwill. When we had to clean out her room at the nursing home after she died, we left her clothes there for other residents that might need them. It's sad, but a lot of patients just get "dumped" there by their families with not much more than the clothes on their back.
We didn't go through most of the boxes very much, but we had some laughs as we found things that brought back some memories. She was kind of "eccentric" and had some oddball stuff in there. But it didn't feel sad to me; I think because of the time that has passed since her death, and I was able to detach myself enough to just get the job done. I will always have my memories of her, her stuff is just "stuff". She was always a pack rat, so there was a lot of junk mixed in with the more valuable things.
I thought I'd be aching all over from kind of bending myself into a pretzel at times in the back of the truck, but it really wasn't bad. No, the worst part was my allergies. The pollen has been really bad, and all that dust made it worse. It really irritated my eyes and made them red, watery and painful. They are a little better today, but not much. So far my over the counter eye drops are not helping. I will bring that up to my doctor when I see him Tuesday; maybe I need some stronger prescription drops. Watery eyes are also a side effect of my chemo.
Feeling very fatigued today; with going shopping in two stores on Monday, and the hours spent helping my dad load and unload the truck yesterday. I didn't think yesterday was going to take as much out of me as it did. But I'm glad that project is finally done and over with.
Today I met my friends for lunch at Bob Evans; it was the lunch that was postponed last week because of my low white blood counts. I was so tired when I got up today, but determined to make it to this lunch. I have chemo next week and I don't know after that when I'll be able to get together with them again; if my WBC drops like it did this last chemo, my doctor will want me staying home and avoiding public places and sick people for at least a few days. Even though I was tired, I was glad I went. We had a fun time. I tried a salad from their "fit from the farm" menu; don't remember the exact name of it, but it was made of spinach, chicken, cranberries, apples and a few pecans. It was very good, thought I thought the dressing was a little bit too sweet.
I thought about going to Walmart to buy my fabric for the chemo hats, but decided to wait another day; as tired as I was, I thought it was best not to push it. I'll go another day when I am feeling better and don't have anything else planned for the day. I have nowhere I have to go tomorrow, so I am going to sleep in. I'm hoping some good sleep will make my eyes feel better.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
My mom and my friend Rhonda came with me yesterday when I went to the women's cancer resource center to get my wig. I had Rhonda take some pictures. All the wigs are donated, and are free for cancer patients. I tried on at least 6 wigs.
This was my 2nd choice, but I decided against it because the fit was too large for my head and it couldn't be adjusted any smaller.
This was another one I sort of liked; not crazy about the style, but I loved the color and the highlights in it.
I ended up going with this one. I've always wanted to color my hair this shade of blonde, but never had the nerve too. This color is actually quite close to the color my hair was when I was a baby.
This next one isn't a good pic of me, but it shows the side view of the wig.
Also got a couple of scarves.
It was fun trying on the different wigs and scarves. After we were done, I went out to dinner with Rhonda and her mom; my mom had already had dinner out with my dad before meeting us at the center.
So far, I haven't lost any hair yet. As cute as I think the wig is, it won't hurt my feelings at all if I don't need to use it.
And speaking of hair, found this old photo of me when cleaning out my late aunt's storage unit today; I was amazed at how long my hair was! I was 12 years old in this photo, taken in 1975.
Monday, May 03, 2010
(photo from canhascheezburger.com)
Still not a great night of sleep last night, but I at least slept some. I was up at 9am, and got myself ready to go out and do my shopping; groceries, and that trip to Walmart I intended to do last week but couldn't because my doctor had me on the restrictions because of my low white blood count.
I didn't want to go to two stores in one day, but I needed things from both that I couldn't wait any longer to get. I went to Walmart first; got a new skinny barreled curling iron for new hair cut; the one I am using on it now was a little too big around and I am still having trouble to get it to look like it did when I left the salon. (But, I am very thankful that my hair has not started falling out yet!). I needed a new filter for my water pitcher, a brand that only Walmart carries (at least in my town), but they quit carrying that, and the refills, so I bought a brand new Brita pitcher instead. At least with the Brita, I get the filters just about anywhere, and not just Walmart. Picked up a few other odds and ends I needed too. I had planned on buying some more fabric for my chemo hats, but decided to wait another day for that, didn't feel like taking the time to look through the fabric and then finding someone to cut it. I'll do that another day when I don't have to shop for anything else.
I also got a couple of hanging baskets while I was there, fuschias. I love those, and I especially love the fact they attract humming birds. These are the first flowers I have bought for the season.
After that, I went to Meijer for groceries. Got everything I need for the week, plus fresh veggies to try a new recipe for a pasta primevera made with whole wheat spaghetti.
I was pooped when I came home! A little sore, but as far as the pain level goes, it's a "good" day for me.
At 5pm, my friend Rhonda is taking me to my appointment at the cancer resource center where I will be getting my wig. I am bringing my camera so she take some pictures for me; should be fun! And of course I plan to share them with you.
I don't know what style I'll go for yet, I'm open to just about anything, but I am hoping for something with longer hair. I haven't had much luck with being able to grow my hair out much past my chin, so it will be fun to have a longer hair and see what that's like.
