Monday, December 23, 2013

Aging, Chemicals or Information Overload?

Did you ever put a canister of whipped cream in the microwave? Sounds like something a little rascal might do, or a teenaged boy.

Readers, I am not-so-happily tipping into a new decade next month. I'm grateful I lived this long, but I'm worried about my mind. Where is it?

The other day I made myself hot cocoa topped with whipped cream. Before sitting down to enjoy this treat, I put the can of cream in the microwave. I meant to put it in the fridge. Don't worry, I didn't nuke the can which may have well been an environmental disaster. It was funny, but also disturbing.

I've always felt that our minds fill up with so much goo--especially in the age of the Internet, social networks, et cetera--that it has to decide what to focus on and what to ignore, or at least put in another container. Getting older probably has something to do with. Getting bombarded with chemotherapy and radiation doesn't help.

At least when I looked at my freshly made cocoa, I knew what to do with it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creams, Insurance, and Snow

It's been snowing since Monday. Fortunately I haven't had any appointments because I cancelled Light Therapy today. Marty took photos of my scary legs on Sunday and I emailed them to my dermatologist in NYC. Our first house had been previously owned by a dermatologist who'd left some of his textbooks behind. They were nauseatingly graphic shots of bad skin conditions. I could be in a book. At least my legs could.

Dr. L said I should stop Light Therapy for now and he'd call in a prescription for yet another cream. After digging out of a snow ditch, Mariel and I drove to the drug store on the way to get new tires put on the car. I didn't even check what was put in my bag.

When I opened the bag at home I sighed. I already have this cream and it didn't work. The drug store has a no-return policy on prescription meds but I thought I'd call. The pharmacist said in this case she'd accept it and return my co-pay. Hooray! I had no room for it anyway in my useless cream bin.

Since I now had the afternoon free, I thought I'd tackle some medical bills. This kind of thinking and doing usually end in despair. After calling a number and getting no answer, I called another one and was transferred to someone else and to someone else and to some ... when I was connected to the right person. Not only was she funny and spoke perfect English, she solved my problems!  I owe the center nothing, saving me several thousand dollars.

I may not have a conventional job, but I've saved a lot of moulah over the years. Persistence pays!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shot In the Belly

I used to be a copywriter so I hope you're amused by my headlines.

Fortunately, it was only a Vidaza injection in a new locale. My arms have been rejecting the injection lately due to rigidity. Yesterday, it took two tries for it to enter my body (ouch) and the nurse said she'd experienced this only once before. When I walked in today, she asked me if perhaps my belly would be soft enough to admit a needle.

I've had injections in my arms and thighs. I've had iv's in my extremeties. I've had catheters in my chest
and tubes down my throat. For some reason, getting shot in the belly made me nervous, somewhat protective. I thought of it as a particularly tender spot, although I always "man up" when having a procedure.

It didn't hurt a bit, beyond the initial prick. I picture my softly rounded belly covered with needles, like a reverse porcupine. You better watch out.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Cancer Memoir

Eve Ensler, author of the play "The Vagina Monologues," has written a book about her treatment for uterine cancer. Intertwined in the narrative is the time she is spending in the Republic of Congo interviewing women who've been brutally raped and tortured by soldiers in the ongoing war for the country's natural resources.

In the Body of the World spares no details about Ensler's journey through the cancer rituals so many of us know from our own travails with the disease: denial, terror, anger, and pain. She's graphic in her description of the abscess that nearly kills her and the bodily fluids that leak from her body. All I could think of was, gee I didn't have it so bad. I didn't vomit as much and I only needed morphine a few times. Everyone's cancer treatment is different, and my memory has obviously been affected by all the poison that's been pumped through my body. I admit to feeling that her descriptions became tiresome after a while. Also, she postulates she got may have gotten cancer from her father sexually abusing her as a child. The trauma may have infected her soul and finally overwhelmed her immune system. I do believe acute stress can make us very sick. My doctors said there was no known reason why I developed leukemia. It got me, and I've spent 7+ years on a looking over my shoulder for it lurking in the shadows.

Ensler returns to the Congo cancer-free and is instrumental, in raising the funds to build "The City of Joy," a sanctuary for abused women. These women heal and go back to their villages to help women empower to seek a better life, even if they have suffered jaw-dropping violence. Ensler, by the way, is the founder of V-Day, a global organiation to end violence against women.

The book is short, and I recommend it to those who've been through the battle, as a patient, or a caretaker. Ensler captures the raw physical and emotional pain of Cancerland. I found it cathartic even though my experience was very different.   

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Good Days, Good Numbers

The holiday season hasn't tired me out so far. I seemed to have had energy to spare, which I definitely tapped into. I used to wish I had a sleep bank to deposit and withdraw sleep. Now I want an energy bank.

I went to my local oncologist today. My numbers are 8.0 white cells, 12.2 hemoglobin, 222 platelets. This is actually within normal range for a normal person. I lost 5 lbs. and all my vitals were perfect.

I started listening to a book on CD to pass the time while driving. Radio here is terrible. And yes, you can be exposed to too much NPR.