Friday, January 30, 2009

Hot Springs at Last!


The girls and I finally made it to the hot springs. I've been wishing to go all winter and haven't been able to until today. It was a perfect day. The sky was blue, the weather was crisp, and there was snow!!! We finally got to make our snowman that I wasn't able to help with last month when it snowed. We made a cute little hula snow girl complete with a hula skirt. Karina fell partially through some ice into a little pond and got super cold, and I had to pull her out and up a small incline. The hot springs felt extra nice once we jumped in. It is so beautiful there- I love to lay on my back in the water and look up at the trees and the blue sky, and I love to rest my head on the edge and look at the river rushing by. The drive back was hard- I was very tired and I've been unable to drink coffee, so it was all I could do to stay awake. The night after my blood draw I was up till 3:30 in the morning, unable to sleep. It made Thursday at work hard, and I'm still not caught up on my sleep. I went in today for another shot and learned that I will need more this weekend, and another blood draw on Monday, and possibly another shot then. All to get ready for my next round of chemo on Wed. This will make a total of 9 days worth of shots- YIKES! Today the nurse had me put ice on the area first, and I didn't feel the shot at all. But still, nine shots is a bit much. My body is struggling a bit this week. I've had horrible heart burn and my stomach hurts. It feels like I swallowed acid. It hurts to swallow food. I am having a hard time not picturing the chemo eating my stomach away. My old stand by of peanut butter and jelly and milk and yogurt are what I've been mostly living off of. Although I have had periods of time when I can eat well, so I can't complain too much.

A friend gave me a pedicure last night, so I have pretty toe nails again! I remember getting one just before my last surgery, and it was nice when I was so miserable laying in bed to look at my toe nails and have at least one part of my body that looked and felt good. I'm glad the time is rushing by, but sometimes it goes by too fast. Part of me wishes for a longer break between chemos. I hate having just a few good days before I've got to do it all again. It can't last forever. It can't last forever. It can't last forever. It WON'T last forever.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009



Well, I'm getting more experience with holding a plan loosely in case it needs to change. Another 10 minute blood draw today turned into a 2 hour stay at the doctor's office. My white cell count is low, and my red cells are a bit low, I have a urinary tract infection- my first ever, and I was dehydrated and still nauseous (that is a hard word to spell! and I never know for sure if it's nauseous or nauseated- any grammar buffs out there know?) So, Nurse Zach "accessed my port", which is nurse-speak for he stuck a one inch needle through my upper chest and into the port-a-cath, which is supposed to be easier than a regular IV. Only today he missed the first time so it just felt like someone was sticking a one inch needle into my chest. There were two sweet elderly men sitting nearby getting chemo, and I yelled out and cussed and then just cried and I startled them and I've NEVER seen these guys startled before, much less even awake looking. I startled some of the staff too and they were all so very sweet. I think I startled myself a bit too. I just can't hold in my emotions and I HATE being stuck with needles. I got the blood draw right before and yet another shot afterwards. I have to have 2 more shots over the next 2 days to boost my white blood cells. Next time they will just do the one super shot. I got some anti-nausea medicine in the IV, so the good news is when I left I had more of an appetite. I had a good dinner tonight of beef stew, salad, and avocado. I treated my self to lunch at Sweet Life and a yummy muffin to cheer myself up a bit. It didn't help much. It was recommended that I have wheat grass to boost my iron. Anyone have any ideas or tips or good sources for getting some wheat grass? I'm supposed to eat beets too, but my stomach just won't tolerate them right now.

Ok, time to go to my gratitude list. I am SO happy that they are checking my blood each week and that they can catch these things that are wrong before they go too far and get too serious. Right now these things just cause me discomfort, but no real harm. The urinary thing kept me up much of the night, so I know I am tired now and things always look bad when I'm tired. I am SO grateful that they were able to give me fluids since I have been too sick to drink much. And the anti-nausea stuff they gave me is supposed to last 5 days. They are trying really hard to keep me healthy enough to keep my chemo schedule on track. That is a plan that I should practice holding loosely. I've got it stuck in my mind that my last treatment is on April Fool's Day, but I know that could get delayed if I get sick. I am visualizing HEALTH through the next few months for myself.

Work was nice. Even though I was exhausted and not feeling too well and sad, I went in this afternoon and got to do my new, temporary job of phone screenings. It is actually kind of relaxing sitting in my office and talking on the phone. I wouldn't want to do it forever, but it is a perfect pace for now. One I did today was kind of hard and long, and even though I felt crappy, I found myself still enjoying the work. It is so nice to feel useful and to feel like I'm doing something important in the world.

I am overwhelmed and deeply touched by the generosity of so many people. I got a really cool head scarf today from a co-worker who made it for me. I LOVE how I look in it- sort of tough and feminine at the same time. I think I look a little like a biker chick and it makes me laugh to see myself because I've always sort of glamorized bikers' lifestyles, but am nowhere near being a biker and this gives me a little alter-ego to have fun with. And, many, many different friends are planning fundraisers for both me and another young woman in my community who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The fundraisers are very creative and cool and I am so honored to be part of such a compassionate, creative, hip community. Moving back to Eugene after getting divorced was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself. I remember praying and checking in with my intuition about that move, and I clearly got the message that this would be the best place to raise my girls and to be a single parent. Tonight I don't feel quite so single- I feel wrapped up by a big village.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ultimate Self Care...and Back to Work


It was another Monday and back to work for me today. Luckily I was feeling pretty good all day, just not too much of an appetite. I couldn't face the wig after so many days of wearing the buff, so I just wore the buff today. Plus, I had a bunch of appointments scheduled and felt like the wig would get in the way. I was a little nervous going into work, but I felt more like myself with it on. Maybe. We'll see what I wear tomorrow. I went into one preschool today and the kids didn't say one word about it. Work was nice. It feels SO GOOD to do something normal like go to work. I sure never truly appreciated my ability to work before all this.

I ran into a woman I kind of know and she asked me what my prognosis was. I had heard that people sometimes ask that. What a weird question. It's like asking anyone "when are you going to die"? I don't know what my prognosis is, just like none of us knows what life holds in store. All I know is that Dr. T told me that the cancer doesn't "come back". It's either already spread from the original tumor, or it hasn't. It can't spread any more, because the tumor has been removed. If it has spread, the chemo will wipe it out, or it won't. I won't know ever really. If it comes back, I guess my prognosis was bad. If it doesn't, then I had a good prognosis. I have a very strong gut feeling that it didn't spread and that I'll live to be 100 or so. But, in the mean time I'm enjoying and appreciating every little bit of being alive. One of Karina's friends, a girl her age, died this past week. The girls and I have been talking about death and Karina was really surprised that a kid her age could die. I think it has left her feeling that life is fragile, whether someone has cancer or is just a regular kid going about her regular life. She's been exceptionally affectionate with me this past week. I think the three of us are all learning how much we mean to each other and how much we cherish each other.