I am not concerned with matching the color exactly either. My friends and family know I am going through chemo, and they won't care if the wig looks like the hair I have now or not, and as for the people who would judge me me on that, well, their opinions don't matter to me. It won't be fun when I start losing my hair, but I can make the best of it and fun with my wig and all my hats and scarves.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Too tired to visit my teams today, but the last time I missed a day of blogging, there were people worried about me, so I wanted everyone to know I am ok, just very tired.
Another night of not much sleep. When I finally did get to sleep, a small thunderstorm went through; I probably would have slept through it, but the power was knocked out just long enough to make the surge protector on my computer (which is in my bedroom) start beeping, so I had to get up and reset it. It took me a long time to fall back asleep after that, and it wasn't easy climbing under the desk to get to the thing to flip the switch on it either.
I had plans to go to Walmart this morning, it was to go get a few things like my water pitcher filter refills and some fabric for more chemo hats, which I intended to do last week before my doctor ordered me to stay home because of the low white blood counts. I couldn't go this morning either; I was tired, and also felt very light headed, I didn't think it would be a good idea to drive. I will see how I feel tomorrow morning. I need to go to Mejier for my groceries tomorrow, and I don't know if I will try to go to Walmart too that day or maybe wait until later in the week.
I took a nap this afternoon, and even though I didn't really fall asleep, it made me feel good enough to get my shopping list and coupons ready for tomorrow. Other than that, I just did a little reading and watched tv.
I tried another Spark recipe yesterday, Creamy Italian Chicken made in the crock pot; it was very good! I had it over some noodles. recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
I had one serving last night, and saved another for tonight. The rest I gave to my mom and dad, he came into town to pick up the Sunday papers for my mom and got mine too, so I sent it home with him. My mom is recovering from surgery she had on her foot Thursday, so she can't really do a lot of cooking right now.
I hope I can get some good sleep tonight, and have enough energy to do the things I need and want to do this week, because on the 11th, I have chemo again.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
I didn't realize til I was thinking about it last night, what a month of highs and lows April has been for me.
Having to start chemo again and dealing with insurance issues were the lows. So far, the chemo hasn't been as rough as when I had it 7 years ago, but it's been a little harder than I thought it would be. I've just had two treatments so far, still adjusting to planning my life around the chemo schedule and the side effects again.
Thankfully, I was accepted for the insurance I applied for, so I will be covered when my COBRA expires in few days. But for a while there, I was very anxious about it, and was starting to explore other options in case I would end up with no insurance. It was very stressful having to deal with that and learning that my cancer was progressing at the same time. My biggest fear wasn't what the cancer itself, it was how I was going to pay for the treatments. I still have to send in the paper work to get the preexisting waiting period waived, but that should not be a problem. Right now I have to wait for a proof of coverage certificate from the old insurance to send in with it.
I also started weaning myself off the bland diet I have been on for months, due to gastritis from radiation. I am really enjoying being able to try out new recipes again. There are still days I have to eat bland, because of the chemo, but it's not a steady diet of bland food any more.
My hair has not started to fall out yet, but I know it will soon. I might not lose all of it this time, but I was told to expect to lose at least 25% of it. I had my chin length hair cut short on Tuesday. It's the shortest haircut I have had since my hair grew back from the last round of chemo. I didn't really want to cut it, but I knew it would be easier to manage shorter when it starts to fall out, and it was best to get it done before it started coming out. My haircut turned out to look better than I was expecting it too; I really liked how the stylist did it. I still need some practice though, to get it styled the same way doing it myself. I have been experimenting with different styling tools and products. I have to admit, I miss my longer hair already, but I know after chemo it will grow back, and I can grow it out again.
The chemo made my white blood counts drop down to almost nothing; I had my lab work done on Tuesday, and after I got home that day (I went to lunch with my mom, and we went shopping before getting my haircut), I had a message to call my doctor's office, and learned that because of the low counts, I was to stay home, and away from crowds and sick people. My mom had surgery on her foot Thursday, and I had to go get my blood checked that morning to check the counts again before my doctor would let me spend the day at the hospital with my mom. They went up enough so that I could be with her, but were still low, so I still had to be careful; and take precautions such as lots of hand washing. I was also put on an antibiotic.
Because of the low counts, I also had to cancel a lunch out I had planned with friends. We have rescheduled it for this week. But now all my friends and family know that until I am done with the chemo, I can't plan anything too far ahead, and there may be times I will have to cancel plans at the last minute.
Because of my hip and knee pain, I didn't get any walking done for my fitness this month, but I kept up with the weights and stability ball when I could. I only got 200 fitness minutes in this month, trying work around the chemo side effects and the days that leg pain was worse. But 200 is better than zero. When I first had chemo 7 years ago (it was before I joined Spark) I didn't even try to exercise while on chemo. This week, I didn't do anything until today; I did some seated leg extensions on the ball, and used my weights. I couldn't believe how tired my arms felt just using my light 1 and 2 pound weights, after a week of not using them.
My Timmy is 10 years old day! Here is as a kitten.
And here is a more recent picture.
He is still very playful too! He loves to chase his tail, and his sister Kallie through the house. He is very active every day. I try to feed both of my cats healthfully so that they stay at a healthy weight.
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