Western education 2013

Friday, January 29, 2010

..... round 5 week 3

..... I am starting to feel more myself. My hands and feet still feel strange to me.... a little disconnected from the rest of me and constantly dry, my eyebrows are thinning out and the hair on my head that was starting to grow in has begun to fall out again.... I expect that most everything will return to some kind of normal weeks after the last dose.....

Today was a day filled with messages from friends letting me know that they are still there... thank you so much, my spirits were lifted and I felt really good today. Thank you to Jim Page for dropping by and bringing a great card from the engineering crew and thank you for the generous gift card - I wish you knew how much I miss being there with all of you. One day at a time. I was not expecting company and realize that without make-up, thinned eyebrows, darkened rings under my eyes and a ghostly paleness..... I was not looking my best!!!

My husband and I attended a pre-marital course just before we got married in 2001. The sponsoring couple gave us a beautiful unfinished wooden chest and said that we could decorate it and use it to house the love notes and words of praise that we could share with each other. Today I took it off my dresser, cleaned it and painted it with the acrylic paints I bought yesterday. It felt good to use my hands painting tiny flowers on the bright green background and gluing some silver beads on the front to use as a knob. It's amazing what bright colors and sunshine splashing across the family room carpet in the afternoon can do to one's soul. It was a very quiet afternoon spent carefully forming the miniature flowers and only concentrating on the task at hand...... goodbye depression. I must remember to keep the art supplies close at hand when I get back to my life and to remember to spend time enjoying the things I used to make time for years ago. Lydia and Mitchel are enjoying the supplies and have been producing more involved art projects that are colorful and using multiple medias.

This weekend was peaceful and spent making art projects with the kids while Max began producing the built-in's for our multi-media equipment..... his skill, 2 days (spread over 2 weekends) and $120 worth of materials will give us additional storage space that will leave our family room without clutter!!

Thank you to Sue for a wonderful lunch - it was really great to get out and see you!!! Looking forward to floating in the pool this summer!!

Monday 01 February

Day is starting slow but loving the sun!!! I am home today and very tired. My knees are still sore and my hips ache but I attempt to get out for a walk. I shuffle around all night in bed searching for that elusive comfy spot but not succeeding!! It will come but just before my next chemo and then I will spend another two weeks looking for it again!!

I spoke with my mother on the phone this evening...... the news is in - Dad has been diagnosed with Dementia. We knew this was coming but it has progressed to a point where he now needs care outside of what Mom can give him. I will say that the two of them have been struggling for a while now and perhaps they will finally sell the farm and move into a flat in town. Dad has felt isolated for some time now what with his clinical blindness and not being able to drive makes him feel like his legs have been taken from beneath him. I am still unable to travel and can only be there on the phone for them - it is a 5 hour trip by car. My brother has been instrumental in taking care of them for the past two years whenever he can get away. Sending hugs.

Tuesday 02 February

It is GroundHog day today and I have sent birthday wishes to my younger sister - it is enough to say that she has estranged herself from the family and I know I will not hear back from her. Shame really, but then she never really was that nice to me and so I go on with my day but wish her happy thoughts anyway.

I go to Art Therapy today and make a picture collage of wonderful bright and colorful pictures that I have pulled out from a number of National Geographic and Gardening magazines.... it is supposed to represent me in my physical form... the ancient gazelle head represents wisdom. The arms are made of flowers with gardening gloves at the ends representing my hands... one hand is wielding a tool and the other a light. My legs end in two brilliantly metallic beetles that are going in opposite directions - like me most days.... busy and always multitasking in two different directions. I have a heart made from a shiny green beetle and tucked in amongst the elegant cranes (patient and still) is a little girl in a dance outfit.... she is the little girl I still am inside that the Art and my illness have awoken. She does not need to be protected, just heard and comforted... just sometimes. My mood is stellar today and I am so excited to see the girls again. I have created a bond with these ladies and I miss them dearly when I can not make it.

I have an opportunity later to see the results of a double breast reconstruction and am duly impressed. As the girls in my Art class would say - Avatar breasts (the movie currently in the theaters and causing quite a stir as being the best film ever!!). I will eventually see a reconstructive surgeon but need to do more research into finding the right one and am not really sure if that is what I want to do anyway.... time will tell.

I am really tired today by early afternoon. I head out in the late afternoon to pick up a few groceries at the Metro a block away.

Wednesday 3rd January

This afternoon I head out to the hospital for 'tattoo' day in the Radiation department. I arrive 1/2 hour early at the Radiation Reception desk on the first floor of the London Regional Cancer Clinic.... it is a floor below the chemo suite and am issued with a pager. I make my way over to the waiting room and see that the volunteers have just wheeled in a coffee cart. Ah, cold ice water hits the spot and I make my way over a number of times for a refill. I am very thirsty these days and have a hard time keeping hydrated . A lady sitting near by talks to me about her husband and that he has a tumor on his larynx. She kept saying that she told him to go and see a doctor but by the time he went the tumor was enlarged enough that he now has a feeding tube and has just begun chemo.... this was a tumor they believed to be linked to a reflux problem he had as a young man but never followed up on it.