I started the day with seeing the PT for lymph massage. I ended the day with a visit to the chiropractor and a hot stone massage. The hot stone lady also did some lymph massage also. I can't believe how much better my arm has gotten- the chiropractor has really helped to loosen up my stiff shoulder, and the massage was just heavenly. The lymph massage is supposed to help keep my arm swelling down, and also help to move the chemo through my body. Dr. T's assistant told me that studies have shown that regular massage shortly after chemo helps to lessen the side effects. So, I'm planning to schedule a massage after each treatment. I hardly ever fall asleep on my own any more, but I almost did on the massage table today. There is something really grounding about the hot stones- hard to explain, but somehow I just felt my body sinking into the earth and feeling deeply rooted and strong.

I felt so good this morning that I made pancakes for breakfast. We have eaten for so long out of the freezer and cardboard boxes that it was a NICE treat to have pancakes. Kaycee overheard me on the phone a while back saying that the girls love all the meals people have been bringing us because my cooking isn't so great. She told me after that that she misses my cooking and that she actually thinks I'm a good cook. I guess they are learning to appreciate the little things too! I have written about how happy they have been, and I realized today that I can take some of the credit for that. I have been pretty peaceful and happy lately too, and the girls always seem to reflect my moods and emotional state. When I'm hysterical and crying all the time, that's when they get scared and unhappy. It's a nice reminder that when I take care of myself, I am actually taking care of them too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Up and Down and Up and Down and....


And so it goes. I woke up not quite sure if I was feeling ok enough for a game of soccer. But, I really wanted to go, so I ate some breakfast, drove to D's house where she gave me the last of 4 shots for the week, then on to my soccer game. I felt marginally ok going in, but the smells really got to me. The bathroom smelled of pine cleaner and the rest of the place smelled like hot, dirty sneakers. Gross, gross, gross. Once I was on the field playing, though, I didn't notice anything but how good it felt to be out there. I got two shots at the goal! Ah, it felt so good. I could play for about 5 minutes, then I subbed out. During the second half I started to get motion sickness. I thought about leaving, but really didn't want to. I stayed for the whole game and felt that after soccer rush for most of the day.

I had the opportunity, with both kids hanging out with friends, to meet F for lunch at the Keystone Cafe. It was SO NICE to get out of the house and I was starving by the time I got there. I've not been wearing the wig since Wed, so I decided to keep it off and I went out in the buff (my green head scarf looking thing). I put on some pretty earrings and some make-up and it wasn't so bad. The food tasted so good, but I got full pretty fast. I went to the grocery store afterwards and I was feeling so good that I just decided to meet people's stares with a smile. Everyone smiled back! I think, really, that people are just curious. It's not such a big deal after all.

I took Karina to her basketball game tonight and again it was hard being in a gym. The noise really got to me, and of course those lovely smells again. But, there was no way I was going to miss it. She was so beautiful to watch. At home, I got the girls dinner and as I was getting it together, I started to feel really sick. I got it all together for them, but had to go lay down on the couch while they ate. I ended up taking the anti-nausea medicine, figuring it was late enough at night and I wasn't doing any more driving, so it didn't matter if I got groggy. I had to throw my dinner out, but I did have a bit of soup and that is settling all right for now.

My big concern right now is my cough. Every time I try to talk, I end up coughing. I googled "chemo cough" to see what is going on. Big mistake. I know better than to google, but sometimes I forget. It said all sorts of horrible things relating to chemo and coughing. The doc wasn't too concerned last time, so I guess I'll just mention it again on Wed. Boy, those lists of side effects are so scary- it's a wonder anyone ever decides to get chemo! The most gruesome one I've read yet is having one's finger nails fall off- I just picture interrogators ripping prisoners' finger nails off. There goes my over active imagination again. God, please let me keep my finger nails!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thank You God!


I prayed and prayed this time that the chemo could be a little gentler on me, and I have to thank God, because my prayers were answered. This time was WAY better than last time. Which doesn't mean it was easy, but I'll take this time over last time any time!

My biggest complaint was the nausea. My second biggest complain was the boredom. Here's what I did different this time:

First, I really did pray, on my knees in my bathroom with a candle. Second, I made NO plans to do anything outside the house, other than go in for my shot and my acupuncture on Thursday. Other than that, I didn't leave the house for two days. I stayed as still as I could- either on the couch or in bed. I had extra acupuncture (the day before and the day after) and I had extra reiki (the day of, just after the chemo). I had two of my favorite people with me during the chemo- B at the beginning and F at the end. I got a list of foods to eat to help support my liver and to help decrease the body ache feeling. The main ones I ate were beets and salmon. I tried to eat really well during the preceding week. I took something called Astragalus, which is an herb (I think- it's in a liquid solution) that is supposed to lessen the side effects of chemo, I had D spend three nights with me- I am so lucky that she was able to- so I didn't have to try to fix my own food, I had the kids spend time with friends so I didn't need to take care of them (thank you thank you kind friends who cared for the girls!), I took ginger pills, I slept a lot, and I took the anti-nausea medication exactly as prescribed (which means I took it before I started feeling really bad).

I'm trying to record all this so I can remember to do it next time. I did have a lot of nausea in spite of all this, but I made it through ok. I was able to eat at least three times a day, just very small amounts. I ended up liking yogurt and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the best. Today I was able to eat real food again, just small amounts. It was hard staying so still for so long, and I would get to feeling better, so I would get up and try a little something, like unloading the dishwasher, and I would get that horrible car sickness feeling right away, so back to bed I'd go. Each day when I started to get really frustrated and bored, a friend just happened to call and come for a visit, so it was bearable. It was also so nice having D spend the night- it took away the fear that I'd be all alone in the house and be too sick to take care of myself, and she was able to give me my shot each morning without me having to drive across town to the doctor's office. I've got one more shot to go tomorrow, then I'm done with needles until my blood draw on Wednesday.

Today I was very tired but I was still able to get to an Alanon meeting. I had a long afternoon nap (Karina was at the Duck game with a friend- thank you friend! and Kaycee colored and watched a movie). After my nap I took Kaycee to her first ever basketball game (where she played). It was hard being in the gym because I've found that smells really make me feel bad. It doesn't seem to matter if it's a really bad smell or just a regular smell, just any smell turns my stomach. Being in the gym was hard because there were a lot of smells. But, there was no way I was going to miss her first game. She was so beautiful to watch! My graceful fairy is showing her strong athletic side more and more. After the game we went to the Y for a swim and the girls were so happy. I've really noticed lately how happy they are. At the Y I was able to sweat a bunch in the wet sauna and even some in the dry sauna. The locker room was hard, though, more smells to turn my stomach. I tried keeping a scarf on my head in the wet sauna, then couldn't bear it so I went completely bald for the first time in the locker room. I got a LOT of stares- open and long ones from little kids, and sneaky- I'm checking you out but I know it's rude so I'm going to pretend I'm not- ones from adults. The best I could do today was to just try not to make eye contact with anyone and to pretend I didn't notice. It is getting a little bit easier. I've gone outside at home a few times and just forgotten to cover my head, so I'm sure the neighbors have seen. I'm caring less and less as time goes on.

