Monday, September 1, 2014

Carrion Discomfort

There's this really fantastic poem I remember reading in college called "Carrion Comfort." What's ironic about the title - and the whole poem, really - is that carrion is a dead animal carcass. And you think, "Carrion comfort? Whaaa?" And that, my friend, is where you can have some fun reading poetry. Poetry can be creepy and cool and ironic and hilarious, as well as all that awe-inspiring crap. Just kidding. I like awe-inspiring poetry, too. Mainly.

So here I lie on my parents' couch, five days PC - Post Chemo. Mom and Micah are at the zoo. Dad is golfing. I'm lying with a heating pad on my legs with my therapy dog - my parents' little Maltese, Molly (whom I call Boatfeet) snuggled comfortably on top of me. So let's tawk.

Chemo. The first appointment was, like, 4 hours long. One hour of Chemo Teaching ("these drugs will kill any particle of cancer you have left, but it will damage your body and your body will spend the following three weeks trying to recover, until we do it again"), and 3 hours of IV.

I chose to have my chemo treatments up in Rexburg. The Idaho Falls office feels more hectic and crazy. I wanted peace and solitude. I do all my labs and stuff in I.F., though.

These nurses really know their stuff, you guys. Like, during the first drug, the nurse had me suck on Popsicles. Something about making my mouth cold to prevent mouth sores. During the third IV, she had me put my finger and thumb tips on a nice pack to help with a numbing feeling that sometimes occurs. She was fantastic.

So total, it was one IV for nausea. A second to boost my white blood cell count. A third for nausea. Then my cocktail of three. The first one is called The Red Dragon. It is absolutely red and makes you pee red. It's nasty. I mean, they're all nasty. The second one is called cyto-something, so Mom and I dubbed it Psychopath. And the third one has -taxi somewhere in it, so we call it Taxidermy.

It didn't hurt at all, because of my handy dandy port, Portia. Those things are genius, guys. I didn't feel burning or stinging, and it wasn't uncomfortable. I even slept through one hour of the treatment!

During the Taxidermy part, my mom and I tried on some hats. We picked a few we liked. It was fun. If any of you out there love to knit or crochet, and want your talents to go toward a good cause, donate your hats to a local chemo clinic or cancer center. The ones I get at the cancer center are from a group called Knots of Love.

First day, my body felt achey, like I had the flu. Days 2-5 have been gastrointestinal fun, exhaustion, and hard core pain from within my bones. I'm told this is from the white blood cell IV, as well as another booster shot to bump up white blood cell count, which leaves a nasty bruise and has you wishing you could cut off your body from the waist down for the next several days. I keep thinking
that, if someone invented a heating pad for your waist to your knees to help with the after-effects of these shots, they'd make millions.  I guess the bone pain will lessen next time. My body will be prepared for it. My body wasn't prepared for it the first time, so it sucked my marrow out of my bones to give me a boost.

Ay carumba.

I've had very little nausea, which is awesome. Things do taste weird. I find myself gravitating toward really strong foods - limeade, pickles, sour cream and chive potato chips... My old standby, coke, does nothing for me anymore. But sparkling grapefruit water tastes awesome, as does cranberry/grapefruit SoBe. The pet loogie I get when I'm pregnant is back. The best thing for me to combat that is by sucking on those Halls lozenges - the sugar-free ones that have citrus flavor.

I did have a shaving party before three pieces of my heart moved to Oregon, which was cray, but not, like, emotionally fraught. I've long had a deep love-hate relationship with my hair, so for me, it was
no big whoop. Hair grows. This I know. I just tried putting pictures on here via the iPad, which isn't working out for me. I'll figure it out eventually.

Being a naturally active person, I cannot STAND being so sedate. It's driving me batty. That's why I titled this post "Carrion Comfort." I'm lying around because I'm in too much pain to walk, and I just feel like I'm a carcass taking up couch space.

Ah well. It's the nature of the beast. A pamphlet at the chemo place put it best - chemo is the bridge you take walking away from cancer and into the future. My CT scan is clean, so, presumably, we got it all. But we don't ever want to deal with it again. So we're zapping it for good measure.

Kay, time to drink something that tastes strange and try to ignore my legs. :)



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tomorrow is St. Crispin's Day.

A few years ago, my dad, sister, and I decided to do the Resolution Run on New Year's Eve. It was a 5K.

It being Idaho, New Year's Eve at midnight was not a super great time to be outside. The wind was absolutely howling. We were either running in ankle-deep snow or on fully frozen ice.

We had to basically run two huge loops. Around once, and around the second time. I had been training, so I was confident and didn't feel horrible about it. I wore proper gear and all.

