Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the Journey VII...

I am now bald.

But you know, it's OK. At some point in the last couple of days, I came to realise that I actually preferred being bald to the annoyance of hair drifting everywhere and my scalp itching.

I gathered with friends, we shared wine and cheese and party mix, and Stylist gradually shaved off my hair.

He was wonderful about it! He clipped my hair into various styles, each time taking some more hair, until I had a Mohawk (note to self: NEVER get a Mohawk), complete with hairspray to stiffen it up! I looked like Foghorn Leghorn, to be honest. And then one more swipe of the clippers and it was all gone.

Then we tried on all the hats, scarves, etc. that I have been gifted with by generous, loving friends. My favourite black velvet bucket with a satin rose; a black beret (both from Strong Heart); a tube scarf (it can be converted into a dozen shapes and ways of wearing it); a green corduroy newsboy-style; and a matching soft scarf.

Afterwards, two of my friends took me out for an Indian dinner--since I have another treatment next week, I won't be able to have spicy food for a couple weeks, and I love the stuff. Mmm, butter chicken, naam, marsala tea--yum.

Since I've taken the plunge, I figured I might as well go out and about--I'll be going to a friend's party tonight, in spite of my stubble. First trip in public--well, besides the Indian restaurant last night, but we were the only ones there, so it was only the waitress...and I was wearing a hat. I'll be interested to see people's reactions!

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Journey VI...

I felt well until Sunday the 9th, when I crashed and crashed hard. I made myself go to church, however, as we had a budget meeting. My wonderful deacon led service, however!

I didn't feel myself again until Wednesday the 12th. Tired, headaches, no appetite, etc. And then almost overnight, I felt so much better. Still fatigued, but able to eat and sleep again.

Saturday the 15th was Strong Heart's ordination. What a wonderful service that was! So many people there to support her and celebrate with her, members of the several congregations who have come to know her over the years, the mentors and fellow-students, the friends and congregation members... the spirit of love and celebration and joy filled the space and lifted us all.

The photograph of her in her full vestments (chausable even!) with her ordination certificate is one I will always cherish--she is glowing and radiant, full of joy and pride and the Spirit.

I managed to pace myself through that day--I did not jump up to help or find things, I did not circulate at the reception. I made myself sit quietly and rest, knowing that people who really wanted to talk to me would seek me out--and they did.

Sunday was my congregation's annual meeting. We're hanging in there, for the time being. But it was emotional and difficult. on top of an emotional day the day before.

And this week I have felt mostly back to normal. Appetite back, no headaches, mouth not so dry.

However....yesterday my hair began falling out. And today it's worse. I have my Sinead O'Connor party on Friday for a clipping. Several friends will be there to support me, hold my hands if needed, while Stylist trims me close.

I think the hair falling gently all over the vanity this morning really brought it all home. It's real. this is not a bad dream, this is not something I am overdramatising. And it's not something I can skate through--I am not Ali McGraw in Love Story miraculously looking lovely all the way through treatment.

Reality sucks.

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, November 07, 2008

On the Journey V

Continuing to feel good. I know that over time this may well change--the body can fight off a one or two time dousing of poison (which is what chemotherapy is, after all) but after a while it gets tired. But so far so good!

Slept very well last night, which is a relief after the couple previous nights! My appetite is doing odd things...the vegetable lasagna I had loved over the weekend and saved myself a bit of for lunch yesterday turned my stomach when I even looked at it yesterday...maybe the tomatoes? So I'm doing the bland thing--pudding, tuna, crackers, applesauce, cottage cheese, etc.

But otherwise no complaints. I'm working my semi-secular job today (which I had better get to) and then perhaps to a friend's band's gig tonight. Have to see how I feel, but I'm pretty much free tomorrow and no sermon to write (house church on Sunday).

I'll keep you posted!

Friday Five--Comics!

The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five is for yuks today! Good idea, Presby Gal!

Here’s my play:

1. What was your favourite comic strip as a child?
Peanuts, hands down. I realise in retrospect that I didn’t always understand all the nuances of the jokes, but that’s part of the genius of good comedy (whether an essay, an animated movie or comic strip)—being able communicate on several levels at once.

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
For Better or Worse. L love the Canadian setting, the way the characters grow and change and deal with real issues that most folks face. It’s written honestly—bad things do happen to good people and not all the endings are happy, but things do work out. She’s dealt with the widely diverse topics of child abuse, small business ownership, censorship, gay teens, Alzheimers, and pet loss without (in my opinion) a miss-step.
It’s not that it’s funny, so much, as that it reflects my reality in many ways, in ways that help me deal with the reality.
Funny? Doonesbury, absolutely.

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?
Probably Snoopy; living in a world of my own imagination, looking for the food bowl to be filled, trying to write the Great American Novel...

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
I think so, for the best of them . Here you have folks thinking about the world as it is, and trying to sum up the current situation of the day in four panels of line drawings. What else can they do but philosophise?

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples?
It must be familiarity. I haven’t read Dennis in years, but I know that FC has tried to update a bit with minivans and cell phones, but the humour is still 70’s…if not 60’s. Same with Gasoline Alley, Blondie, etc.

