Monday, November 30, 2009

Copyright Dan Piraro

Artificial intelligence sounds a lot like genuine stupidity, doesn't it? More to come; plans for an actual post tomorrow. Meanwhile, this rose to the top of the stack, for our amusement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Big C Downdate

Boi-oi-oinnng. Welcome to Attitude Smackdown! Feelin' better, are ya? Well, here's my reminder that good times don't last, either. I know just how Buddy feels.

First, the labs showed I have almost no RBC (1.87) or WBC (3.6), and Hgb was just 6.0. So I was sent immediately for a blood transfusion. I think this was my first-ever blood transfusion; I don't even think I got blood during my Stem Cell Transplant. It turned out to be a 4-hour joyride of tedium and discomfort. I was just so happy about jumping ship from the clinical trial, and the visit from Supergirl 1, and seeing my neighbors again, that I just refused to notice how quickly I was circling the drain.

Second, the PET scan report was full of not-good news. I was amused, however, that the radiologist used the phrase "moth-eaten" three times. Describing my neck, "Lytic bony lesions throughout the cervical spine are again demonstrated with an overall increased patchy, moth-eaten appearance compared to August 2008." The exact same verbiage describes my ribs and pelvis. I have a seriously moth-eaten (appearing) skeletal structure. I guess it's too late to try snacking on mothballs.

Third, the next round of chemo is Cytoxin. You know when "toxin" is right there in the drug name, we're talkin' Big Guns. The free ride is over. More steroids, bring on the Crazies and the Diabetes. And bye-bye curls, hello Baldini.

Well, I'm not going to say, "it could be worse."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Over the River

... and through Kokomo, the crotch of Indiana! I can't get to the Homeland without enjoying that particular scenic highlight. Bro 2 is flying in today. I'll put his mechanical skills to work on a couple of Villa projects, and then pack for the shlep northward for Thanksgiving.

I'm feeling significantly better... I took myself off of the clinical trial last week. After two months of no stamina, being unable to cross the room without gasping for air, and worst of all, the 24/7 nausea...  ENOUGH. I may find out tomorrow what new form of torture the medical team has in store; I'm hoping my "treatment holiday" lasts a few more weeks but at this point I know that's a mighty slim possibility. I will just have to savor and rejoice in not feeling like crap for several consecutive days.

The less-crappy euphoria coincided with a visit from one of my favorite people on the whole planet, Supergirl #1! I had postponed a planned September visit, and didn't have the heart to cancel again... but as it turned out, I was having quite a boomerang reaction to going off chemo. We had a wonderful visit. I finally let her tackle a couple cleaning projects here and she went at it with zeal and gusto. She vacuumed a whole 'nother dog's worth of hair from the living rooms nooks & crannies.

SG1 got to meet many of the Hoodies -- Miss Chris hosted the Last Nice Evening of the Season gala on her deck Saturday night. There have been several such celebrations; we keep having unbelievably pleasant, warm weather! But (a) I have missed all the others and (b) we're pretty sure this was really the last nice evening.

I'm always thrilled when my family gets to meet some of my awesome, amazing friends and vice versa. After several weeks of wallowing in despair and misery -- and just in time for Thanksgiving -- it was great to be reminded that even after two years of illness, I am blessed beyond belief, certainly beyond anything I deserve, in devoted friends and loving family members.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Critter Fun

I missed Trash Day today. Still, this made me smile: Smiling Animals.
Too much time, too much money: wigs for dogs.
Too cute: otter babies.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big C Update

It's been a difficult week here at the Villa. An MRI showed "nothing unusual," which I find hard to believe because while they were doing the MRI, flames and fireworks were shooting out of my back. I was just sure something would be glowing neon orange. I think the radiologist may be part of the problem.

Another part of the problem was that I was making myself even sicker on pain medication, trying to get some relief, so I met with... a pharmacologist? something like that... and they made some big changes in my pain Rx regimen. But again, this is a short term solution to the problem.

After some conversation about the clinical trial, I reminded my Health Care Professionals that their mantra has always been, "We treat the patient, not the disease." Well, this little patient has been telling them for about two months that THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG with my hips & back. It's like a replay of my road to diagnosis. Am I supposed to speak Urdu? Semaphores? Some African clicking language? I believe I finally persuaded them that this is my priority. I wanted to bring in a neurologist, an orthopedist, another radiologist, but my doc believes the next step is another PET scan. Wonder of wonders, DieSuckah Health Insurance approved it in the first round (I guess they're sick of paying for MRIs) so that is scheduled for next week.

So I've been trying to adjust to the new meds, which have improved pain management, but seem to amplify the nausea issue. It's always something.

In the midst of the drama 'n trauma, I was ready to cancel a Cooking Club supper here Saturday night but decided to tough it out. Thanks to Sis helping with errands and some cleaning, it wasn't too bad... and my girls provided some spirit-lifting soups! Oh, man, was that some good stuff! We got to see Karin's pics of a recent 2.5 week trip to Italy and we're all coveting a similar trip. Cathy F, as usual, brought extra goodies: some DVDs, magazines, and a few meals for the freezer.

