Tuesday, 30 August 2005

another book style entry

i think today is going to be a good day !!
first of all .. i was NOT greeted by the sight of a dead critter in my kitchen so i can now eat breakfast earlier today .. which means i might be able to get in 4 meals instead of 3 lol
i even managed to get almost 8 hours of sleep with the patch on and without a sleeping pill !!  with the exception of about a half hour where i happened to wander over to Paul's journal to find he had finally posted the 3 meat chili he'd been promising me for years now lol 
thank you Paul xoxoxo

i haven't shared this yet, because i've been nervous about whether or not i could do it, but almost 2 weeks ago i changed my nicotine patch from the 24 mg per day to the 12 mg per day !!  i had actually started 2 weeks longer on the stronger dose, but allowed myself that little oversight since i've been under so much stress .. reducing my nicotine intake actually made me more nervous that quitting smoking

oh, and i almost forgot .. the 12 mg nicotine patches do NOT cause me to have vivid dreams and nightmares !!!!!!

(comliments of onestrangecat !  thank you Kathy!!)
oh and here is a wonderful graphic sent to me by Suzy in celebration of me being 2 months as a nonsmoker (thanks Suzy !! you know i adore Pooh !!)

more about nicotine patches, if i may .. each little half mile or so in my cancer journey, i stumble across something that has forced me to put my vanity aside, or something happens that humbles me, perhaps even embarrasses me .. and i usually shrug afterwards and say "well now !! if THAT wasn't the most embarrassing ..." and get on with my life

i usually try to get through my life without publicly humiliating myself .. i've done it before (usually by complete accident, i did NOT enjoy the experience, so i find it easier just to try to avoid lol)  but i happened acrosssomething that literally wanted me to dig a hole, crawl into it and pull a big rock over it to hide .. in the middle of Longs Drugs i discovered i had to take care of some business that i did NOT want to share with the public .. and there was NO way around it .. here i am, bald (ie waiving my "i've got cancer flag") and i had to fetch a clerk to open the locked display where they keep their nicotine patches .. people glanced my way as i try to gain the clerks attention .. smiling she yells across the counter "what do you need?" .. pointing left, i replied, "its over here" .. as she unlocked and opened the glass display, i grabbed the patches, threw them into my cart and literally raced to checkout

hidden beneath a few books, like i used to do with condoms when i was a teenager, or tampons when i got a bit older .. were my nicotine patches .. hidden why? because even the dimmest of folk wouldn't have a difficult time figuring out that a bald lady buying nicotine patches is being treated for lung cancer
and the fact of the matter is, lung cancer carries a stigma .. it is one of the few cancers that is brought on by the patients inability to refrain from becoming addicted to tobacco

this is not a segue (god, don't you adore that word??!!) to talk about my favorite TV show, House .. its about something Dr Gregory House once said on one of the shows .. "lung cancer is the only cancer where the patients don't die from cancer, but die from guilt."

and PLEASE .. don't give me any "if, ands or buts" .. its a cold hard fact that lung cancer is viewed differently than other cancers by the general public .. for cigarette smokers, it is, to a certain extent, possibly preventable
me, yea, of course i kicked myself in the butt at first, but i also realized that i could be thankful because i wouldn't be one of those sad people who felt victimized, ya know, "why me?" .. i got to skip all that grieving and get on to getting fixed .. and i quit smoking .. and i quit smoking .. and i quit smoking .. something i don't think i could have ever done if i hadn't gotten cancer .. so in its own twisted little way, i learned a big lesson about the importance of taking care of my health and this disease has possibly given me a chance at a longer, healthier life .. and i'm going for it !!

in my usual manner of being able to ..