But that icy wind - dang. That sucked. And it hit us whenever we curved southward. It was blowing so hard, and with the ice, it almost felt like we were trying to climb a sand dune - not a ton of quick pacing during those parts.

Lex and I decided to yell at the wind to get through that challenging part of the race.

"Bring it on, beyotch! You think you can intimidate us with your roaring??" I bellowed.

"We're Idaho Girls, Idiot Wind! Do you really think you can hurt us with your ice blasts?!?" screamed Lex.

"Your wind is like mother's milk to us! We were weaned on it! Ain't nothing you can throw at us that we haven't seen!" I roared.

"We are stronger than you. We are still going to make crazy awesome time. We are gonna kick this race's butt!!" howled Lex.

Dad was with us, but he is more of a stoic runner. Haha!

Anyways, yelling at the wind - challenging the wind - was really empowering. We got through it just fine and now have something cool we can tell our grandkids about. (I can also tell my grandkids that my sister took such good care of their daddy when grandma was sick. That in just two weeks in her care, he started learning to respond when people talked to him. That he learned to share. That he started instigating 3 to 4 word sentences. That a miracle took place because my sister made this sacrifice for me. I'll never forget what you did for me, Lex. Not until the day I die.)

So tonight, on Chemo Eve, I am shouting at my cancer.

Bring it on, you sneaky little bitch.

You think you're going to take me early? Not a chance in hell. I WILL beat you. I will live to watch my kids get married. I will be the coolest grandma on the planet. My kids will be my best friends.

Ben and I are going to grow old together. So you can forget about taking me.

I am a force to be reckoned with. Just because I'm a peacemaker does NOT make me a quitter.

Be gone, I say.

You know who you're dealing with, right? I've been through some hard-core stuff. I wouldn't roll over and take it then. I certainly won't roll over and take it now.

In a year, to quote Iggy Azalea, "I'll have 99 problems, but you won't be one; like, WHAT?" (That's
rapper talk right there.)

This chemo will be horrible, but it's like a sword in this battle.  Chemo and I are going to SLAY you, dragon. And then my hair will grow. And my strength will return. I'll have gorgeous, perky boobs. And I'll be skinny. Rock on.  And I will emerge victorious and triumphant.

One of my favorite speeches in all of Shakespeare's works is the speech Henry V gives before going to battle against the French:

    This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian. 

    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, 

    And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he'll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red. 

    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered- 


Every year, on July 25, I'll remember that, in 2014, I was diagnosed with stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  I'll lift up my shirt and look at my scars - my battle wounds. And I'll remember the feat I will have accomplished - the remission I will have achieved while fighting for my life.  My kids will tell their kids how hard I fought. How I came out champion. And they'll toast me with their cups of coke and yell, "To mom!  To grandma!"

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fy Dollars.

I had a friend in college from New Jersey.  I loved to hear him talk.  He said "water" like "wooder."  And he said "five dollars" like "fy dollars."  It's such a kick to listen to peoples' speech speech patterns.  My brother-in-law is from Montana, and it's a "beg" instead of a "bag."  Their dog, Maggie, is "Meggie." My sis, Lex, really emphasizes the ending -ing sound in her gerunds.  (Helpful hint for you non-grammar nerds out there - a gerund is a word that ends in -ing.  Gerunds are a good way to condense and electrify your sentences.  Just so you know.)

Today was such a good day for me.  I didn't have one doctor's office visit.  No pokes or prods.  I didn't feel nauseated or too tired.  Not even too much pain.  

However, the best, best, best part of the day was purchasing these:
 Eeeeee!!!!  

Those, my friends, are bona fide Coppelias.  What I used to dance in.  When I was a little girl in the springtime.

Back story:  So last night, I was on pinterest, pinning a billion pictures of ballet feet and bodies.  Poses I think I'm capable of doing for my fabulous photo shoot on Tuesday after I teach my littles.  I had to be careful in pinning, because there's a whole heck of a lot I can't do anymore, even if I still had a full range of motion in my left armpit (which I don't).  When I taught my little girls grand jete, way back 1 month BM (Before Mastectomy), my own grand jetes were woefully inadequate.  As were my double pirouettes.  I mean, once I lose 30 pounds and get stronger, hopefully I can fly like I used to.  But for now, I just pinned things that I think I'll be able to do on Tuesday.

And as I was going through these pictures, I was like, "Dang it, I wish I could wear some pointe shoes.  These pictures would be so much more bad-arse if I could have some pictures of me on pointe."  I figured it wasn't to be.  Pointe shoes, back in the early 2000's (the last time I wore them), were like $60.  Who even knows what they are now?  I don't eeeven want to know.  And I don't have that kind of fundage.  I have medical bills to pay, yo.  So I just sighed and pinned a lot of feet that were nicely placed up on the ball of the foot when in eleve.  Or pointed in a cool way.  Out in tendu, or in low arabesque.  That kind of thing.