The Radiation Technician is scanning faces as she walks around. I ask her who she is looking for and surprise... it is me!! She introduces herself as Lisa. She is very pleasant and sweet as she escorts me to a changing room and instructs me to strip to the waist and put on a gown with the ties in the back. I enter into a room with a cat scan and an unusual set up on the moveable platform. The incline is fitted with a padded flat panel for my rear to rest on and the clear plexy attached to it rises up to form a neck rest. There is an arm and shoulder rest for my left arm that will hold my arm up and away from my left side to expose the breast and left chest to the CT scan. This is the kind of rig that will be in place for each of my radiation appointments. I am introduced to Christine who is taking measurements with the use of laser eyes from multiple points in the room which will produces crosshairs. Special tape is placed across each of the scars that I have from the surgeries so that they will act as markers in the pictures that the Scan will create. I am now marked in a number of places with marker and tape and am instructed to stay as still as possible. About 5 minutes later, the pictures are done and Lisa comes over to see me. She will now 'tattoo' the little freckles on my skin that will be used as permanent markers for all my radiation treatments. She first swabs the three sites she will be marking with alcohol and then uses a stick soaked in ink to daub the sites. A needle is then used to pierce each of the inked sites to produce said tattoo. I am done and Lisa continues to talk to me about what will come next and hands me a pamphlet. I was so impressed with the time these ladies took to inform and do the procedures. I enjoyed their company and shared some laughs... probably the best appointment I have had to go to through this entire journey. Thank you so much.

Tonight Will is being a teen and unfortunately for him, he is now grounded. Funny how he just fell asleep - probably what he really needed more than anything. I covered him up and kissed his forehead. Love you baby.

I did some light plaster work - nail holes etc and primed today. I am too tired to carry on and so I blog and get ready for bed. Tomorrow I go for blood work and my Oncology appointment. Night Night.

Thursday 4th January

Today I head out to the hospital for a regularly scheduled blood work and meeting with the Oncologist's team. It is 7 a.m and I am having a hard time getting up and going..... I am one of the first patients to arrive - they do not have my blood work requisition ready and I find a comfy seat to wait. There is a vietnamese woman sitting by herself in the dark and quiet waiting room and I sit near her and say hello. Her english is broken at best but her smile and her willingness to practice her new language is obvious. We talk for a few minutes and I am patient as she struggles to find the right words and she blushes when she gets it wrong... I smile back and repeat what she has said and she nods and says thank you when I figure out what she wants to get across. She has been here for a year and the first 6 months she tried working but lost her job, so now she takes english classes.... that is until she discovered a lump in her breast. This is the second one that she has had and both were recently removed. She indicates that it is not cancer but I wonder why she is here? She tells me that her father died of liver cancer. Two women seat themselves near us - they are from the middle east and speak very well in English and quickly engage in conversation with me. The vietnamese lady gets called and we clasp hands and bid each other good bye. She grabs my arm and says thank you, nods and smiles down at me as she rises to go chase after the nurse that has started to move off. I relocate closer to clinic 3's kiosk when the other lady I have been chatting with responds to her pager.

My pager goes off a half hour later and I follow the nurse to the weigh scale... looks like I have put on a couple of pounds - easy to do when you are in physical pain and your appetite has hit an all-time high. The nurse who comes to talk to me indicates that I am considered overweight to obese..... by their charts pretty much everyone in the waiting room fits that description. I will admit though that the weight will be challenging to get off until I can get back into the gym. She tells me that I can likely start back when the pain subsides. Looking forward to getting back into shape. The nurse also indicates to me that alcohol should not be imbibed simply because their statistics indicate that the reoccurrence for breast cancer patients that do so is significant enough to warrant the warning. The last time I had a drink would have been 1/2 glass of red wine and before that would have been in August before my second surgery. I do not miss it but on occasion will still have a glass of wine. I will have another appointment with Oncology in March as a follow-up.

I would like to congratulate Heather R. whose son was born on February 1st and to Melissa and Norm for the safe arrival of Erika on the 3rd of February!! I love babies!!

Friday 5th February

I am headed off to the college this morning to have coffee with my boss. Elaine is sick today but waves to me from the door way. I miss all of you and it felt good to walk into the college after 8 months. I really enjoyed our chat and look forward to another coffee soon. Thanks so much.

I spent the afternoon in quiet... I am very tired these days... apparently the nurse also said that my red cell count was low and I can feel it. I am almost done. I will enjoy my week end and look forward to finishing my chemo journey!!!!

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