pardon the interruption here .. i just googled the Serenity Prayer to quote from it correctly, and i just discovered that the prayer that i've "known" for my entire life was a mere portion of the Prayer ..
The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
--Reinhold Niebuhr
anyway, recovering from my shock .. and back to the subject .. needing to find a discrete way of purchasing nicotine patches .. i discovered a website "claiming" to sell clear NicoDerm CQ patches at 1/3 the cost .. i researched the reputation of the company online as best i could to try to make sure its not a scam, satisfied, i ordered 3 boxes of patches .. so basically buy 3 get one free .. i chose 3 day delivery .. IF the patches arrive soon, IF they are not beyond the expiration date, IF the correct amount is charged to my credit card .. i will then and ONLY then, recommend the company (pssst .. and NO, that was NOT an invitation to share horror stories with me about online purchases, thank you very much anyway .. i am praying i just didn't spend $120 on a scam lol)

i'm keeping my fingers crossed cause i only have 2 patches left and will resort to tying myself to the bed (visions of The Exorcist in my head now) for a few days if forced to live without the benefit of my nicotine patch (god, its not like i can go digging through the ashtray for leftover patches)

yesterday afternoon i got a much welcomed visit from my daughter, my ex and my wife in-ex-law .. they brought my truck back from the body shop allfixed !!!  (while our son was home from college for the summer, he had a collision with another vehicle) my ex even paid the deductible from the insurance and told me to "just apply it towards the back child support i owe you"

my ex-husband had fetched me some vanilla Heavy Weight Gainer 900 !!  (i had ordered some online a few days ago, but had to choose the cheaper 5 day delivery .. yesterday, i felt i needed to start NOW on getting fattened up quickly) and he DID offer .. so i accepted .. what i forgot to do, i think was thank him .. ummmm .. and pay him .. sheesh .. i hope he realizes its the chemo-brain, not my bohemian upbringing (wow!  i really do believe i'm getting better, while i have been "losing" words, today i got to use a word that i've never used!! .. "bohemian" .. i hope i didn't insult any good bohemians in the process!)
anyway .. i still can't drive but i may just go sit in my truck today .. if i can get up that high lol
and when i get stronger i'm taking my baby to the car wash .. just cause i can .. i think i've missed my truck (i was going to insert a pic of my truck right after i bought it a few years ago, but i've lost the pictures .. sorry)

so while's (excuse me? while's? where on earth did i get that word? .. oh well, i like it so its staying lol)  we're all outside admiring my newly fixed truck, i noticed the front license plate was missing .. i recalled seeing it in the bed of the truck but i think i moved it inside the cab so it wouldn't get stolen .. so my ex and our daughter were searching inside the cab for the plate .. i'm having a discussion with my ex's wife, Suzan, and my daughter (being her silly self) interrupts us to hand me 2 wrapped condoms she'd discovered in the truck .. at first i had that wide eyed deer in the headlights feeling .. then i calmly stuck the 2 condoms in the fold of my turban .. and told her thanks

"MOM!!! you wouldn't" she yelled .. "i just did" i calmly replied and turned to finish the discussion with Suzan
Suzan had the good graces to chuckle and remind me "don't forget to take them out if you go anywhere" .. to which i replied, "thats not what i'm really worried about since i can't drive and i'm stuckin the house .. i'm really worried i won't remember where i put them when its time to USE them!!"

while i still don't feel like the energizer bunny - i figure i'm at maybe 60% half mast .. i am getting better .. i am a conscious calorie counter now .. i mean serious business .. i need 1,800 calories a day to regain as much of my lost weight as i can .. and i don't care if they are "good" calories or "bad" calories .. they're only sticking around until my next chemo treatment so i just want them for a few weeks before they leave again hehe

so, yesterday i ate 3 pancakes = 240 calories
1/4 cup syrup = 220
Pierre Chicken Breast Sandwich = 280
1 bowl of Tomato Bisque Soup = 180
1 bottle Sunny D = 1702 cups of apple juice = 1204 scoops of powder = 630TOTAL MONDAY CALORIES = 1,840 !!!!!!!
OMG!!!!! .. i did it .. i did it .. 'cuse me whilst i cry a few tears .. i'm gonna be ok .. i'm REALLY gonna be ok .. i can do this !!  jeez .. i'm sitting here bawling like a baby cause i am so happy AND hopeful !!!!!  lol