I also decided that, for my photo shoot, I don't want to wear my running capris and an underarmour shirt, as I usually do when I teach.  I wanted to look legit.  I wanted to look regal.  So I decided to go to a dance wear store.

The only dance wear you can buy in our city is in the foyers of different ballet studios, and I didn't think they'd have enough inventory.  Especially for this extra-large woman.  Yes, I wear an extra large in leotards now.  They're also expensive.  The best thing is to buy online, but I came up with this idea so late in the game that I knew I'd have to pay a ton extra to get anything here on time.

So I headed down to Pocatello to a store with dance wear.  Word on the street is that this shop is where all the I.F. girls have to go to get properly fitted with pointe shoes.  There used to be a place here, but not anymore.  Sigh.  So I thought, kay.  I'm-a go there.  Dylan elected to stay home and play Wii/baby-sit Pep Smear, and Micah and Sadie went with me.

I admired my new bracelet as I drove.  Wanna see it?
My darling sister-in-law sent it to me, along with a warm, fuzzy pink hoodie that says "Fight like a girl!" on it, a cup that says the same thing, a coke cozy that says the same thing, and a cute white winter knit hat with a pink ribbon on it.  The bracelet is in the shape of an angel's wing, and it says, "Be brave."  I love it.  Thanks so much, Kristine.

See, I think I'm just going to have to say my thank-yous via the internet, you guys.  I literally have a list of like a hundred people I need to send thank-you notes to.  It's so overwhelming...  I also have 25 voicemails.  Overwhelmed.  I just can't do it.  I can't check those voicemails.  I'm so sorry if you've left me one.  I'll sit down and do it soon.

Maybe.

So we got there to the dance shop, and the dang place was closed.  Her general open hours are Wednesday evenings.  And then only by appointment on other days.  I called the phone numbers on the door, and one of the gals that works there said she actually had an appointment for a fitting in about an hour and that I could come back then.

So the ninos and I went to our favorite Pocatello sandwich shop and came back.

My initial goal was to get the basics - leotard, tights, skirt.  But it took me some time.  First of all, my left armpit is sore, and my pecs are sore, since they're getting all stretched out over my new boobs, so it just plain old took time.  A lot of wincing and sharp intakes of air.  A few groans.  Also, I really wanted a pretty spaghetti strap leo, but I couldn't get anything in a tank or a spaghetti strap, because the swelling in my left armpit is too apparent.  I also really wanted one of those cute shrug things, but I didn't want to spend too much.  I still have to go out and purchase some scarves for my future baldness, after all.  I also wanted one of those full-bodied knit jumpsuits.  Or booty shorts.  Or cute thigh-high legwarmers.  Or these knit leggins that go all the way to the boobs, and then you fold them down.

For those of you in the know, all of the above make you bad-arse in the ballet world.

But I couldn't hack it.  And it's okay.  If I'm honest with myself, I never, ever worn legwarmers when I danced.  My legs were plenty warm.  And my arms were plenty warm, too, so I really don't need a shrug, either.  I got a short-sleeved leo to cover the armpit swelling.  The skirts are one size fits all, and, um, mine is...snug.  I'm seriously wondering if I'm going to need to wear spanx under my leo so I can actually tie my skirt on. Sad.

So after much contemplating and sighing, I chose my three basics and went up to the front to pay.  I glanced to my left, and there it was.  The five-dollar bin.  Full of pointe shoes.  I thought, Naw.  Pause.  Naw. Glance.  Naw. Stare.

"So each of these pairs of pointe shoes is only five bucks??"

"Yep."

"For realsies?"

"Yeah.  If you can rise in them and feel comfortable in them and they're your size, only five bucks."

I had to try some on, guys.  So I sat there on the floor and tried on all of the beautiful pink toe shoes that hadn't found a mommy to love them yet.  The lady was helping a teenager with a fitting, and she saw me trying the shoes on. 

"What size do you wear?" she asked.

"No idea," I responded.

"You can't remember?"

"Oh, no."

"What kind of shoes did you wear when you danced?"

"Uhhhhhhh.... something that starts with a C?"

"So you didn't dance in Blochs?  Grishkos?  Sanchas?"

"Oh, honey, Blochs were just coming out when I was just finishing up.  I was old school."

She chuckled and turned back to her client.

