Monday, June 30, 2008

Let's get Physical!

There’s so much to tell you, dear internet! First of all, I love you. I love you in the complicated way that grown-ups love things.

What have I been up to? Well let’s see. Putting out little fires at work. We’re firemen, Kerry, that’s what we are. I know I should say “fire people” but Fireman is just kind of a sexy word. Speaking of sexy firemen that are women, yesterday was the Seattle Gay Pride Parade and you bet the female firemen marching in the parade were about the sexiest lesbians I’ve seen in a while. I mean, besides all the sexy lesbians that I actually know. Which is a lot of sexy lesbians. What do you want to bet happens when people google “sexy lesbian?” They’ll end up right here! This is not what I thought my post was going to be about…

Um. Moving on. Getting physical. Last weekend I went to a yoga class, but I promised Nathan I wouldn’t be one of those people who talked about yoga a lot. I’m going again tomorrow. I think it’s a better way to spend money than the co-pays at the physical therapist who just had me walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes.

On Saturday I went hiking up in Skykomish with Julian and Beth who are training to climb mountains. I was hesitant to bring my out of shape bones with them, but they found a trail that had a nice lake-y, stopping point mid-way so I didn't have to go as far as them. I brought nectarines and the Amber Spyglass to occupy me and spent a nice 3 hours sitting on the shore of a beautiful alpine lake, enjoying the quiet and the nature. It's my job (sort of) to have high standards when it comes to trail maintenance, but still, trail was a total disaster (spring storms) and we had to bushwhack and clamber in the first mile which was pretty exhausting. I only made it to the 2 mile mark which was the lovely Trout Lake when I decided it was Golden Compass time. I won’t pretend like the hike was burlier than it really was because Julian sometimes reads this and I don’t want him to think I’m a liar or an exaggerator (even though I’m guilty of the latter often enough,) but I was pretty tired after 2 miles. Mostly I felt extremely nauseated. The methotrexate gives me this very subtle baseline nausea that’s not so bad, but combined with “strenuous” hiking, it was kind of pushing it harder than I wanted to push. Bah! Damn you, cancer! I am impatient to be through with you and get my body back!

Yesterday I went to Pride with my friends. It was really fun. I will post pictures because I remembered my camera. And then I remembered to take pictures. Glory be.

What else can I tell you about my week, internet? It was all about work! That’s why I can’t say much… When I was in PGH the other week, I noticed my colleagues running around all crazy-like and I remembered how I had been like them last year. And I thought somewhat condescendingly that they really needed to chill out and have some cancer-perspective (cancerective?) about life… Anyway, it was just that I was in denial of how much work there is and I ran around all week like a crazy person and dreamt about work every night that I didn’t take a Xanex and Ambien combo. Today, I feel like I have time to breath for… the next 20 minutes. Then I’m going to see Dr. K. He was gone last week and I kind of missed him. I never go two weeks without seeing my Oncologist-boo, so it will be good to see him. I’m going to ask him about BRAC-1/2 gene today.

Oh and last Monday I got my period again. That’s 3 in a row, every 28 days. This means that I’ve only missed one since starting chemo which I think means my reproductive system is obviously all systems go. Luckily I got tons of condoms at Pride yesterday, so just in case I ever have sex again I will be prepared. Like that will happen!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bonfire of the Vanities

One of my last surviving vanities in the chemotherapy experience is my fingernails. I have nice hands. Nice nails. I don’t bite them. They grow out and I file them and I am very vain about their appearance. I rarely travel without an emery board. As promised, my nails have weakened in the last month and are now breaking. But they’re breaking low down on the nail—like on the bed. This is painful AND unsightly. I’m pissed. I feel pretty done with this whole experience lately. If I had lymphoma I’d be almost done by now! But no… And sitting through the rest of this interim maintenance period is killing me. I just want to get to the hard stuff so it can be over and I can start living my life as normally as possible. Does that sound unreasonable to you?

Lately I’ve been more afraid of cancer. This IV methotrexate isn’t bad, but it’s enough of a reminder that something is wrong that I’m dealing with another layer of acceptance. I have to really focus on my mantra of living every day for itself and not trying to project into the future where I will/won’t be alive. I realize this sounds incredibly melodramatic, but you don’t know—you just don’t. Some people’s bodies just want to die.

I’m also thinking a lot lately about breast cancer. There’s something about it that is pulling me in—maybe that it’s so female-centric, but I feel like this connection with the breast cancer folks. First of all, they have cancer, and secondly there’s something about the movement that feels more body-oriented. I don’t know. My mom’s family has a strong history of breast cancer. My aunt died a year ago of breast cancer (she was treated at Swedish as well so everyone recognizes our last name) and both my grandmother and her sister had it. There’s now a test you can do to find out if you have this gene… if you do, you have like an 87% of developing breast cancer. Do I want to be tested for this gene? Would I have the prophylactic double mastectomy? Could I deal with doing this again? Could I please stop obsessing about this? Maybe it’s time to start taking the Xanex.