I got the sweetest gifts today. In the Alanon meeting, many people knit and crochet the most beautiful things. I watched a woman crocheting a really cool hat during the meeting, and at the end, she gave it to me! It's furry and when I wear it, it feels a little bit like I have bangs. It's very thick and warm and made of festive colors. Then, before I could leave, someone else gave me an entire meal that he had made for the girls and I, and in the parking lot he noticed the big scrape on my car. The scrape from when I was trying to parallel park way back when before my surgery and I was crying all the time and yelling at the kids and not paying attention. He just happened to have something in his car that he rubbed on the scrape and poof, it's gone! I realized that I'm not that hysterical, terrified person that I was just a few months ago in the middle of the surgeries. I'm still scared much of the time, but that initial, awful, the news is so fresh, feeling has passed. Now I'm smack in the middle of it and the end will be in sight soon!

I really, really, really want to be feeling well enough to play in my soccer game tomorrow. If only the indoor place didn't stink so bad!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chemo Cave


A friend mentioned how people go into a "chemo cave" in the days after getting chemo, and I get that now. It's where I'm at right now. I think I learned something from last time that is making this recovering time easier. I learned that it's important to not move very much and to not do very much. Whenever I lie still, I feel ok. When I move about the house too much, I get that motion sickness feeling. I am SO happy to say that the uncomfortable body feeling is not happening right now. Hopefully it won't happen at all this time- that's the worst feeling I've ever experienced.

The actual day of chemo started out hard. I was so stressed and so didn't want to go that I cried the whole way there. B (my sponsor) came with me and just encouraged me to have my feelings. I went into the office with red, puffy eyes. All the chairs but one were full and I didn't really like the idea of being there with so many other people. They ended up being over-full, so they offered me the meditation room that day for the chemo. What a huge blessing that turned out to be. I got my own chemo suite.

Not feeling too good all of a sudden, so more later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gratitude...and Fear


Looking back on the weekend, even though I had a bad spell on Saturday, I am amazed at how good I felt over all and at all the active things I was able to do. Soccer, a hike, roller blading, swimming, and a bike ride. And, I had a chance to really connect with the girls and have some nice bonding time with them together and separately. I miss them so much when I'm feeling miserable and laying in bed while they watch a movie. The weather was so beautiful and I noticed that some of my bulbs are starting to peak up a bit already. I'm so excited for spring because spring means I'm closer to being done! My last chemo is tentatively scheduled for April Fool's Day. Wonder what the cosmic significance of that is?

I had more acupuncture and Reiki today and was feeling so good in my body today. I spent the day in appreciation of how good I felt just to be able to sit in a chair without discomfort, and to walk from my car into a building, and to EAT! Food tasted good today and I've had an appetite. I know I've lost weight, so I've been trying to put it back on again before the nurse finds out tomorrow and scolds me again. I suppose it's kind of nice being told to eat frequently and to eat high calorie foods. I may never have this opportunity again!

I saw more people today that I hadn't seen in awhile and saw them do the double take when they realized it was me underneath the hair. Saw a few people also that didn't recognize me at all, but today I was comfortable telling them who I was and just saying that I had changed my hair.

I had the most amazing experience last night. I got to meet a woman a few years younger than me who is a year past her breast cancer treatment. She wrote a book about how she gave up on the wigs and head coverings and decided to go bald. What struck me most about her was how vibrant and full of life and confident she is now. Her chemo experiences were bad, like mine, and there she was standing in front of me happy and bubbly and beautiful. It gave me hope that that could be me before too long. She is also going to be my "chemo buddy" a few times and drive me to and from chemo and sit with me while I get it.

D came over last night and we had some more fun with my wigs. I gave her Farrah and the red bob and she wore the red one to work today. She is so gutsy! One of the mom's at school today had shaved/cut her hair quite short and she looked fabulous. I think I could go out on the town bald if I went with these gutsy women!

So, the fear part. Another round of chemo tomorrow and while I've got some different plans this time for getting through Thur and Fri, I just don't know if it will be like last time or not. It could be better, it could be worse, and longer, or it could be the same. Each time is like labor- I don't know if it will be long or short, intense or not. I keep hearing that chemo is cumulative and that it gets a little harder each time as the body gets more worn down and weaker. But, I also am told that acupuncture is cumulative and that it makes the body stronger each time. I just HATE that I am feeling so good right now and I know that chemo is going to take that away from me. It's hard, but I need to find my way back to that place of being grateful for the chemotherapy. If I really think hard about it, if it's what is going to save my life, the days of misery are more than worth it. I don't think much about how this cancer could potentially kill me, but when I do, I am SUPER grateful for the chemo and the surgeries and my doctor and the crappy shots and all the blood draws and the millions of tests and the nurses.

I didn't get to enjoy election day at all because it was the day after my diagnosis. And, I don't watch the news and haven't been reading the paper much, so today was especially special for me. I got to watch President Obama's speech today, and I got to go to a cool inauguration party tonight, and it just really sunk in for me tonight that we have a new president. I have been so much inside myself that I haven't been thinking too much about world events. Today there were a few shots of soldiers in Iraq watching the inauguration, and something just filled me with joy. I had the thought that America has been so cowboy tough for so long that maybe now is America's chance to soften a little. Just for today, I don't feel so fearful about my country's place in the world, and I don't feel so fearful about my place in the world.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Better Today


A much better day today. I got to hike up to the swing at Mt. Pisgah with the girls and D. This is the longest I've walked since before all the surgeries. It is also the first time the girls didn't need to be drug along- they walked ahead, and fast, and I did my best to keep up with them. I could really feel how out of shape my muscles were. But, it was such a beautiful, crisp, sunny day that it didn't get to me too much. Mostly I was just so thankful to be out and walking and not feeling sick. I came home and rested for a bit, had a bath, then went to my soccer game. I was so tired, but it was really important to me that I go. I wore the buff to the game- there's no way I could play in that wig. I was nervous about walking in and nervous about comments and questions. But it turned out to be just fine. Just a few comments, then the focus was on the game. We played a team that was a lot better than us, and they were a bit aggressive, so I just took it easy. Again, I was so thankful to be there playing that I didn't care too much about how the game was going. I have lost my assertivenes as I'm so afraid someone will knock into me and hurt me. Mostly I'm worried about the port- it hurts when I stretch that arm too much or move in a certain way. My other arm, I'm happy to say, is WAY better! I didn't think about it at all during the game except once when I moved it at an awkward angle. I tried to go to an alanon meeting after the game, but I was falling asleep during it, so I just headed home and had a second bath and am resting now. I am SO tired. I'm hoping I can get another good night's sleep like last night.