So I found two pair that actually fit my wide foot.  I didn't have any lamb's wool or anything, but I had to be sure that they felt good.  That I felt comfortable and stable up on that box.  So I shoved them on (if toe shoes fit correctly, they hurt to just stand in.  They feel okay to run on the balls of the shoe or be on the toe, but standing = pain), and I rolled up on those suckers.  One pair felt...meh.  I felt like I wasn't on top of the box. Like it was dragging me back.   But the other pair...clouds were parting.  Choirs were singing.  Right on top and over the box.  Good arch support.  Perfect.  Just perfect.

The lady turned to me.

"Do you have any lamb's wool in there?"

"Naw, not yet."

"How long did you say it's been since you've rolled up on a toe shoe?"

"Um....fifteen years?"

"Damn.  Those shoes are perfect on you."

"And these are only five bucks, right?"

She chuckled.  "You lucked out, lady."

I looked at the insole of the shoe to see what type had fit my foot so well. They're called Coppelia.  And that's when I remembered - I danced in Coppelias!  I thought it was funny and so cool.  Once a Coppelia girl, always a Coppelia girl, I guess. Once you go Coppelia, you never go...hm.  Oooh, ooh, I thought of one:  If it's not Coppelia, it's a failyah.  Badda-BA!  Get it?  A failure?  But you have to say it like you're from Brooklyn.  A failyah.

So I bought my fy dollar shoes and my lamb's wool and my ribbons and my elastics.  I'm going to have to look on YouTube to remember how to properly sew my stuff on.  And I'm going to have to use my mom's sewing machine, because all my sewing stuff is packed.

The lady was like, "Tell me you're not going to try to full-on dance on these?"

"Oh, no.  I don't feel like breaking my ankles."

"Right?  So promise me you'll just roll up on them and make them pretty for pictures.  Next to the barre."

"Oh, I promise.  I'll come back to you when I'm strong enough and skinny enough for good ones."

"It's a deal."

I'm in love with these.  I think I might propose soon.
I might have to sleep with them tonight.


The other day, I was reading one of my pamphlets from the Cancer Support Center in town.  I think it was entitled, "Dealing emotionally with cancer."  It talked about cancer as an opportunity to evaluate your life.  It asked questions of the reader, such as, "What activity makes you light up inside?"  "What is something you always look forward to?"  "What makes you feel like life is worth living?"  "What makes you smile?"  Then it basically said, "As much as you possibly can, do those things.  That's what will get you through.  Even if you can't do these things sometimes or not even at all, look forward to doing these things."

I think that's what will help me fight this battle.  Hope.  I need to look at chemo as just an obstacle.  It's a road I have to cross.  It will take me four months to cross this stupid road.  But then I can grow strong again.  I can grow my hair again.  I can recover.  I can dance again.  And who knows.  Maybe I'll feel good enough to dance sometimes during this whole process.  On those rare good days, go gently work out at the barre and break these shoes in.  Break a sweat.  Feel moments of strength amidst the weakness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prognosis and Game Plan

Sorry for the lack of posting.  Lots of things going on.  We went to the oncologist Tuesday morning.  My prognosis is good.  70-80% survival rate.  There is only a 10% or less chance of the cancer having spread to my other organs.  I had a CT scan today to see if we can find any errant cancer cells anywhere.  I'll let you know the results when I get them.  I had blood drawn this afternoon.  Tomorrow I do an Echo to make sure my heart is healthy before we do chemo.  I have a port put in Monday where my chemo and other things will go in.  It will be near my collarbone.  Here is my treatment:

1.  Chemo once every three weeks for 18 weeks (finishing roughly at Christmas time).  Six times. I'll start losing my hair about 2 weeks after my first session.  Planning to have a shaving party.  You're all invited.  I'll feel good for a couple of days, feel nausea for a few days, feel weak for a week, feel tired for a week, and then feel okay for a few days before doing the cycle again and again and again.

2.  One month of rest, then moving to Oregon to reunite my family.  Can't wait until that day.  Sadie and Dylan are going to Oregon with Ben to start school.  We're keeping Gage with my sister Lex until Christmas.  He's getting so much invidualized help for his autism; I want to do good by him.  I won't be able to help him until I am well and strong.

3.  7 weeks of radiation.  Five times a week, Monday through Friday.  The only side effect is feeling like you have a sunburn.  That feeling happens when you're all done with the 7th week.

4.  One year of Herceptin treatment.  Will be put in through my port in IV form.  Once every three weeks.  No side effects.  Hard to explain this therapy.  Here's a good explanation:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trastuzumab

I'm teaching my ballet class Tuesday.  And then whenever I feel good.  My beautiful photographer friend is going to take pictures of me teaching.  And then she'll take pictures of me dancing. Pictures of my feet.