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?
Bloom County. I loved the original, when it first started way back when—it was still good when he came back from sabbatical, but didn’t have quite the same edginess and he had dropped some of the characters I liked most.

Bonus bonus:
My favourite strip not widely known?
Liberty Meadows, by Frank Cho. He started at University of Maryland (one of my many alma maters) drawing for the student paper The Diamondback (the school mascot is the terrapin turtle, AKA diamondback). Many of his strips have insider references to the campus, the town, town establishments, etc. It’s based on the lives of animals at a sanctuary, run by a veterinarian, Frank, who has a mad crush on the counsellor, Brandy, a long-suffering caretaker, a bullfrog, a randy pig, a dachshund, a duck, and a creature of an unknown species (groundhog? Gopher? Weasel?). Slightly off-center humour, great art, just all-around fun. Find it here .

Thanks again, Presby Gal!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On the Journey, IV...etc.

Wow, lots to blog about.

First, I was not accepted into the clinical trial. The central lab that re-tests all the tissue samples says that my cancer is estrogen receptor positive, so I am not eligible for the triple-negative trial. My oncologist says I am borderline (you just knew these things weren't clear-cut, didn't you?) and I am more to the negative side than the positive. He's asked the cancer centre pathologist to look at my samples again, but he thinks it's still negative, and we'v decided to proceed on that assumption.

He also told me all my heart test results came back in the excellent range! Apparently my heart is functioning as well as that of an athlete--and he wasn't being ironic! I have no idea how it got to that state--as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am pretty far from an athlete! Wow...three exclamation points in one paragraph--time to move on.

So today was my first chemotherapy session. It went well. I got there way too early--anxiety makes you do odd things--but they took me in right away anyway. They gave me steroids to fight nausea (along with a couple of other meds to do the same thing), and the 'roids are making me a bit hyper (see exclamation points above!). The first med was given IV, and slowly (since it was my first time). The second and third meds were given via injection in the IV line. My port looks good, and the nurse changed the dressing for me. I can't get the stitches out until Friday, but they look fine too. And as usual, the staff were amazing! Caring, expert, funny, even. And Butterfly Nurse (who was my nurse today) liked my tat...

Strong Heart was with me the entire time, we prayed beforehand, she held my hand at the ouchy parts, she talked to me, made me laugh, and took me to Windy's for lunch after (possibly a dumb idea, but I had a craving for a cheezburger). Last night when she arrived home, I was crying--before she even said hello, she asked what was wrong. It was nerves and over-thinking things--but she listened, she calmed me. Strong Heart continues to be a blessing to me.

So far, no nausea, no headaches or funny tastes or any of that (just red pee, as I was warned, from one of the meds...sorry if that's TMI). Of course, it's the first time, but this bodes well. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

And one of the best things about today was the election results! Not only the national ones (my greatest relief and hope), but two statewide initiatives where Strong Heart lives too. Medical marijuana and stem cell research...both hot button issues, and some complex ethical questions in the latter case.

So now I'm feeling a bit wired still, but tired at the same time, if that makes sense. I'm off to bed with a cup of hot tea, my iPod and a good book (The Battle for God, by Karen Armstrong, about fundamentalism in Judaism, Islam and Chrsitianity--great reading, folks, and highly reccomended).
All in all, as Tony would say, "I'm greeeaat!"
I'll keep you posted....

Saturday, November 01, 2008

On the Journey....III

The whole thing is becoming more concrete.

Thursday I had a port (stent/cath/shunt) placed, so that I don't have to get a needle everytime I get chemo. It's about the size of a quarter (although it feels much larger), with a tube running to a large vein in my neck. It just makes the whole process of chemotherapy easier for me and the staff sdministering it. They can also draw blood through it. As I apparently have "small veins" (which means "difficult to stick") minimizing the number of needle sticks is important!

I was back at work yesterday, although I did not stir out of the house last night. There were several events I wanted to attend. Band Named After a Household Appliance had a gig, there were two art shows opening, and of course the usual Halloween fun. I thought of last year when Man About Town and I went to a local bar and watched the people in costume going into the local "young people's bar" and picking our favourite costumes--I liked the light-up Christmas tree. That was also the night Man About Town was asked by a stranger if the stranger could ask me to dance...MAT was not only not my partner, but gay. He told the stranger, "You'll have to ask her!" We still chuckle about that one...

Anyway, next week--yeah. Monday I meet with the nurse running the clnical trial, then my oncologist, to be sure everything's on track for Wednesday. Then Tuesday morning I meet with a possible spiritual director. Tuesday night Strong Heart comes over, and Wednesday afternoon is my first round of chemo.

There's an election in there somewhere too...

Seriously, I have already voted by absentee ballot, and while I am working on Tuesday night, I will have one of the election sites up on the work computer. I doubt we'll stay up late waiting for the results, but I do plan to watch for a while after I get home (c.8:30). Not many results until then anyway.

For my US readers--have you or will you vote? This election feels critical to me. We all need to take advantage of our ability to make our wishes and opinion known--so vote!

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...