I'm feeling better today about the next chemo. I've got a plan in place for myself and for the girls, and I think it will be so much better knowing that we are all being taken care of. Part of my stress last time is that I thought that I could get some errands done the day after chemo, so I was driving around too much and feeling really rotten. What was I thinking?! This time, I'm not making any plans to do anything other than watch movies at home and go to acupuncture. Oh, and I have to go back to the office and get the shot the next day. I think I just need to take the pressure off of myself to try to do too much.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My "Doll"


Whew, I am finally calmed down and feeling better. Wonder if it was the adivan? Or just that I finally took some time to cry and to call a friend and to talk. I don't know, but the worst is past and I'm exhausted and hoping to try to sleep.

Had to write about funny Kaycee. Last week I came home from my mind/body class and walked into my bathroom and saw a head sitting on my bathroom counter. It gave me quite a start. It was my plain white wig head, but Kaycee had gotten ahold of it and colored it in so that the whole head is now sort of skin colored, and she has eyes. The eyes are scary and freaky- the POP out of the head. Tonight I was trying to have my emotions when she called out to me, "Mama, I combed your doll's hair and fixed her mouth!" I went into the bathroom and she used my lipstick to color the mouth, and she had wet the wig down and combed it. She was quite proud of herself and I was wondering if there is not anything off limits to her. I was really annoyed, but then I could see that it was her way of trying to cheer me up. The hair is now all flat with very straight bangs. I guess it was too fluffy anyway. Really it's kind of funny- it does look like a doll. I used to have one of those Barbie heads when I was a kid that you could put make up on and do up the hair. That's what Kaycee has created for me.

Time to sleep.

Random Stuff

Saturday, Jan something 09

I'm sitting here in bed looking at all the pictures on my walls. When I was at my first chemo appointment, the girls worked almost 3 hours on making pictures and putting them up all over my room. Their goal is to cover every inch of my walls, and they came close! They are bright, cheerful, I love you pictures. People often ask me how the girls are doing with all this. I am so surprised, but they are doing quite well. I believe it is all the love and support we are all getting- I think they are bathed in love so they don't have much room to feel bad. They have both matured quite a bit, and become more flexible and are even getting along better with each other (although not at the moment- they are fighting over chores). It has been a huge relief to me to see them doing so well.

As for me, yesterday was a good day. It turns out I wasn't sick, just having side effects of the chemo. Apparently the chemo can kill healthy cells in my mouth and throat, and allow unhealthy bacteria to grow. The acedophalus worked in a few hours, so I'll stick with that. My white blood cells were within normal range, but still low enough that I needed yet another shot. I may have written this already. My mind gets jumbled more and more these days.

Today has not been so great. I don't know what's going on with me today. I did not sleep much last night, so I woke up tired. I started off doing well, but I wasn't very hungry. As the day progressed, I got more and more worn down feeling and my stomach started to hurt so I haven't been able to eat much. Today was the first day I wore the buff out in public (other than two other very brief times). I was so self-conscious and it just got harder as the day went on. I am very much aware that other people don't really think too much about it- I didn't get any comments or looks from strangers. It was just in my head all day long that I must look like I have cancer and like I'm sick. I went to the pool and didn't really realize until I was there how hard it would be for me getting dressed and undressed in the locker room. I decided to keep the buff on the entire time, even in the pool. I guess I need to get a swimming cap. I saw a woman I went to college with years ago and knew, but not well. There was no recognition on her face when she looked at me, and I didn't bother to say hi. I was afraid of having to explain my head to her. It was a relief and a sadness to feel invisible. My emotions have been right on the surface all day, and I've been crying on and off all day. I think a combination of being tired, having an upset stomach, and still getting used to being bald is all contributing. Plus I'm having a lot of anxiety about chemo next week. I'm frustrated with myself, because I just wanted to live in the present today and enjoy a beautiful, sunny Saturday. I did go through the motions. Karina and I went on a bike ride and it was nice and fun and reminded me of summer. I was quite tired, though, after just a few miles. I know it's to be expected. I'm just still having a hard time letting go and taking it easy.

I am happy to say that 2 1/2 months have passed since this all started. Yeah!! I've gotten through 2 1/2 months! No wonder I'm tired, though. That's a long time to have almost constant anxiety and stress.

I ended up taking 1/4 of an ativan to help with the nausea and with my anxiety. I really HATE taking medication, and part of my letting go will be to learn to accept that it's ok for me to take medication while I have cancer. It's a normal thing to do, and that's what the medication is intended for. And, I won't have to do this forever. I won't have to do this forever. I won't have to do this forever.

I had to laugh the other day. I was talking to an older relative on the phone, and one of her pieces of advice for me was for me to "suck it up". She actually used those words. There is this pressure to be tough and to tough this out. I am conflicted. I know this is no place for wimps and that I do need to be strong. But, I want to be able to keep having and expressing my emotions. I am a strong person, and this is very HARD and there are many times when I just want to be taken care of and babied and nurtured. I'm learning to ask for this and to receive it and I think I'm tough enough already and perhaps I need to SOFTEN up enough to continue accepting nurturing and help from people.

Ok, here's my call for help. I've been enjoying watching romantic comedies when I get really down and I've gone through all the ones I have. If anyone has any good movies to loan me (must be lighthearted, sweet, funny, romantic), I'd sure appreciate it!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Up and Down and Sick?


Another emotional up and down day. Last night was so nice- some long time friends, from my past life as an officer's wife in Germany, came for a visit and spent the night. It was so nice to visit with them and to share some funny memories. This morning I felt great and went into work and went into two different preschools. It felt SO good to be back to work. I really love what I do. It's a little hard, though, because I'm trying to avoid getting sick, so I'm not interacting with the kids much. Mostly I'm staying back and observing and writing notes. I like it so much better when I can get in the middle of kids' playing and try out different strategies. I know observing is valuable too, though. And actually, by the second preschool I was pretty tired and drained and happy to be able to just sit. I also had lunch in a cute little internet cafe in one of the little towns where I work and did some work on my laptop. I remembered going in for a CT scan at that place next to Starbucks and being so jealous of all the professional looking people stopping in for coffee, or working on their laptops while eating breakfast. Today in that cafe I felt like I was one of those professional people again. It was a good feeling and one that I savored.

On the drive back to the office, I started feeling really tired and drained. I have been having a bit of soreness in my mouth (a side effect of chemo) and I noticed it getting worse and my throat starting to hurt. Back at the office, it just got worse. On the drive home, I called my acupuncturist, who is also an herbalist, and asked for some advice. She said that the chemo is probably wiping out all the good bacteria in my mouth and she recommended putting powdered acidophalus on the sores. I stopped off and got some, along with a few other things, and am hoping that I'll be ok. At home I took it easy and as the evening has progressed, my throat is more and more sore and swollen feeling. My good feeling from earlier was gone and I took a long, hot bath and just relaxed. A friend came and picked Kaycee up for basket ball practice, so I had some time tonight to just relax. I hope I don't get sick- it's way too early in the game for that. I go in tomorrow for more blood work and I'll see what the nurses say.