I start chemo within a few days of that.  After I lose my hair, I'm going to have her take pictures of my bald head, a la: 







I will look beautiful.  I will stand proud and strong and not be ashamed of my hair loss.  I am a warrior.  If I ever feel good enough to teach, she'll also take pictures of me teaching with a scarf on my head.  And then dancing bald. I want to do what makes me happy as often as possible.  And teaching ballet makes me happy.

I've got a little bit of boobs!!

Sorry, you guys.  That was a seriously dirty trick, to write this very, very dark post and then to disappear for a few days.  Yikes.  Bikes.  I didn't mean to.  I really didn't. 

Kay, so.  It's safe to say I moved Dylan's medications to a completely different counter in a completely different area in our kitchen.  Because first I had that high, high, high, and then I cried for like 5 hours, and then I wrote my dark post, and then I was consumed with this really scary, really horrible panic attack.  That's what I think it was.  I described it to my sister, who has had them, and she was like, "Yep."  Whoa.  That was really horrible.  I feel so badly for anyone who has chronic anxiety.  What an awful feeling.  I was really paranoid and really scared about the dumbest crap.  Like, I couldn't sleep, right?  Because, you know, I had accidentally ingested speed.  So I was lying there next to my mom (she spent the night with me, which was so sweet, but then she immediately fell into a deep sleep beside me in bed with her oxygen mask hissing blissfully), and I'm staring at her, like, "Dude!!!!  Now I'm lonelier than ever!  Everyone's asleep!  I'm all alone!"  And then it quickly went to, "What if I never sleep again?  If I can't go to sleep, I can't heal!  And then I'll die!  I'll die because I couldn't sleep!  Bwahahahahaha....."  (That is the crying "bwahaha" and not the laughing "bwahaha."  I was doing some ugly crying at this point.)  And I was pacing all around, and I was just fa-reaking out.

Finally, at 4:30 in the morning, I shoved my mom's shoulder. 

"MOM.  I CAN'T SLEEP.  I CAN'T SLEEP.  I NEED YOUR PINK PILL."

Ahhhh, mom's pink pills.  The Fabled Ones.  My mom has RLS really, really badly.  I feel badly for her.  I mean, I have it and have to take medication for it, but this woman... her legs drive her crazy.  So she has these pink pills that calm the restless legs but also kind of knock her out.  We've all learned to accept the fact that, at 9 p.m., she's either standing and shuffling and kneading at her legs, or she has passed out in the middle of the movie in the theater.  I feel badly for her.  I really do.  Restless legs is AWFUL.

So anywho, once, my parents and Ben and I went out to New York to visit Beads.  And my restless legs were just off the charts.  And Mom is like, "Do you want to take half of my pink pill?" because my RLS pills were packed.  And I was so desperate for my legs to be calm that I was like, "Well, Nancy Reagan says not to do drugs, but...okay.  I'll try it just once.  To be cool." 

You guys probably think I'm a total drug abuser.  I'm not.  I just...needed not to be doing a tap dance on the ceiling above my seat while my head and upper body were on the chair.  Because that is what happens in the car on long drives when my legs go crazy.  So I took Mom's half of a pill, and dude, it made me sick as a dog.  I barfed for like 6 hours in the airplane toilet.  It was horrifying.  Awful.  Awful. 

Mom's pink pills are so famed for their potency that, when my grandpa was dying, and hospice hadn't kicked in yet - we had to wait 24 hours - he begged her for her pink pills so he could sleep.  And she gave them to him.  And he slept peacefully.  Those pink pills carried my grandpa home.

So at 4:30 in the morning, crazy Drug Addict Kar was asking her mom for a pink pill.  She gave me half.  We waited an hour.  Nothing changed.  I was still darting my eyes around.  Running to the bathroom every five seconds because I swear I had to pee.  Crying.  Breathing heavily.  Hot, then cold, then hot, then cold.  So after that hour, I took the other half.  Another hour.  Nothing changed.  It was 6:30.  Mom suggested we go on a walk.  I cried the whole time.  Breathed heavily the whole time.  My brow was furrowed the whole time.  I felt this weird impending sense of doom.  When we got home, I called some good friends in the ward, and they called their husbands over to give me a blessing.  I felt so stupid.  And nauseated.  I was dry heaving a bunch from the stupid pink pills.  I am never touching those things again.  They couldn't even put me to sleep!

I've got to admit, I was yelling at Heavenly Father inside my head when mom was clutching my hand and I was trying so hard to calm my breathing.  "DUDE!  CAN YOU THROW ME A FREAKIN' BONE HERE??  THESE PILLS COULD MAKE A DYING MAN SLEEP, AND THEY CAN'T EVEN HELP A GIRL WITH CANCER SLEEP?  COME ONNNNNN!"