What it’s really time for is work. I need to go to work. But like I said, I’m distracted. And all I want to do is go home to my distraction which is the third Golden Compass book. Annie P brought by a huge box of books the other week and there’s a lot good stuff in there. I read a good cancer narrative (about a breast cancer survivor) called The Red Devil and then yesterday when I was feeling a panic about not having enough to do with myself, I found the Amber Spy Glass. I can’t tell you how much of a sense of purpose the book gave. It was a reason to go back to bed and stay there which turned out to be very important because I just read, napped, and drank water. Fuck you, cold. I will kill you with my inactivity!

Alright. That’s enough for today.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Go Kerry Go!

Today my friend Kerry is running an olympic triathlon in Philadelphia for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. As much I try to avoid EVER being corny, this really means a lot to me. Kerry signed up for this before ever finding out that I was sick. She was just one of thousands of folks who decided to raise cash for the LLS... to the tune of $4300! As far as my personal interactions with LLS, they organize and support the young adult blood cancer group I occasionally go to. And they help with bills. And I think that if I needed more help, they probably do a lot more for patients. They also fund research. Yay!

I just stayed with Kerry for 4 days in Pittsburgh and it was a good time. Perhaps not in the "we got soooo wild" sense, but I really like the people I work with. So we had a work-y good time which involves work (which isn't so bad), talking shit about work, and hanging out with other work folks (who are also a good time.) Pittsburgh was much prettier than I expected it to be. I was quite charmed, actually. Perhaps it was my fabulous hosts.

Now I'm back in Seattle and I am coming down with a cold. I won't lie, this makes me really nervous. One of the crazy things about having Leukemia is that I always am aware of my blood counts and how strong my immune system is at any given time. As of Monday I was looking at 4.4 WBC which is fine. Fine enough to start this new chemo drug, Methotrexate. But now? It kills me not to know... I should have hit my nadir about Thurs/Fri so what was it? Too low? Good enough to fight? Will I have to take another freakin week off treatment? Dr. K is on vacation. Every time Dr. K takes any time off work he says, "don't get sick while I'm gone!" When I saw him last Monday I pre-emptively promised "I won't get sick!" as he headed off for 10 days of much deserved vacation. I eat my words. But really? What did I expect? I haven't done nearly enough sleeping in the last two weeks and then I went to an event with over a hundred people in a small space for days on end, continuing not to sleep and also took two plane trips. Even 12WBC-Jessie wouldn't have walked away from this healthy. Bah! It is Sunday. I am going to go do something.

Monday, June 16, 2008


My stupid organic deodorant failed about 20 minutes into today. It was sort of a sign that I was meant to wilt as well I think. The day was long, I had the new deep tired I've been experiencing weighing down on me and I was kind of a dud at all the meetings I had to go to. But the nice thing about this level of being tired is that you also REALLY don't care.

When I got home there were packages.

Package #1: Parafilm! I'm supposed to wrap the tips of my Hick in something when I shower. The Hosp uses parafilm, but apparently the homecare folks and the pharmacy have never heard of it... This is some bad communication. After weeks of using Sararan wrap and haggling with different people at Swedish, I took things into my own hands and dropped $40 on my own personal supply of Parafilm.

So I think it's safe to say we all know which boy I fell in love with the summer I was 17, but I can narrow it down almost to the moment. It was after he tried to heat up some top ramen using a parafilm cover (it melted wax into his meal), but before he actually ate the noodles and parafilm. Gross.

Package #2: eBay purchased jeans. It seemed like too good a deal to be true. And it was. I found my favorite brand of jeans, favorite style, and new size on eBay for $130 off retail price. And it turns out someone hemmed the inseem to 30". All sales final. FUCK. They do fit perfectly, they're just a smidge too short. Someone pointed out that maybe I'll be able to let the hem out a bit, but upon further inspection, I think it's going to be close. Whatever. Andrea wears her jeans that short all the time and it look really CUTE so maybe I just need some Vans or something.

I am so tired right now. Going to Portland was an awesome time (drinking, friends, food, family) but it probably wasn't a good idea in the long run. I'm already deep tired and I have to get up at 5:15 tomorrow morning to fly to Pittsburgh for another work thing. I will be home on Saturday.

Cancer news flash: Today I started IV methotrexate and Dr K threw in a little Zofran and Decadron to ease any possible side effects. I am non plussed. The Z makes me really constipated and the 'roids make me crazy. Whatevs, still feeling OK tonight.

Alright, I must shower and pack and then sleep because QRachel will be here in about 6 hours. I can sleep on the plane right?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Itch

I've been feeling particularly antsy and angsty the last week or so. It's like I constantly need to be entertained and when I'm not, I get really irritated and down on life. I need more to do.