I went out in public tonight in just a hat- a very nice, soft one. It is so much easier. I'm still wearing the wig tomorrow- it didn't hurt so much today.

Still feeling fearful about the next chemo. But, the girls are set for a sleep over so I am feeling relieved that I'll just have to worry about taking care of myself.

Time to get some sleep.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Blood Race


I went in today for what should have been a 10 minute blood draw. It turned into almost two hours. My white cells were low. Not terribly low, but low enough that I needed to get another damn shot today. I was in a pretty good mood, thinking I'd pop in for a quick visit on my off chemo week, then dash off to work as if all was normal. I just hit a wall today and started crying right before the shot. It was weird, one minute I was laughing and joking, the next I was crying right in front of all the staff and a few patients there. I have just had enough, and I'm frustrated because I'm at the beginning still. Nurse Rugby did the shot and he was very kind and gentle and it didn't really hurt much at all. I missed most of the morning at work and just felt so sad and tired today. I've got to go back in on Friday for another blood draw and possibly another shot. It's a race- the chemo wipes out the blood cells, and the shot races in to build them up again. No wonder my body is so tired. It's working to kill cancer, working to fight off chemo, working to re-build healthy cells. I'm having this close together, aggressive treatment because I'm young and healthy and Dr. T says my body can handle it. Now if I could just get my emotions to catch up! I ended up working some today, but hit another wall. I went home and rested on the couch for about half an hour and felt better. I saw my counselor today too and that always helps. She said I just really need to love myself and nurture myself right now. I have a lot of fear about the next round of chemo next week. I guess I've got some time to work through it.

So, the head shaving. My hair started coming out on Sunday, all over the cottage. I wore the wig Sunday afternoon, mostly in an attempt to contain all my loose hair so I could stop finding it all over the house. Monday morning it was all over my pillow. F and D both came over that night to help me shave it. F used clippers and they were loud and hot on my skin. I needed to stop right after we got started and get myself grounded and centered. I use my bathroom as my private prayer/meditation center, so I went in there and practiced one of the breathing techniques I learned in my mind/body class and prayed for God to hold me through the head shaving. I went back out and it was kind of fun and funny and we were rocking out to Billy Idol. I plugged up my ears and closed my eyes and pretty soon it was over. I was surprised at how much hair I still had left, and at how dark it was all over the floor. Both F and D said that my head was pretty and that it wasn't so bad. I looked in the mirror and I was very surprised. I could see my entire face clearly for the first time in my life. I had the feeling of "Oh, there I am". Then I looked at my head. I had no idea what my bare head would look like, and I was pleasantly surprised. It is just a smallish, round head with normal ears attached. The only bald women I've seen recently are elderly women in the doctor's office, and many of them are quite sick. I was afraid that I would look old, frail, and sick with a bald head. But, I think I still look like me. The big surprise was that when I rub my head, it is excruciatingly painful when I rub my hair against the grain. It feels like tiny cactus needles stabbing into my skull. Wearing the wig is painful. Even wearing a soft hat and laying against my pillow is painful whenever I move. I took a shower and washed it this morning, and it wasn't as bad. I think once the remaining hair (it's probably 1/16 of an inch long) comes out, it won't hurt so much.

Well, after my head was shaved, D grabbed the clippers and said she wanted a strip shaved off of her hair in my honor. I was horrified and tried to stop her, but was unable to. She ended up not stopping with the one strip, and instead shaved her entire head. I want to go on OFFICIAL record that I did not ask her to or put her up to it. She did it just to keep me company. We then tried on some hats, and I think she looks young and beautiful with her whole face showing.

After we were done, F had to leave and D and I stayed up way too late watching "Mama Mia". I love how beautiful the older women are in the movie- they are so confident and full of life. It was actually a fun evening. We mixed up our hair and put a little into two baggies and agreed to meet when we're in our 80's and throw the hair into the ocean and talk about how long ago this time right now is. I am reminded that this will be behind me one day, and it will lose it's intense power over me.

I wore the wig again today and I really, really don't like how it feels. I feel like I'm in disguise in it. It looks great, and I like how I look in it, but I don't want to be in disguise. Finally, after picking the girls up, I could stand it no longer so I took it off when I was stopped at a red light and I put on the buff. I've been wearing that all evening and it just feels so much better. In spite of it all, I'll be wearing the wig again tomorrow. I'm just not ready to go without it yet. Not sure what is going on there, but I am giving myself time and permission to move at my own pace with all of this.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dancing With Myself


Way too tired to write all I have to say. Back to work this week and it's nice to feel normal again, but exhausting. Rocked out to Billy Idol, "Dancing With Myself" last night while F shaved my head. Sweet, impulsive D shaved her head too. More on that later. After the tears on Sunday, I ended up laughing so much last night that I had to cross my legs several times. Never imagined it would be so funny. Got some great pictures. May get brave enough to post them sometime. Wore the wig two days in a row. Drove me crazy with discomfort today. Wore the buff (a cool head scarf thing like what they wear on Survivor) this evening and liked it. F says I have a pretty bald head. Gotta love cool boyfriends like that!

Blood draw tomorrow. Here's to HIGH ENOUGH white blood cells so NO shots this week! They ended up changing the plan from one the day after chemo to one each day for three days after chemo. YIKES!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Quotes

Here are the rest of the quotes from the art work in this cottage:

"We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves"

"She left pieces of her life behind her everywhere she went. 'It's easier to feel the sunlight without them', she said."

"She asked me when the season of joy was supposed to end and I said I didn't really think there was an exact date, so we left the tree up till June that year."

"Go into the garden and listen to the silences between the sounds. This is the real music of nature."

"Leaves break free from their trees like the turning of pages in all the world's libraries."

"These are little packets of light and you need to plant them early in the year and remember to mark where they were because lots of times they look like weeds in the beginning and it's not until later that you see how really beautiful they are."

"She seemed to move everywhere. Dancing and music followed her like leaves on the wind."

And the corrected quote from the last post: "Each moment outshines the one before. Whatever happens, this is the present. Make your home here."

Beautiful Morning


It is a beautiful morning. I'm still at the country cottage, surrounded by trees and tranquility. I learned that the money I used to pay for this place (which was given to me by a good friend as a gift), went to help a man with bladder cancer. The owner went to a benefit auction for him and spent the money on items in support of him. It feels good to know that the universe has a way of circulating help around.