We were in a fight.  And I felt guilty.  I've tried never to be mad at him, but I was really, really pissed.  I felt betrayed.

Finally, I fell asleep for about two hours.  When I woke up, the anxiety was still there.  This ADHD stuff was still in me.  My mom had taken my kids to her house, and I was in the house, all alone.  By myself.  I was terrified. 

My dear friend Cathy called me right then and saved me.  She told me some really great, very sacred stories that helped put things into perspective.  She gave me some good ideas to help exterminate the negativity and gloom that had settled on me.  Her mom died a few years ago of cancer and she nursed her mom through the whole thing.  So she knows a thing or two.  She is a spiritual giant and my spiritual sister.  Her perspective and her words helped me more than she will ever know.  Thank you, Cath.

I felt the anxiety slip away. 

But the high was still a little bit there. 

I went and got a medication my psychiatrist had called in which should boost my anti-depressants a little bit and also help sedate a little bit at bedtime.  Under my current circumstances, I need a little more than I've had.  A whole s-load of stuff has happened to me in a really short amount of time, and I need to be able to cope.  Then  Mom and I went to my plastic surgeon to get the cursed blood grenades out.  I was being such a butthead to him.  He took it like a champ.  He was whining about having pulled a hamstring, and I was like, "Wow.  That really sucks.  I can't imagine how it must feel to have a hamstring hurt.  That must be really hard for you."  And then I clapped my hand over my mouth with wide eyes.  "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry."  He chuckled and said he was fine.  I explained the ADHD situation, and he got a good laugh out of that.  After I reminded him that I would CUT him if he didn't pull my grenade hoses out gently, he did so.  He did a very good job.  And then he examined my mutilated chest and said, "Okay, let's start filling you up!"

"Wait.  What????"

"You're healing so well, it's time to give you some boobs again!"

I couldn't believe my ears!  I had no idea! 

I was soooo scared when I saw all those huge vials full of...whatever they're full of.  The inserts that I have are only temporary. They're meant to help my skin stretch. This is what's inside me right now.
When we're to the desired size, they'll take the stretchers out and put the real...boob implant thingeys...in.  I was like, "Ummmmmm, please tell me you'll, like, numb the area before you put that huge needle into my chest."  I was having visions from Pulp Fiction dance through my head - the whole, Uma-Thurman-has- overdosed-and-you-need-to-shoot-this-adrenaline-right-into-her-heart thing. 
 Yes, I went through a rated R phase in college. I have since repented.  And I've been off rated R movies for... maybe 12 years or so?  Thank you, thank you.  [Insert deep, lovely, ballet curtsy here.]

And he's like, "Oh, you're not going to feel this.  Can you feel me do this?" and he flicked my chest. (He had every right to do so.  I mean, first of all, he was flicking my exoskeleton.  Second of all, there is no indignity I haven't faced in having children and having my girl parts taken out and having my boobs cut off.  Someone could cut off my head, and I'd be like, "Yep."  Plus, he had a right to flick me because I had threatened to cut him and told him that his jokes were really dumb and had mocked his pulled hamstring.  In addition, I know his little sister really well.  So I wasn't offended.)

"Oh.  No."

"Yeah, you're not going to have any feeling in this general area again.  I can put this needle right in there and you won't feel a thing."  And he did.

That's trippy.

So he filled me up slowly and carefully.  I felt scared, so I held my mom's hand and sang "Baby I'm Amazed" with her.  Because it was still in my head.

And slowly, gently, the high from the ADHD - the horrible, awful, no good, very bad high - slipped away.  It was replaced with a profound exhaustion.  My eyes were rolling around in my head.  I was so, so tired.  And so, so grateful to have that horrible crap out of my system. 

He told me not to take a nap.  To let my circadian cycle reset itself.  I made some dumb joke about cicadas and their life cycles.  He said that if I couldn't sleep again, to call him.

Later that evening, I was showing my friend Monica my new boobs (they're like a B-minus.  I'm thinking of going for a C-minus or a solid C.  Not sure.  Still thinking) - with my shirt over them, of course, and Micah walked over, head cocked to one side, examining my chest.

"Mom!!" he exclaimed, "Look at your boobs!  You got new boobs!  I'm so happy for you!!  I love them!  You look so pretty!  And skinny, too!"

I love that kid.

Somehow, I managed to make it to 9 that night before sleeping all night long.   Like a log.  It was awesome.

My boobs hurt a little bit, but they're quite, um, perky.  I have to sleep with ice on them and all that.  I have to keep wound dressing on the holes where my tubes for my grenades tortured me for three weeks.  I still have special tape on my stitches from the mastectomy.  They are hard as ROCKS.  Those hard port things on them are right on top.  I hugged my sister last night, and she said, "Ouch."  My mom hugged me and then copped a feelsky.  She was curious as to how they felt.