my friend, Vera and her fiance also stopped by yesterday evening since they're back from vacation .. Vera oh-so-carefully disposed of the dead creature (which turns out was a gopher not a rat .. she had the nerve to look the critter in the face to identify it lol)  while Steven installed the recently delivered blinds that i had ordered for the ones i destroyed in my daughters bedroom (now converted into my home office - can that be an income tax deduction? i currently have NO deductions)
i guess i should mention here that after i discovered the critter lounging on my kitchen rug yesterday morning, i covered it with the largest tupperware bowl i could find and then topped that with a full bottle of bleach, but alas, i couldn't find anyone to rescue me .. so after i calmed down (thank you Ativan) i put together a plan .. first i calculated the routeto both front and back doors .. while the back door was closer .. it would mean transporting the load over two steps and also meant i would be leaving a dead creature in the baking hot sun until i could arrange for transportation to the cemetery .. and i mean it gets HOT in my back yard .. no shade .. so i cleared an escape route to the front door

moving all the furniture, rolling up all rugs in our proposed path, propping open the front door, creating a ramp from a large picture frame at the step down into my living room .. making sure all the cats are locked safely in bedrooms or outside (i felt it wasn't appropriate to have a feline funeral procession, because at this point i really wasn't in the mood)

and we're ready for transport .. i was almost tempted to take a swig of my beloved coconut rum but i abstained and did this completely sober .. i placed one hand on the bleach bottle to make sure the creature remained secure encased under the tupperware bowl, with the other hand, i gently pulled the kitchen rug .. slowly, oh so slowly through my kitchen, through the dining room, down the handicap ramp, through the living room, over the little bumpy threshold at the front door .. outside to my front porch .. and i stepped back and glanced about to see if any neighbors had caught my act of bravery .. gladly, none of them had, because in my planning i had forgotten to add "put on a hat" .. but i was proud of myself for taking care of that god awful situation so i could eat breakfast lol

actually .. it took me several hours before i regained my appetite and felt a safe enough distance from the memory to be able to enter the kitchen again

so i spent 2 1/2 hours on the phone with my mom instead (both Mom and i were having one of those bad days so i think it was worth going over my minutes)

i had an Epiphany (sigh .. i adore that word too!) the other day while having a conversation with my mom

now mind you, combined, my mother and i are not worth a hill of beans .. i mean seriously, we're completely worthless .. i've got my lack of memory, my physical weakness, my other little side-effects from the chemo .. and my mom has diabetes (managed with insulin) and is nearly blind now .. she is also battling her weight gain and has recently changed her diet and beganan exercise routine (go mom!!) .. my mom can also suffer at times from mental confusion .. i think this is one long term effect of attempting to raise 8 children .. come to think of it, perhaps it was the cause of the 8 children .. i mean seriously, who in their right mind ... oh nevermind, i digress

anyway .. there are times my mom and i, depending on our current degree of mental confusion, have completely meaningless conversations .. she can't figure out what i'm talking about .. and i can't figure out what she's talking about .. these conversations are usually started by my confusion, so i ask her for clarification of what she just said, and my questions confuse HER and then i get more confused .. its a wonder we haven't hung up on each other yet lol

and then i realized that my current memory bank is one sentence .. and if a sentence contains what i refer to as "key words", my mind is filled with confusion .. words such as he, she, it, they, them, that, it .. and i completely lose the meaning of the conversation
my mother may tell me ..
"Tom went to the store" (insert end of my memory) and continuing her train of though, wonders aloud .. "I wonder why he did that"