I spent about 2 1/2 hours yesterday with my hair stylist. She is a true artist and she was kind enough to come to the cottage to work with me and the wigs. I brought three of them- Farah Faucet, Saucy Red, and French Monique. These are my silly names for them. We decided Farah was a lost cause and F played around with it, looking like a 70's rock star. Saucy Red was very cute, and she cut it just a bit. It's synthetic and very shiny and probably looks a bit fake and smells a bit like plastic. French Monique is real hair and was given to me by my doctor's office, where it had been donated in brand new condition. It was shoulder length, very dark hair. I liked it the best because it is real hair and it feels so soft and nice and so different from the synthetic My hair stylist was able to put in some high lights that lightened it up, and she cut it more to my style and it looks pretty good on. It is way darker than my old blond hair, but probably closer to my original color. I really like it. I wore it around some yesterday to get used to it. F said I looked like a French assassin in it, so I put on some dark lipstick to play up the part, but drew the line at the long cigarette. In the mean time, my hair has been coming out and its very devastating. I'm finding it in the bathtub, on the computer, more and more all over the place. When I pull on it, sometimes 3-4 strands at a time come out, and sometimes nothing. I think it's happening slowly. I still am holding out hope that maybe it will just thin. But, I'm going to try the wig out in public a little bit today just to see how it feels. F will be with me so I won't have to do it alone.

I'm feeling like I'm on the bridge again. The old Krista is on one side, and I'm just starting off across the bridge. No one can walk across with me, but I've got lot's of people all around the bridge, cheering me on. The more I cross the bridge, the more naked, bald, and vulnerable I become. It is so scary and lonely there. I can be there alone, or I can invite God. Sometimes I remember and invite God, and its not so scary then. Sometimes my will gets in the way and I stand alone. The more I cross it, the more naked I become. I have no idea what's on the other side. I know that there will be a new me waiting there, but I don't really know who she will be. I'm sad to lose the old me. Well, I know I'm not losing all of her, but still, it's a scary place to be. I don't really want to take anyone on the bridge with me, because I don't want anyone else to have to go through this. But sometimes I find myself reaching out to the people surrounding me, wishing they could do this for me. Sometimes I envision people underneath the bridge, holding it up for me as I cross.

I made it through the two rough post-chemo days and am feeling quite well, but shaken. It was rough and I don't want to go through it six more times. It really helps knowing that I come out the other side pretty quickly, but it totally sucks when I'm in it and even though I've got a week and a half break, the anticipation of it coming again is awful. Now would be the time to live in the present moment. There is a painting on the wall here in the cottage that says. "Each moment outshines the one before. This is the present moment, make your home here." This will be my focus for the next week and a half- fully embrace and enjoy each moment in each day and fully appreciate and give thanks for each bite of food that tastes good, each time I can go for a walk, each moment that I'm feeling good. I'll figure out a way to get through the next rough patch. And I'll be sure to invite God along.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Moon Miracle


I think I'm past the ick. I hope I hope. I'm not out of bed yet, but I woke up a few hours ago and felt compelled to look out my window. The full moon was shining through some clouds, right into my window. It was like a sunset in reverse. Amazingly lovely. It felt like God was peeking in my window while I slept, smoothing the worry and discomfort away with a giant, loving hand. I got up and had a yogurt, and it tasted good. No big discomforts as of right now.

I had another session of acupuncture yesterday, and I understand it takes till the next day to feel the effects. I'm having Reiki done this morning, and I'm going to be staying at a cute little farm cottage just outside of town. I meant to stay last night, but didn't have the energy to get there. I feel bad about missing out on a night, but I think it was important that I stay here last night till I was feeling better. D stayed the night and kept me company and fed me a protein shake. F stopped by and just held me and talked to me for awhile.

I had a good cry last night. For my hair, for me, for this whole mess. I am scared about taking care of the girls on my chemo weeks. I think I learned this week that it would be better for them to have a sleep over on day two and maybe three after the chemo. They were gone last night and it was so much easier just having myself to focus on. I'll have to arrange it next time. It means asking for more help, but its what I need. I think I also need someone here to keep me company and to help make sure I eat something. Its hard and sad to be alone when I'm feeling so bad. Last night I kept trying to eat, but making my own food was grossing me out. I did get a few bites, but it was much easier with D here to help and to sit with me while I drank the shake.

I'll get the last shot this morning. I'm hoping there won't be any bad affects. Its a beautiful, amazing morning right now. I'd like to get up and participate in it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

More Ick

Hello world, this is D typing for Krista. I need to write about the bad days so I can appreciate the good days when they come. I need to remember that the bad times come and go; I am in the middle of a bad time right now. I am trying to remember that they don't last forever. Just waiting for the Ativan to kick in. The bad, no appetite - but I am hungry, feels like I have a rock in my stomach. Tired but to anxious to sleep. Can't get comfortable. Achy body, swollen arm, scared about my hair, to many yucky wigs. Just feeling stuck. Grateful for D & F who keep me company and keep my spirits up and appreciate the phone messages that I have not had the energy to return. I am getting them and they mean a lot.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Hard Night


Nothing is working tonight for the nausea and discomfort. Arghh I feel gross gross gross. Can't wait till the girls are in bed so I can be too. I'm trying drug number three tonight. Hopefully it will help. I makes me sleep, so I've got to wait till the girls are asleep. St. D came over to help and may sleep over. Thank God for good friends. She also came at midnight one night with cranberry juice when I needed it. So much help. I brought my wig in to the original shop, and the lady agreed that it doesn't look so good. She's getting me a new one, for free. It will be shorter and sassier, according to her. That will be good. Gotta go for now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Second Round


I am sitting here in the recliner in my doctor’s center, with a needle in the port in my heart. This is my second round of chemo. The chemo is not in yet, but will be soon. First I get some anti-nausea stuff pumped in, then some steroids. Then, we take a little break so Nurse Rugby can play the crystal bowl. Then comes chemo one, then chemo two. Two together this time.

I have had a great week with lots of energy and a great appetite. I had a great mind body class last night, with a focus on what an amazing entity our bodies are. I am reminded that our bodies can take a huge beating and recover. I am not looking forward to returning to the place where I was after the last chemo- grossed out by food, tired, uncomfortable in my body. I went on a walk this morning while waiting for my ride, and I remembered my tree vision in the MRI machine. I reminded myself that today (and maybe for a few days) is my time for rest. Last week was my time for energy. My energy will come back again after my rest. My appetite will come back again too.

I still have my hair today. I’m sure its days are limited. I had a dream last night that I was pulling it out in hunks, but when I checked this morning it was still there. I’m looking at some more wigs on Friday. I got a great new hat yesterday- a very jaunty one.