My dad was all, "Cheriiii...."  But I wasn't offended.  Like I said, no indignity is too much for this messed up body.  I might as well walk around naked.

So, the plan is to fill 'er up again, just a tiny bit, in a couple of weeks, and then that part is done.  At some point they'll put the real implant in.  I don't know if I'm going to even worry about getting n-words.  I'm just...so over surgery stuff.  We'll see if I change my mind, but right now, I have bigger fish to fry. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

You get what you ask for.

Kay, seriously, I need to stop blogging at night. Night is the enemy. Night is the dark time. You are all alone, even if your Mom is sleeping in the same bed as you. Everyone is in blissful sleeping land and you, the girl with cancer, the one who needs desperately to sleep, are wide awake.

Not sure if it's the after-effects of accidentally getting high yesterday or what, but I tried Tylenol PM. I did that doTerra oil on my feet. I took a bath. Then another bath. Wrote a letter the size of a novel to my friend. Nothing seems to be doing the trick.  I had the worst insomnia when I was in college. I would cry and plead with Heavenly Father to let me rest. My brain just would not stop moving. When I had kids and started falling asleep as soon as I hit the pillow, I was so grateful, in a way, that I was able to fall asleep. This staying up all night business is not terribly fun. I really should read my scriptures, but Ben moved them somewhere when we were showing the house. Maybe I should read them on LDS.org. But I have a weird thing with electronic reading. It makes me intensely uncomfortable. It's like I can't connect with a book unless I can hold it physically in my hands.

I've got a lot of quirks. Have you noticed?

So. Robin Williams. When he died, and also when my friend Frank died, not once - not ONCE - did I go, "Oh, he is so selfish." That is the most ignorant thing to say. You know what I said when I found out about each if them?

"I know how they feel."

Don't freak out. Please.

It's a hard thing to describe depression to people who don't have it. But I've been fighting that dude
my whole life, and he is a killer.  I'm way more intimate with Mr. Depression than I would like to be.

Obvi, depression is different for everyone. In my case, I had two main difficulties. 1) Anger. 2) I had this deep longing to be dead.

Don't freak out. Stay with me here. It will get better.

I never, ever made plans to kill myself. I never tried to kill myself. I was lucky I never got to that point. But there have been many, many times in my life that I wanted Heavenly Father to take me away.

"It's too hard, Father. It's too hard. Take me away."

I also had this weird desire to be underground. I wanted to be under the earth. Hidden from any view
while I grappled with this. I would bury myself deep within my bed. Completely covered. Hidden. I would put ear plugs in my ears and pretend I was peacefully sleeping under the ground.

I know it's weird. But it was how I felt.

Somehow, I was able to reach out for help, amidst the fuzzy cloudiness of my mental pain. And I got help. Real, good, specific psychiatrist help.

My meds are what hold me together.  When my grandma died, I didn't shed a tear. And I loved her.
"Wow, Kar," my dad said in admiration.  You are a ROCK."

"Oh no. No, no, no. It's my meds."

But it's not like I'm a zombie. Sure I didn't cry very much anymore, but my meds made me feel like
myself. It was like my real personality was trapped in this big ball of despair.  Now (with the notable exception of the past week), I can feel sad. Happy. Ecstatic. Angry. It's just that the ebbs are like valleys and foothills instead of ravines and...less deep ravines? Haha! My meds have saved my sanity. Therefore, they have saved my family.

Depression is like thyroid disease. No amount of scripture reading, praying, excercising, or eating healthy will rid you of thyroid disease.  Same with depression.  Some things will help for a little while.  Excercizing gives me an endorphin boost, which is why I do it ALL the time. But if your depression takes you to a place as dark as I have been, the only way out, at least for me, was clinical, medicinal help. You wouldn't tell someone who was born without an arm that if they just ate right and excercized, they could regrow an arm. It's so utterly ridiculous when people make obtuse statements like that to me.

Until you have experienced it, you have NO idea how horrifying it is. How debilitating. It will bring you to your knees.

What I feel toward people who have attempted or completed suicide is nothing but compassion. Because I've been to that dark place, and it is sheer hell. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I know that helpless feeling. I know what it's like to beg for death.

I can't help but wonder sometimes if I got cancer because I wished for death. Like I brought it on myself. I regret having thought those thoughts and said those words, but I was not in my right mind. I feel like this whole thing is my fault. I asked for something I didn't truly want. And now I'm staring death in the face. I mean, my chances are good - 72% survival rate for stage 3b breast cancer. Plus I'm young, active, etc. But I don't know. Part of me wonders if I summoned the reaper.

