frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend Recap

Howdy all, hope you had a good weekend. Mine did not get off to an auspicious start, thanks to Saturday, which was one of those days where you end up feeling like the universe is doing really annoying things specifically to you on purpose. For example, take lunch. I decided I wanted an omelette from a local restaurant that makes some pretty good ones. Well, when I got there at about 12:30, I found that though I could still order from a truncated breakfast menu they had stopped serving omelettes.

Now I realize that may not sound like a big deal. But here's the thing about being on chemo, at least for me. On the rare occasions when you actually feel like eating something, it's usually a very particular thing. And if you can't get that particular thing, it's more upsetting than usual, because in that moment, nothing else sounds good.

But there wasn't much I could do in this case. So I left the restaurant and drove around aimlessly until I stopped wanting the omelette and started wanting a sandwich.

I won't even go into the harrowing details of my sandwich search. Suffice to say I went to three different places, and came up empty-handed every time. At one place the sandwich-making person was going way too slow with the person in front of me. at another everything was too expensive and the atmosphere was all wrong, and at the third they didn't take credit cards and I had no cash. I finally ended up going to Goldstein's for a bagel sandwich, which was not at all the kind of sandwich I wanted, and which I didn't like when I finally ate it.

I was very cranky after that.

Thankfully, I was in a much better mood on Sunday, so when I went with a couple friends to the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA, I actually had a great time wandering among the seemingly endless array of booths (booksellers, writing societies, small presses, Scientologists, etc), and attending a couple of panels. I'd hoped to make an early-morning panel featuring author Uwem Akpan (Say You're One Of Them) among others. but unfortunately we arrived late and couldn't get in. So we went to the food court to get some lunch instead, where I paid way too much for the worst chicken teriyaki bowl I've ever had in my life (a friend called it teriyucky).

After that we went to another panel about the "Poetry of Engagement", which was more interesting than it sounds, particularly when a woman in the audience who everyone thought had a question for one of the panelists turned out to have more of an almost-rant about the environment (when she turned to the audience and asked who still used plastic bags at the grocery store, I wanted so badly to raise my hand, just to see if she would yell at a cancer patient about killing the earth, but I didn't).

Later, we tried to get into Jane Smiley's interview of S.E. Hinton, but alas, it was a packed house. So we roamed around for a while until it was time for a fiction panel called, for no discernible reason, "Closing Time". You'd think they'd have had some beers or something for everybody, with a title like that. but no. More's the pity. Still, it was entertaining. My favorite bit was when author Wells Tower was talking about revision, and said that at first people think of revision as being the clean-up after the party (the party being the initial act of writing). Then as you get more experienced, you start to think that revision is the party. But after a while you recognize the truth – that actually there is no party, it's all just a lot of hard work. I laughed at that, because a) he said it a lot funnier than I just did, and b) it really sums up how I feel about writing most of the time, but especially lately, and I was glad to know I'm not alone.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Accounting

So I'm really trying to be good and do what the doctor said; namely, eat more. It is by no means easy, since I continue to have absolutely no appetite. But here's what I ate today:

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with raisins
A handful of dried apricots
A milk chocolate Ghirardelli square with caramel inside (because it is NEVER too early in the day for chocolate, kids, appetite or not)

Lunch:
A bottle of vanilla-flavored Ensure (it's not just for old people anymore!)
A cup of raspberry yogurt
(OK, I didn't do so well in the lunch department. Sue me.)

Afternoon snacks:
Wild cherry sorbet + vanilla frozen yogurt (probably the best-tasting thing I had all day)
One Cheezit (which so completely repulsed me that I couldn't even remotely entertain the idea of having more—sad, because normally I like Cheezits)
Three or four chocolate animal-cracker type cookies

Dinner:
Two homemade bean-and-cheese burritos with salsa and lite sour cream
A couple very thin slices of tri-tip

Dessert:
A Chinese almond cookie
Another Ghirardelli chocolate caramel square

Hmm, when I see it all written out like that, it doesn't seem like I ate much at all. Yet right now I feel as though I've completely gorged myself.

Bleah.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not for the Faint of Heart

Today I had a bit of a scare. As I was standing in the office kitchen this morning talking to a co-worker, I suddenly began to feel sweaty and a bit nauseated. Then my vision went cloudy and the weakness I'd already been feeling in my knees got definitely worse. I became super-lightheaded and realized that I was literally about to faint—something that had never happened to me before. Somehow I managed to finish the conversation without losing consciousness and walk, or stumble rather, back to my cube. I put my bottle of water down on my desk and went to the restroom to get myself together. Once I'd recovered sufficiently, I returned to my desk and did what any other normal person who had just nearly fainted would do.

I checked out my symptoms on the Internet.

The web is definitely a mixed blessing when it comes to diagnosing illnesses. Before I ever knew I had cancer, I had a few symptoms that, when I researched them, suggested I might be about to die from congestive heart failure. Either that or I had a pinched nerve. Hmm.

So of course, it shouldn't surprise anyone that when I typed "fainting" and "chemotherapy" into my Google search bar together, the first link that popped up started with the word "CARDIOMYOPATHY" in all caps, just like that. In case you're wondering what that is, let me save you the trouble of retracing my steps since (naturally) I already clicked on the link: "Cardiomyopathy is a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn't work as well as it should."

Now that's reassuring.

Finally I came to my senses and just called the doctor's office. The nurse who answered did not freak out and tell me to call 911 immediately. Instead she calmly suggested that I wasn't eating or drinking enough, which I had to admit was true. She said she'd leave a note for my doctor and that he'd give me a call to see how I was doing. He called me about an hour later, and after asking me a few questions, said the same thing as the nurse: "Make sure you're eating and getting enough fluids."