Some great things happened last week. I was looking at my vision board, and I realized that things are coming true from it! There is a picture of me playing soccer on it, and I got to play soccer on Sunday. “Comfy couch” is on there, and I found a great couch on Craig’s list. The seller came down in price for me, and said he’d deliver it for free as soon as the weather clears up. It was very easy. I can’t wait to lie on it and just sink into it. I got a scholarship for both the warm water pool and water classes at Tamarack, and for the yoga classes. I still needed a place with a sauna, so I thought of the YMCA. I knew that they did their scholarships in October, but I decided to ask anyway. I went in and I was wearing one of my hats and feeling kind of self-conscious. I got a gruff guy at the desk and when he asked why I wanted a scholarship, I was so uncomfortable. I told him that I had had a recent serious medical diagnosis and I needed a sauna. I was sure he was going to say “no”, but instead he asked me how much could I pay per month. I had no idea what I could afford, but “$25.00” came out of my mouth and he said ok and that I could have a family scholarship so my kids could come too. Wow, it was so easy! He turned out to really be a nice guy just pretending to be gruff. So, things are falling into place for me just as needed.

I am still needing to take some “leaps of faith” in some areas of my life. I am so scared about money. I am amazed at how quickly it goes with me doing all the ----------------------------------------------

Ok, the chemo is now in. Nurse Rugby did a beautiful singing bowl time, and I held the chemo bag again with my smoky quartz up next to it. In class last night the teacher talked about one woman who imagined chemo as being like nectar because she knew it was making her better. The red koolaid chemo does look like humming bird nectar, so I’m going to start thinking of it that way too.

So, the money goes quickly with the co-pays for the acupuncture, massage, chiropractor, and all the vitamins and good food. I’m trying to figure how how to make it last and how to not take too much time off work. I can get really caught up in the worry of all that. So, I’ve been making a conscious effort to pray and to ask God to take care of it and to trust completely that it will be taken care of as easily as everything else. For some reason I can have faith in many areas, but the area of money is a hard one.

I was given a cd to listen to during chemo, specifically about relaxing during chemo, so time to be done writing so I can listen to that. And, I brought along a romantic comedy to watch. I am in need of some more light hearted romantic comedies, so if anyone has any to loan, I’d be grateful!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Soccer Day!!! and Wise Men


Ok, this is really two different postings, but it's late so I'm combing them. Most exiting first: I PLAYED SOCCER TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

I was feeling so good again yesterday and I had an email about a game today, so I replied and said I'd play. Of course I immediately had doubts. But I also felt this stubborn streak inside me- the part of me that REALLY wanted to be able to play. I figured I could just sub out if it wasn't working, and at least I'd get to sit in the box with my team and watch the game. Yesterday was such a beautiful, clear, sunny (but cold) day. It was a refreshing break from all the rain. The girls and I had a great swim in the warm water salt pool at Tamarack, then visited with a friend, then indulged at Sweet Life, then went ROLLER BLADING along the river to the River Play Park. I went on my roller blades, and they tried out their new Christmas scooters. This was my first real exercise since September, aside from the slow walking I've been doing. My muscles felt like jelly, but it was so beautiful and so nice to be outside, full of energy, with my kids, that I did just fine. I was afraid of falling, and there was a lot of debris on the path, but I prayed and was very careful and I didn't fall. I had a few hours of feeling like my old self again, and the girls and I got to connect and bond in a way that we haven't been able to do since before my surgeries. I have always known that our relationship is special, but I was reminded and reinforced about how special it is that I have them. I was so very tired last night, but still having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep sleep.

This morning I went to my soccer game and what an experience that was, on different levels. As far as the physical activity of playing soccer, it was wonderful. I worked up a good, long sweat that felt great. I've been told that it's important for me to sweat every day as it will do a good job of getting the chemo toxins out of my body. It's been recommended that I get into a sauna every day for 30 minutes. The only way to do this is to join a gym, and that has been out of my reach for now. So, I haven't been sweating. But today I sure did. My muscles turned to rubber in the first 5 minutes and I was shaking all over, so I subbed out pretty quickly. But I got right back in and the muscles settled down and I was able to play for longer stretches at time. My boob was very sore immediately when I began to run, so I mostly sort of shuffled along and when I did run, I just tried to hold onto it with my arm. It may have looked strange, but oddly enough, I was so happy to be there, I didn't care at all how I looked. It was a very freeing feeling. I also was very nervous when I was in close proximity to people fighting for the ball. Each time that happened, I sort of crossed my arms over my breasts and it was ok. I had a chance at a goal at the very end, but then the game was over. It's amazing how this experience has made every aspect of my life exquisitely sweet. I love soccer more than ever now. Again, I got to feel a tiny glimpse of my old self today. My acupuncturist has told me to save 20% or so of my energy reserves for healing, so as hard as it was, I did hold back and not play as hard as I maybe could have.

The other piece about the soccer experience had to do with my hair, and the bigger lesson that goes along with my hair deal. It's obviously very, very much shorter now than it was before. So far, I've only been around people who know about the cancer, or out in public amongst strangers. The strangers don't give me a second glance, as they don't know what I looked like before. The people who know me have been very kind and said nice things about my hair (thank you, kind people!). In spite of all this, a part of me does feel quite self-conscious about it. When I look in the mirror, sometimes I look like a scared 20 year old and I don't see the 39 year old, confident me. It freaks me out a bit. Anyway, I played at the indoor place today, and it was packed. My team mates who know what's going on with me were very kind and supportive and happy to see me and kind about my hair. A lot of the people who were in the building were people who I know casually from the past 4 years of playing soccer in the community. They don't know what's going on with me and haven't seen me since October when I stopped playing. I got some surprised (and maybe horrified?) stares and some barely polite comments about my hair. I didn't really know how to respond. I'm certainly not going to drop the cancer bomb on a casual acquaintance as I'm engaged in a quick exchange. What I ended up saying was, "I didn't have a lot of choice with my hair and there is a story behind it. Nice to see you again, gotta go!" I'm confused about what to do when I'm bald. After today, I don't think there's any way I can wear a wig when I'm playing soccer. It would be way too hot and sweaty and itchy and I'd be so afraid of it falling off. I thought I could just wear a hat, but it will be pretty obvious that I'm bald. What kind of comments will I be getting then from those casual acquaintances then? Or, if I did wear the wig, how would I explain the sudden hair growth? I think my big lesson here is more about letting go. I can't control what's going to happen to my hair, and I can't control people's comments, but I can control my response. I can just come up with a short phrase again. How about, "Yeah, I'm bald. I lost my hair during chemo. Nice to see you again, gotta go!" Ah shit, why does this have to be so hard?

Speaking of the wig, the girls tell me it looks like a mullet. They are right. Its pretty big and fluffy on the top and it looks weird. I thought it was ok in the shop, but at home it looks weird. I'm taking it back in sometime this week to see what can be done. I'm kind of scared to go back to work this week. My co-workers are fine, but all the people I work with in the community I will have to face. How will I explain very short, dark hair, with specks of grey one day, then shoulder length blonde hair the next? How many different times, and to how many different people, will I have to explain to and tell? And then I have to keep asking people to let me know if they are sick or not before I can see them. I'm not supposed to be around any sick people. And I need to get a sign up on my door asking people to wash their hands when they come inside. Ah, this sucks. It is so hard and stressful for me to tell new people, especially people I don't know really well, about the cancer in a quick, upbeat sort of way. I've enjoyed my nurturing time off, and now it's time to go back out into the big world. Yikes!