I got through the evening with minimal groaning and teeth-gnashing. I'll be spending the day on the sofa, recovering. (Right now, walking across the room requires a brief recovery.) Things are still tough, but I know they could be so much worse, I'm happy to settle for medium-crappy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Avgolemon Soup (Lemon Chicken Soup)

I've had two requests for this recipe. Avgolemon Soup requires some time, mess and fuss, so it's worth it to make a big batch and freeze it in pints. It's wonderful to share with cold & flu sufferers: got yer chicken, yer veggies and yer citrus!

Bright-Sided Again

There's a Sunday evening soap opera called Brothers and Sisters. It seemed like a Harrold Robbins schmaltzfest, a gooey sort of Dynasty or Falcon Crest (minus the shoulder pads) (which, I hear, are coming back.) But I've watched bits of it the last few weeks because one of the characters, Kitty (played by Calista Bobblehead Flockhart) has Lymphoma.

Sure enough, last night she raised just the idea of discontinuing chemo, and you'd have thought she was talking about killing bunnies with her bare hands. Her mother and sister jumped on her, feet first, and they all dissolved in tears. Gee, they'd qualify for my not-so-supportive support group.

Near the end of the show, Kitty decided to shave her head rather than watching it fall out every day. Bald actually looks pretty good on her, as mom and sis point out. I guess the writers intended this to be some kind of empowering activity.

Bobblehead Kitty will probably come around and agree to more chemo; after all, she's only had one round. I understand the family's reasoning, really I do, but it's frustrating when even fictional cancer patients aren't allowed to make their own decisions about treatment.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sorry for the absence. I seem to be stringing several of these in a row. Hope to be back soon.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Abuser = Bully = Coward

Yesterday I was listening to NPR's Fresh Air. Terry Gross was interviewing the director of the upcoming movie, Precious. (I think his name was Lee Daniels.) He talked about his own abusive parents.

I grew up in my own little Norman Rockwell painting. Once in a blue moon, my parents would deliver a well-deserved open-handed swat to the tush. It was called a potch (rhymes with notch) and usually just the threat -- especially in public -- was enough to bring us back in line. And I thought that's how everyone else grew up. I had no idea.

In our first house, a little post-war crackerbox, I vaguely remember a not-so-gay divorcée. She had a kid who was dirty, sticky and mean. No one wanted to play with him, of course, but I don't know that there was any abuse going on.

When we moved to a larger house, there was a girl, Buffy, at the end of the block who lived in the Dark House. It was almost completely hidden by shrubbery, and all the windows had curtains drawn, all the time. We were kids, she was my age. I think we were in 6th grade together...but she didn't dress like the rest of us. She wore mini-skirts and high heels and make-up. Buffy had a lot of bruises on her arms - and probably everywhere else, too. She joked about being a klutz, but she wasn't clumsy. She never came to school dances or football games. She was never in our carpool; I don't remember her parents ever interacting with any of the neighbors. I read this over now, and I wonder why no one said anything: all the signs were there, clearly. As for me, I didn't have a clue. I could not imagine a parent hurting their child. But I look back now, and I can't think of anything else to explain it all.

My very first apartment was in a pretty dicey part of town. It was an old house converted into three apartments. My friend lived upstairs, I had one of the downstairs apartments and in the other apartment was a wife beater and his victim. He used to turn up the stereo to camouflage the sound of his beating, and my friend and I occasionally complained... about the loud music. But I don't think it ever occurred to us to call the police. That's just how we lived then. (You know the old masochist's joke: Why do you stay with that man? Beats me...)

I'm sure there were other instances, other near-invisible victims. Abusers are nothing more than pathetic, insecure bullies and when confronted, they flee like cockroaches. We've learned to shine a bright light into those dark corners, to recognize victims, and to intercede on their behalf. That can only be good, right? If you know someone who is not growing up in happy, pristine all-American vignettes and needs someone to step up and help them, think of Ghandi's words: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Making Lemonade

Or maybe Pumpkin Punch. When this bride was left at the altar, she decided to donate her paid-for reception, creating a party for seniors. Awwww!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Periscope Up

Cycle 2 is kicking my booty around the block and back. I've got the whole list of side effects and a few new ones, just for fun. At the top of the list is numbing, crippling fatigue. Between that and concerns about friends who are just getting over (or just beginning to incubate) a wretched cold or flu, I decided to skip a Hoodie soiree last night. My dear friends picked up my cornbread contribution and brought Molly to the party.

They brought me a bag full of leftovers to enjoy, which was wonderful. They included some of the host's chili which I couldn''t resist tasting last night. Yeah. Lemme tell you, that was some serious five-alarm, slap yo' mama, cry like a little girl and beg for mercy hot, hot chili. Either that, or I've become a total Nancy boy, featherweight, candy ass, wimp of the century, sissy girl. I'm not taking bets on which.

In between holding the sofa down, I've been trying to post a poem Sis & I wrote for our parents on the occasion of their 36th anniversary. I made some modifications -- a couple weeks ago they celebrated their 57th Wedding Anniversary! How's that for a spectacular achievement? Especially with the challenges some of their children occasionally presented.

For security reasons (there may be one or two people who don't know) I've left out last names. My parents, Corinne and Erwin, have always gone by Corky and Erv. Their parents were (Dad) Florence and Harry and (Mom) Sophie and Harold. I give you...The Ballad of Corky and Erv.