Half Time Show

March 26, 2006

Just some little updates, O Best Beloveds, from Cancer Chick Land, nothing earth shaking or even all that interesting, but it will answer the general question “How are you?” with some specifics.

1) Though it was not said in the manner of some Big Pronouncement, Dr. W. has decreed we will be adding two more complete chemo rounds, so suddenly I am no longer two-thirds done, but merely halfway through–well, halfway plus one week, counting this past Thursday’s chemo. This is not at all the dismal news it would have been in chemos past, which is in itself a huge relief. But the trade off for having mild chemo is having excessively time-consuming chemo; most weeks have to be planned around blood tests, and chemo toing and froing, and chemo recovering, and now this last chemo runs right into our Euro-Trip Redux, the one meant, in part, to make up for the one canceled thanks to Dr. W and his stupid blood tests back in Dec. Disappointing, because I was counting on having a few weeks chemo free to sort of get back into some semblance of, if not Normal, then at least Better, and maybe even grow a little fuzz on my scalp, and now I’m probably going to hop a plane right after my last chemo, though more on that below. I’m already trying to sort out how to fit chemo around Jazz Fest; I had thought that it would land right during my chemo off week (actually, I thought it would come at the end of chemo entirely; best laid plans, gang aft agley and all that), but now it seems Round 3 (of Number 6) lands during it. My options consist of having that round at the newly reopened Tulane Medical (assuming they are even doing it, which remains to be confirmed) and risk feeling blechy and not social during the second weekend of Fest or having a triple blast all at once during what would be Week One and getting it over with in one dose. Disadvantages with that include more serious side effects. “Which means what?” I asked Chemo Nurse Lisa. “Severe body aches,” she said. “More fatigue.” Oh, please, I said, I have Vicodin for the former and I’ve been tired since roughly 1998, so I’m not sure what difference the latter will make. So I’m leaning in that direction; just one big blast, get it over with, recover for a weekend or so, back to school and then off to Fest, and several rounds of crawfish, long known for its recuperative powers for me. We’ll see. I will keep you posted. As for the last week of Round Eight, there is talk that since it would be my final round period, they might just let me skip it entirely.

In any event, all the above means is just that everything gets pushed back a bunch. I had hoped to return from Fest with some weeks pre-trip to finish up this semester’s schoolwork, and write the papers left over from last semester (I lost so much time dealing with medical tests and preparing for new chemo and what not that I just let two classes go to incompletes, and while I had hopes, I never found my footing enough during my month off between semesters to write those papers. Or perhaps I was just lazy.), plus Frommer’s work, and now I have to either fit it in, still, around chemo (see above paragraphs whining about scheduling issues) or push some of it into an August previously earmarked for, well, nothing at all. Eh, you’re right, who am I kidding? I would have found something to fill those weeks with anyway.

2) But here it’s worth reinforcing that the only reason I’m fine with any of this is that I’m overall so fine it’s absurd. There is some stuff, of course. Sleep is weird, and I’m still bald, and I don’t have the wind I would like when I’m walking uphill. My nails did start to look strange and feel painful a couple weeks ago, and sure enough, a few days ago they started to ooze in that delightful pre-leprous way I was told would not happen on this chemo. “Is this a usual side effect?” I asked Chemo Nurse Lisa, thinking I had perhaps misunderstood. “Nope, you’re the first,” she said. How trailblazing of me. I don’t think they are going to fall off, but given how much longer I have on the goop and its cumulative effects, I am worried about how loosely defined “attached” might be; I’m already having trouble with little tasks, from peeling oranges to opening envelopes, and I recall having trouble typing when it got really bad last time, which would be seriously inconvenient, what with the trying to stay the course with work and school and all. I’m also fumble-fingered, to go along with my fumbled brain. Meanwhile, my eyelashes and brows exist only in the sketchiest of ways. I had the latter dyed a couple of days ago, because I’m tired of my clumsy (but necessary*) efforts to draw them in every day, and I’m going to embark on doubtless hilariously poor experiments with false eyelashes later this week. I just wanted to try something different, looks-wise, this time around. I’m also seriously tired of being anxious about caloric intake (because my exercise level is naturally down, I have to compensate in that direction) and not looking forward to four more months of obsessing about it.

*When I’m home and not going out where I might frighten children and horses, I don’t bother with makeup, because it’s more of a complicated production these days than my normal mascara-dab concealer-blush-go routine. I similarly let it go one day during our Mardi Gras trip, and because I’m used to it, I had forgotten all about how different I might look without a “face.” We went out later that night, over to Jill’s, to see parades, and I caught a glimpse of myself in her mirror, ie, not in my home and thus in a different context. Eeek! And raced upstairs to borrow some of Yasmin’s makeup, to sketch in eyes, and brows. I came back down and said to Chuck “There, that’s better, isn’t it?” Poor guy struggled between natural courtesy and basic honesty, only to break down and say “Well….yes, actually.” But that was okay, because the truth is we look freaky without features.

3) I guess I will get tumor markers next week, and some time in the next few weeks I have to make time for all the usual tests–PET, CAT, etc–and some tale or another will be told by those. I’m not concerned; I’m just ticking off the days now. What a luxury that is. Don’t think I don’t always consider myself lucky.

4) Fumble-brained and overcommitted reminds me that I owe any number of you emails–Ursula comes to mind, and Marilyn, but I know there are more–and I apologize to anyone who has written to whom I have not written back. Please forgive me. Please consider writing me again. I like emails. I like reading about everything you all are doing.

Half way there, but whole-heartedly yours,