The itch is literal too. It's been months since hardcore chemo and weeks since my last spinal tap, but suddenly I itch. Everywhere. It's a roaming itch. I've heard that this can be a side effect, but now? The fun just doesn't stop, does it? The good news is that my peripheral neuropathy seems to be getting better. Last night I went for a run that felt like a run. I was able to push off my atrophied toes and not feel like I was going to eat it. It was awesome. I ran a little over a mile and then walked because I came around the exposed side of the Seward Park loop and was almost blown across to Mercer Island. Well, the wind was about 45 miles an hour... After a really awesome dinner club I came home to find out that the power was out in North Beacon Hill. Really with this, June?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Just a normal girl

With a hangover. Last night I embraced the "normal," drank tooooo much wine and gin, and sang "Alone" by Heart at the Beacon Pub. It was a hit. I had forgotten what drinking is like and what drinking too much is like and what the Beacon is like on a Friday night: mostly awesome.

Dr. K said my WBCs are still a little low to start the methotrexate so I'm off for another week. This means that I won't be starting back on the Big Guns until August. I didn't expect to have all of July to enjoy good health and no steroids, so now I'm looking for things to do.

I am so happy that Jenny and Richard are here!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Self Portrait: What remains after radiation

Keep bleedin

Coming back to work today was hard after my three-day week day weekend. I was feeling kind of like everything sucked and life was devoid of meaning. Even a huge bowl of veggie pho from Pho Hai Yen couldn't lift my spirits! However, 30 minutes on the trainer has left me feeling optimistic. I think I will live another day!

Speaking of pho and food. Nathan and I went back to Geraldine's for breakfast yesterday. I have now been there three times and two of those meals have rivaled the best sexual experiences of my life. Read that as you will. I'm just saying. If I thought their grilled cheese was amazing, it was only because I had not yet tried the fried egg, bacon, and arugula sandwich. Sweet Moses.

What else can I tell you? I can't stop listening to Keep Bleedin Love and I LOVE it. Tomorrow I go see Dr. K to hear about my blood counts. This week we start oral methotrexate (as opposed to spinal methotrexate). I am assuming that no one from Dr. K's called me this week because there is no contamination of my Hickman line.

Oh, and here is part of g chat transcript from today:

oh yeah, and that story about the hickman, made me think about the time i had a hand in pulling out a woman's central line, it was terrible. i think it hadn't been put in properly, but i was there when it fell out just after she had had explosive diarrhea and we had rushed her to the bathroom, so i felt really bad
you shouldn't feel too guilty about cutting that line, but i bet you are already over it by now
3:44 PM by the way, your one eye looks really pretty in your blog photo
very dark and ponderious
i mean ponderous
is that a word?

See? It could be worse... (notice how I left the compliment on the end--without eyebrows I need lots of compliments...)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Oh, it's coming

This upcoming weekend is the Return of Jenny and Richard (to Seattle). It's also the Return of Kathryn and Ben (to Portland). With so many friends, what is a girl to do? Do it all! This weekend Jenard! Next weekend Benryn! How will my friends respond to these new names? What would Chris Noth do? How many ambien can a girl take and still type semi functionally?

So Moses, I am tired after these last few days with a man who truly is Every thing Nathan. It was all Nathan all the time. And lots of eating. And drinking. And couching. And yes, we did g chat while sitting in the same room. Judge not, lest ye be judged. You don't want this man to judge you:

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Week day weekend

I've done nothing but eat, computer, and watch TV for the last 48 hours. And continue to lose my eye brows.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Where does the time go?

Really? It's been more than a week? Sheesh. Things have been busy and I was out of town for a while for work.

In Cancer News:
Wednesday night I was an idiot and used SCISSORS to cut the tape off my Hickman. Then I cut my Hickman line. BIG FUCK UP. But thankfully you can repair Hickmans and I watched in terror and guilt as one of my precious lumens was amputated and then replaced. I feel like the biggest asshole, by the way, for doing this. It was so stupid and I compromised my health seriously (cutting a sterile line to my heart? nice one, JLO) and made unnecessary drama in an already busy week. I'm in bed so I don't want to get alllll the way up and get my camera and take a picture, but soon dear readers, soon.

So at this work thing I met a lot of new people and despite the tube coming out of my chest I had numerous conversations with folks where they asked me how I got my head to stay so clean shaven. Drugs, man. Drugs.

I think I might have also permanently put off a co worker who I have been trying to connect with for the last two years by being overly irreverent about cancer. Whatever, I'm the one with leukemia here. It means I do what I want. I say what I want. Yo.

Non Cancer News:
I very much enjoyed my time away from Seattle at my work-y type thing. Even though it high lighted all the things I hate about where I work it also high lighted all the things I like about where I work. And I contra danced which is hard when you're as gimpy as I am these days, but I will redeem myself in one year's time.

Now it's Monday, I have lost all ability to articulate, and I'm taking some days off because I just worked crazy a lot AND Nathan3 is visiting for a few days.