Ok, here's the wise man part. I realized that I've written a lot about the wise women in my life, but not really at all about the wise men. I actually have had quite a few male helpers. Men help in such a different way, but it is important to note that it is incredibly smart and wise the way they do it. It is like the wise women are my inner circle, surrounding me in nurturing love. The men are more like an outer circle, doing the things that need to be done so that I am freed up to be nurtured by the women. Here are a few of the things the men have done for me, sparing me of using my energy to do them myself:

Take my garbage to the curb and back again every week, mow my lawn, rake leaves, deal with my mess of a garden, install Karina's basketball hoop, fix my dishwasher, fix my broken drawers, give me hats, send me emails, pray for me, write a really cool article about me, wrap Christmas presents, organize Christmas for the girls and I, put up Christmas lights, carry heavy stuff for me, buy me groceries, bring me huge bags of Costco quick foods, make great cd's for me, leave chocolate smily faces where I will find them, cook dinners for me, light candles for me and send me positive, healing thoughts.

The men are more silent, but I can feel their positive, healing energy too, in a different way from the women. It creates a nice balance for me and for the universe. F is unique in that he has attributes of both the Wise Man and the Wise Woman- perfectly balanced all in one person. He is there in both circles. Right at this moment, in spite of the hair dilemma, I consider myself very, very, very lucky and loved.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


January First, 2009!

What a great first day of the year! I FEEL GREAT TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven't felt this good since this all began. I was able to eat today, very yummy, healthy foods. I did not need a nap today. My arm felt way, way better today and I had significantly increased range of motion. I had NO nausea medicine today. I had NO medication of any kind today! Not even tylenol! I feel tired and good enough that I'm going to attempt sleep without a sleeping pill!

Ok, ok, enough of the exclamation marks. Part of me wants to just sit back and bask in the glory of well being and be totally grateful and that's enough. But, the other part of me needs to analyze it so I can come back and re-create it later if need be. So, here goes:

Yesterday was a low for me. I've been feeling so terribly uncomfortable in my body that I can't be in one position for very long. My couch totally sucks and I haven't been able to sit on it. It's the only piece of furniture I have, so I've just been spending lot's of time in my bed, which is very comfortable. As I type this, I'm sitting ON MY COUCH! So, as I wrote before, I did the acupuncture/reiki yesterday. The acupuncturist also put an acacia seed in my ear, held in place by a tiny bandage looking thing, and left it there. It's still there. It's either for nausea or insomnia, or maybe something else, I can't remember. But, for some reason, I think it's a big part of how I feel today. The acupuncture went much better this time, although I was uncomfortable on the table, from being in one position for so long. Last night, I was so tired of my arm hurting that I got on my knees and prayed to God for some relief. I was taught by a wise woman that physically being on my knees is an important part of this type of prayer. I also put in another prayer request for myself, specifically about my arm and feeling good during chemo. I put some arnica gel all over my arm. I was still pretty agitated last night, so I took a sleeping pill and slept sort of ok. Karina woke us all up after midnight to yell "Happy New Year" and have a grapefruit juice toast. In the morning, I woke up to the sound of wind and rain. I opened my window wide and shifted around in my bed so I could see a huge pine tree out my back window. I watched it for about an hour and it was dancing in the wind and I could hear the swishing sound of its branches. It was indescribably beautiful. At my last mind/body class, we meditated on a beautiful place, and I put myself in my hammock in my backyard, with a view of this tree. So this morning was almost like living my meditation. As I was laying on the bed, I stretched both arms up over my head. BOTH ARMS! The right arm didn't go all the way up, but it went way, way farther than it has before. I discovered that I could do some stretching exercises on the bed with the mattress bearing the weight of my arm. I got up and slowly as the day went on, I felt better and better.

One of my wise women friends came by and brought me the most delicious salad for lunch. It was the first time in a while that food tasted really, really good to me. I had enough energy to go shopping with her and we got some cast iron pans and a crock pot and a new blender (the cats, or kids? broke my old one). I've been advised to use only cast iron or stainless steel to cook in, so I got rid of my old frying pans. I've also been advised to increase my iron with beef, leafy greens, and blackstrap molasses. My friend dropped me at home and went to the store and bought all the ingredients for me to make a beef stew in the crock pot tomorrow. She also cooked up a whole batch of red chard. I can't stand cooked leafy greens, so I only let her cook them up to be polite, and a bit out of curiosity because she said they'd taste good. The smell was so good, not like what I'm used to cooked greens smelling like. I ate some and they were GREAT! I ended up having a small bowl full. She also made the most amazing drink. In a jar she mixed fresh grated ginger, molasses, and honey. I put a spoonful in a cup and added hot water to make a tea. It is SO GOOD and seems to help the nausea. We talked about how in past times, if a person in a community got sick, everyone else just pitched in what they knew to do to help the person get well. I am so very fortunate that this is what is happening for me here in my community. I am well aware that it is unique and special.

Another wise woman came by later and brought an amazing tea that she made herself of different herbs. She told me what they were, and what they were for, but I can't recall. I do know that when I drank it, my mouth felt vibrant and alive and kind of zingy. I had a few more cups throughout the day. She also did some reiki with me and spent the afternoon talking and she is such a healing, calm presence that I felt great after she left. A third wise woman came by with the best southern food ever- black-eyed peas, home made corn bread, and ham. Delicious! Maybe a part of my healing is just being in the presence of wise, nurturing women.

The girls had a play date bowling today and were so happy and carefree when they got home. I felt good enough to sit up in a chair and eat with them and even read to them. We're reading a great fairy book at the moment. Then, they're favorite babysitter came and I got to go out on a real date with F! We had an amazing dinner at a Wok restaurant and I ate beef for the first time in a long time. Once I started eating it, I realized that I was craving it. I remembered that when I was pregnant, I craved red meat too. After dinner we went for a walk in the rain and got freezing cold. Then we jumped into the hot tubs at Onsen's and the same magic happened as before. I was instantly immersed in healing warmth and my arm felt so great. It was windy and we could see tall trees blowing above us and feel the cold rain falling down. F gave me the nicest massage and I realized that my whole right side has been all crunched up and tight and contorted for the past month or so. The massage was heavenly and I was feeling so good and we ended up just laughing and laughing for an hour. I smiled so much that my face is almost as sore as my arm is from all this typing! I get it about laughter and humor being a good healing medicine.

Once the girls were in bed for the evening, I had a root beer float and it just topped off the evening. My arm is now really sore, and I don't want to push it too much after today, so that's all for now. I go in tomorrow for another shot (I did not need one today since my white blood cells were plenty high enough- yeah!) The nurses have encouraged me to bring the girls in so they can meet them and so the girls can get to know them a bit, so we will do that together and hopefully I'll be having another great day and we'll get to have a fun day together!