I'm starting to feel myself slip into that dark place once more, so I'm getting help from my psychiatrist soon.  I have an appointment this week.

Robin, you don't know me. But you were an extraordinary talent. I have zero judgment to mete out. I've been where you were. You feel like you're being tortured. You had to escape. I hope that you can actually truly rest in peace.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I was high at church today. Not on purpose.

OMG.  I think my brain is seriously getting overloaded.  Just so you know, voicemail is NOT the way to go if you want to reach me, aight?  Text.  Texting all the way.  If I haven't called you back, I am so sorry.  It's just that there are like 50 voice mails, and I get so overwhelmed and can't deal with it.  But at the same time I feel the need to be surrounded by people.  So just come over.  Or just text me.  And I'm so sorry.

So dude.  This morning, I was all, "Dylan, come upstairs and take your pills!"  His ADHD pills.  And then I took out my two extra strength Tylenols, or as we like to call it around here, "I might as well take air" pills.  And of course Dyl didn't come up, so I was like, "Dylan!!" and I got out two capri suns, one for him and one for me.  P.S. Having cancer makes me not give a damn about what I eat.  If I can grab it, I'm good.  If I have to cook it, fugeddaboutit.  I used to avoid processed foods like the plague, but now, I'm just so emotionally exhausted, it's all I can do to make Kraft Mac and Cheese for the ninos.  And then eat a bowl myself.  Just because it seems like the thing to do.  No appetite.  I always wished my clinical depression was the one where I lost my appetite. That hasn't ever been the case until the last week or so.  Don't want to eat.  Have to force myself to when I feel hunger.  I do make sure to feed my kids, but...I don't know.  I might need to move in with my parents sooner than later.  I'm in a pretty dark place.  When my kids fight, I just kind of glance their way and then turn away.

Sorry.  Upbeat.  Trying to keep this upbeat.  So I got our capri suns out, and I was distracted, because my mind is a jumble of a million things right now, and I popped my Tylenols and sipped them down, and I realized that I took the ADHD pills and not the Tylenol.  I texted my nursey-sciencey sisters and was like, "Should I make myself barf??"  They both were like, "Dude, they're long dissolved by now.  You're going to be really hyper." 

And boy howdy.  I felt like a million BUCKS.  I was singing "Baby I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney and getting everyone ready for church.  And I felt ZERO pain.  ZERO.  I felt invincible!!  I was happy and funny and oh so witty and had so much ENERGY!  I haven't had this much energy since I was 20!  I felt euphoric!  I was like, "Damn."  I can see why people can get addicted to the stimulants.  I've seen the narcotics, and I've now seen the stimulants.

Yet, through the hyper happiness, I knew it wasn't real, and I knew I hadn't eaten, and I was vaguely aware of that, but was too busy GETTING STUFF DONE to eat...  I decided to take us to church. 

I tried to really keep it toned down, and I'm reeeeally not sure I accomplished that.  I feel like maybe I made like 20 comments in church??  Just so.  obnoxious.  And I was writing all this stuff down.  And I was like, "These are such deep thoughts I'm having.  I'll bet nobody has ever had these deep thoughts about the gospel before.  The cosmos are all coming together.  I'm seeing the great and divine plan.  Ommmmmmm....."  It was cray.  I really usually always feel the spirit in church, but it's a calm peaceful feeling.  This was like a little tornado happening on my chair.  I wasn't a person.  I was a tornado.  A note-taking tornado.

And dude, it lasted FOREVER.  I hoped it would get out of me by noon.  Nope.  Not until 4 p.m.  And, as we all know what happens after a high, we CRASH.  And I did.  I've been crying for about 5 hours straight.  My mom is coming over to sleep tonight.  Because nights are...terrifying to me.  I cry and cry myself to sleep.  Every night.  It's exhausting. 

I have an appointment with my favorite psychiatrist.  I'll talk to him about our options.  Obviously, I'm in need of a little anti-depressant tweaking right now.  After this is all over and I have my family with me again, perhaps I can come back down on dosage, but what I got ain't cutting it. 

I think it's safe to say that reality has hit.  HARD. 

And that I'm going to be really careful from here on out.  I hate feeling out of control.  Ugh.  I'd rather sit here bawling than have my hands shaking and talking so fast that my kids can't understand me.  That wasn't me.  And crying all day isn't usually me, either.  I'm trapped in here, guys.  I'm trying really hard to fight my way out.  Be patient.  Maybe if my mental state is more stable, then I can handle this better.

Sorry for the Debbie Downerness of this.

And sorry if your name is Debbie and that phrase offends you.
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