26 May 2009

Brushing Shoulders Off

I know it's been awhile between posts. I'm feeling great but have been more preoccupied by the outer life than the inner lately. I took on a work assignment for the first time since March, and then started noticing all of the things around the house that needed to be done. Being a recluse will do this to you.  I'm usually not such a freak about ill-fitting slipcovers. 

In the yard, I noticed my flower beds were starting to look like something out of the History Channel's “Life After People." Vegetation, weeds and bramble were taking over due to a lack of human intervention.  I had to take care of this lest we be invaded by feral cats.  (Seriously, have you seen this show? I have to get out more.) Anyway, weeding was therapeutic in more ways than one.  Got that dirt off my shoulders.

I planted some sunflowers with Caroline and Paulie while Vito attacked his reflection in the garden shovel (I know how you feel, V).  Like every year, we planted some tomatoes in big pots on the deck.  Even though we have room for a garden now, I can't help but do the containers. It's the Eastie in me.  My friend D.  noted it's only a matter of time before we "hot top" the backyard and plant a Bathtub Madonna amid the rhododendrons.  Can't have a yard without a shrine!

Follicle Magic

These days, I tend to avoid all mirrors or anything that produces a reflection.  There are times --  in between weekly drips and getting felt up by Czechoslovakian exchange students -- when I actually forget about the BC.  Then I'll see a reflection in my computer screen and it's right in my face: the glare off my bald head, eyes without eyebrows, the outline of a do-rag.  The alternatives aren't great: Headscarves make me look like Stephen Van Zandt. My raspberry beret, like a Guardian Angel.  My wig, kind of southern -- way too coiffed.  All are reminders, not just to me, but to everyone around me.

Aside: If I'm out and sense someone is uncomfortable, I will pull my wig way back on my head, giving myself a good Jan Brady five-head.  This tends to loosen people up.

Whenever I'm heading out with Caroline, she's adamant: "Mom! Whatever you do -- Do NOT forget your wig!" I originally thought she was embarrassed by the baldness.  But once we're out, she gives me up to everyone within earshot: “Do you like my mommy’s wig? She's actually bald.” 

Last week, I got out of the shower -- spaced out on autopilot -- and accidentally wiped off the steamed up mirror.  I saw a shadow on my head.  At first, I thought it was dirt.  When I tried to brush it off, my head felt fuzzy! Upon closer inspection, I realized I was definitely sprouting some fresh new follicles. The docs told me my hair could *possibly* start growing back in the Taxol/Herceptin phase of treatment, but not to expect it. I didn’t expect it.  And while it's not much, it’s something.  

Even though it could take up to six months to have a covering of hair, I have to say these first few follicles restored a little faith.  I always had a fairly optimistic outlook on life. Whenever I was going through a bad patch, I would flip ahead a few months on my desk calendar, pick a random date, and write something like: "Are things better?”  Usually, by the time I got to the selected date, things would have improved. This whole BC thing, for whatever reason, robbed me of that sense of things turning around.  Treatment is slow and long and it's easy to believe that you'll never feel or look like yourself again. It's easy to believe whatever the insidious bitch BC tells you.  The disease not only screws with your boobs but your head. 

So, my sense of things turning around has returned, at least for now.  This morning, I noticed the expiration date on the orange juice was June 29th.  Instead of gloomily focusing on the words "expiration date," my first thought was: "By June 29th, I will have been finished with chemo for a whole week."  ~Brushing shoulders off~

Bring on the Roadies

Of course, the inner hag wants to shelve the blueberries and quinoa for marbled meats, a few packets of Sweet & Low and a cigarette.  So far, I've pegged the BC on everything from shitty karma to hot dogs.  Last month, it was wine. "Our Daily Red." It's time to turn that around too and release the inner torment/hag/blame.  Get that dirt off your shoulders.  Live healthy, move forward, vices in moderation. And get out of the house more!

My final chemo is June 22. (Four more!)  I'm thinking about a roadie on the way home from the DF, a dirty martini in a to-go cup.  

"Remember what the drowning man said -- a little drunk is better than dead." 

Hats off in the HOV Lane

Two weeks ago, after a particularly long and slow treatment, we were rushing back from the DF, trying to make a Mother's Day Tea at the kids' school.  Of course, there was heavy traffic and by the time we reached Dorchester, we had to cut across four lanes to get into the HOV lane. We made it over in time, only to get pulled over by a State Trooper at the entrance.

James pulled over and looked at me: "Quick! Take off your hat!"

A perfect opportunity to play the cancer card. 

I whipped off my hat and leaned over the driver's seat so the trooper could get a good peek at my dome. James handed him the license and registration.

ME:  My fault. I am late for a Mother's Day event at school. We're in a hurry, the traffic, etc.

ST: (Totally unfazed, probably thinking I was a skinhead).  Reckless driving, lane switching not safe, not cool, etc. 

ME:  But officer, we are rushing back from, you know, chemo.

He let us go.  James' quick thinking saved the day. I made it to the event, a little late, but had had time to get the wig on!


...to my good friends Stevie B. and Colleen.  Both have been mentioned numerous times on the PU over the years.  Colleen left Boston several years ago to go work for the American Cancer Society in DC. While she no works longer there, she still participates in the Society's Annual Relay for Life. This year, she's assigned my name to her cause. I was overwhelmed by her letter.

This is Steven's 3rd time riding the Pan Mass Challenge.  This year he's dedicated his ride to his dad who just finished treatment for colon cancer, and also to me. He even mentions the PU on his page. His said no tears allowed. Too late, Stevie B. 

Thank you (with love) to both of you and everyone else who participates in these events, gives back, or just gives because they can. 

Please check them out!

Colleen-Relay for Life

Stevie B.—Pan Mass Challenge


Seven Songs of the Day -- 5/26/09 

1. Milk -Kings of Leon

2. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots -Flaming Lips

3. Chocolate Town -Ween

4. I Know I'm Not Alone -Michael Franti and Spearhead

5. Sweet Virginia -Rolling Stones

6. One Big Holiday -MMJ (strong NED theme contention)

7. Fees So Good -Chuck Mangione Live at the Holiday Bowl

 **Bonus/Filler: Mahna Mahna -Cake

 --Today's playlist comes courtesy of Alex Scalisi in SF! Thanks, AS!

11 May 2009

Seven Songs of the Day 

1. Whatever Gets You Through the Night - John Lennon 
2. The Way We Get By - Spoon
3. Paper Boats - Nada Surf
4. Farewell to the Old Me - Dar Williams
5. Death of a Disco Dancer - The Smiths
6. Sulk - Billy Bragg
7. Takes A lot to Laugh, Takes a Train to Cry - Bob Dylan

Meh-na Meh-na

Live, DF 10

It's been awhile.  All is well, just meh.  I’ve been reluctant to put up a post because I couldn't do so without sounding like a miserable camel.  So much to say, but my head is swimming too much to write coherently.  I've been climbing out of the haze -- slowly -- and should be back this week.  Six more weeks of chemo. Getting there, slowly.  In the meantime...