my response: "who?"
my mother: "who what?"me: "did what?"my mother: "who did what?"my mother: "nevermind .. i don't want to talk about this anymore"me: hurt feelings and tears because i know how frustrating it is to try to talk to me sometimes ::big pouting lips::

so are y'all beginning to feel as if i could spend my entire life writing ? ::shrugging:: i could ya know .. really .. there are times that i just sit down and the words just pour out of my brain like they've been rolling around up there for days on end just looking for a way to escape

yesterday i decided its time to attempt to get my ducks lined up for my next chemo treatment in 11 days .. time sure flies when you're having fun eh!
i ended up calling the American Cancer Society who put me in touch with 8 different organizations that mightbe able to help me deal with my situation .. isn't it funny how much easier it is to say "situation" than say "cancer" ::shrugging::

after several phone calls and answering machines, i got through to one company that offers home care services with 24 hours notice for $16.50 per hour at a minimum 4 hour shift .. i have 2 more "fee" agencies to call and 3 volunteer organizations i may call


i made a list of what i consider "necessary things" that i was unable to do for 4 days alone (i think it was 4 days but i DO know i was alone lol) so that if the next 2 treatments hit me like a mack (mac?) truck again, i have an option .. i would like at least one more option and then i can move on to the next item on my list

i will continue making phone calls today and see if i can get one more agency to back me up in case i'm too ill or weak to take care of myself for an extended period

i have a call into my health insurance agent to find out if any of this would be covered by insurance .. which i highly doubt .. i think only "physician prescribed skilled needs care" is covered by my insurance .. but i think i'll get more facts today (he called back yesterday but i guess i don't have call waiting on my home phone and i didn't get the message from AOL Voicemail until nearly 5 pm)

i found a "nonspecific" cancer support group that meets (near my house) on wednesday mornings from 10 - 11:30 and is located right across the street from my oncologists office !!  i don't know if i have enough energy or brain power to drive myself to the meeting .. but the social worker (insert kind, caring) said they talk about whatever is thrown on the table that day .. sometimes tips on dealing with coping .. sometimes a lot of other stuff .. while i am NOT a public speaker and find myself uncomfortable as a stranger in a group .. i am driving myself stark raving mad being home all day alone .. my only respite are my morning calls to my mom and then i kidnap any person who calls me on the phone and i keep them tied up for at least an hour cause i want somebody to talk to .. or i just can't shut up .. i'm not sure

i'm discovering newfound "mini-monkisms" (from the TV show Monk) that i've adopted since becoming extremely aware of germs and how sick they can make me

i had sister Susie buy me latex gloves so i can do things without getting my hands dirty (like opening the kitchen waste can ick)

i had sister Susie purchase disposable hand towels .. i am washing my hands at least 30 - 40 times a day and it was icking me out seriously to keep using the same 2 handtowels (i only have 2)

when a person visiting this weekend exited my bathroom, i (like its any of MY business or polite to do so) inquire "did you wash your hands?" .. oh my god .. that is probably the last time HE will visit me .. i really don't go around asking people about their personal hygiene .. lord forgive me, but i am paranoid about getting sick

and this weekend when my niece Sue-Sue told her son to "give Aunt Pam a high 5" .. ummm .. errrr .. he hesitated giving me enough time to hold my arms protectively to my chest, shake my head "NO!" and exclaim "he's got dirty hands" .. sheesh .. if i coulda crawled quietly under a rug to hide my embarrassment at my behavior .. i would have .. god, where are my manners?????
on that note .. its almost time to call mom (one hour limit, i swear .. i'm watching those minutes Nancy lol)

but in closing, i have a question to those that read my journal .. if you could please be so kind to leave me your thoughts on this .. do those hummingbird lines i use to separate my thoughts make my entires MORE or LESS confusing?
if you say more .. i'll stop using them
if you say less .. i'll keep using them

i just want y'all to be able to wade through this head noise with minimal effort ;-)

hugs and kisses to everyone !!

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