Heh. Easy to do when you feel hungry and food tastes good. A little bit harder when the thought of eating is almost enough to make you faint.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cumulative Effects

Round #4 of chemo was last Thursday, and I'm starting to see what people meant by saying the effects would be cumulative. The weekend was pretty much a wash. All I wanted to do was lie in bed, and that's mostly what I did. Today I made it back to work, but felt completely drained. Also majorly lacking in the appetite department. I ate, but didn't enjoy it.

What I did enjoy, however, was spending money I really shouldn't have, on some cute new clothes. Retail therapy works wonders, I must say. I never would have believed it, but thanks to cancer, I've discovered it's true!

At least, until I get next month's credit card bill.

On a completely other note, it's been incredibly hot here in Southern California. I mean, I know that's usually a given, but the past few days it's been a bit ridiculous. I went sans a hat yesterday and today, for the whole day; when it's over 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you're almost glad you're bald. I mean, assuming you are. Which I am. And if you're not, this weather might seriously make you consider it.

Man, it's so hot, I'm not even making any sense anymore. Or maybe it's another cumulative effect... but one that's related simply to being alive in my case. Can't really blame the chemo for that one, I guess. More's the pity.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unsettled

Tonight I received an email I'd been dreading, from the husband of a long-lost friend of mine. A friend who, I found out late last year, was struggling with a particularly bad cancer situation. I got back in touch with her after I heard the news, and we exchanged a couple of emails. Then I didn't hear anything from her for quite a while. I finally dropped her a line asking how she was doing and got no response. Until this evening, when her husband wrote to tell me that she had passed away about two weeks ago.

She was 33 years old. Like me.

I try not to think about death very much, but sometimes, like tonight, the subject is hard to avoid. And although my faith tells me that death isn't the end, the truth is, it still scares me a lot. Death is the ultimate unknown, and I've never handled the unknown very well. I like to feel as though I'm in control of my life, and in control of the things that happen to me. But having cancer has been a major a blow to that illusion. Even though my prognosis has been good from the beginning of this whole surreal saga, I've found it difficult not to think about my mortality.

"O death, where is thy sting?" wrote the Apostle Paul in his letter to the early church in Rome. Well, I'll tell you where it is. It's in the word "goodbye" when we don't get the opportunity to say it. Or when we do, knowing it's the last time. And it's in the sobering realization that we ever have to say it at all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Exhausted

Hey everyone, hope you all had a fabulous Easter weekend. Mine was great, but tiring, thanks to singing in the choir at my church at four different services. Whew!

Now here I am, coming up on round #4 in Chemoland this Thursday. Fun fun! I've heard that the effects of chemo are cumulative as the process goes on, which could explain why I have felt so completely exhausted the past few days. Yesterday I went for a walk with friends after work and I felt like I was barely managing to stay on my feet. Tonight I came home and did my taxes (nothing like waiting til the last minute!) and now here it is, not even 8:30pm and I'm already thinking about going to bed. Ugh.

Last time I had my blood work done, I was a little anemic. I'm a little concerned that I might be a lot more anemic now, as anemia could also be contributing to my fatigue. Guess I'll find out when I get my blood tested again on Thursday. I really hope I'm not, as that may necessitate having to get injected with yet another drug to help out my poor little red blood cells. But we'll see.

After this treatment, sometime around the week of the 27th, I'll get another PET scan to see if there's any cancer left. When I saw my doctor last week, he said that he's expecting it to come back negative, based on some x-rays I had done early on that showed the tumor practically gone already. (Yay!) I'll probably still have to finish out the chemo, which is a bummer, but then again I'd prefer that we do everything we can to make sure the lymphoma doesn't return, so I guess I'll just suck it up in my typical calm, cheerful, non-complaining fashion (yeah, right).

Anyway, thank you to all who have been thinking of me and praying for me through this crazy time. I don't know how I'd manage without you! Will continue to keep you updated...

Monday, April 06, 2009

An Ode to Humiliation

I remembered today that April is National Poetry Month. Yay! In honor of the occasion, I thought I'd dig into my elementary school archives and share one of my ancient poems with you, my darling readers.

I chose a piece titled, fittingly enough, "Poems." Here goes:

Poems paint a picture
Deep within the mind.
You can see them easily,
Even if you are blind.

Poems are like the wind,
Pushing clouds across the sky
Never staying in one place
They often make you sigh.


Or laugh hysterically, as the case may be.

I'm particularly intrigued by the second stanza's notion of poems never staying in one place. What on earth was I talking about? It's very weird.

Well anyway, there's nothing that says, "Celebrate National Poetry Month" like epically embarrassing yourself. I've obviously done my part, so now you can feel free to write your own poem in honor of National Poetry Day and post it in the comments section. And don't be shy. I mean, come on, look what I wrote. There is no way you can do worse than that.

Although if you can, I'd really appreciate it.

UPDATE: Hey, we've got some fun poems posted, so make sure to click on "Comments" to read them... and then add yours if you haven't already!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Equilibrium

I just re-read my last post. Wow, I was really feeling like crap the other day. Well, thankfully I am feeling much better now. Still a bit weak, and I have a sore throat, but my appetite is back and I'm not breaking into tears at the drop of a hat.

Which is good, because feeling depressed is just... depressing.

So anyway, here's to a great weekend, for all of us! With love from the frogg princess...