Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Terminal Musings -- Streamlining

A while ago, I applied for assistance from Rebuilding Charles County/Christmas in April to have work done around the house.  They are scheduled to come over this coming Monday (MLK day of service) to start the drywall patching process, and the organize the garage in anticipation of wheelchair ramp improvements.  They, hopefully, will be coming back in the future to do a bit more.

One of the places that needs drywall patching is in my bedroom closet.  So, in anticipation of the work being done, I have been slowly taking everything out of the closet.  We have a portable clothes rack, which is holding just about half of what was in the closet.  The other half has been in the hard-to-access part of the closet since I moved into the bedroom on the main floor of the house.  Instead of buying another portable clothing rack, I think I will systematically go through these pieces.  I haven't worn these things in almost four years; don't think there's much of a chance that I will.  So, I think it's time for the give-away box and the trash bag.  Yes, it will take a bit longer to move these things out of the closet, but I think I can do it by Monday (today's just Wednesday).

As I have been looking at these pieces of clothing that I plan to give away, it made me a bit melancholy.  These pieces of clothing that I chose; I picked them out.  It seems sad to give them away.  You know, it's not even actually the giving away of each of these, it's the streamlining and downsizing that I've found myself doing.  I am acutely aware that I am not long for this earth.  Even if I have many years left, I'm a few weeks shy of my 54th birthday.  My life is at the very least more than half over.  It's past time to stop keeping things that "I might wear one day" (how many times have you heard yourself say that?).  It's time to be realistic -- those items of clothing in the back of my closet aren't going to be worn by me.  It's time they go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill and to someone who will wear them.  Sure, there are things I will keep.  The t-shirts from the Rick Springfield and Paul McCartney concerts.  My Stage IV Stampede t-shirts.  Some other pieces that have special meaning.

I've done this before, with my yarn -- Why I Gave Away My Yarn.  I'm sure I'll do it again, with other things; I've been eyeing a few pairs of earrings that I haven't worn in a very long time.  I guess that's next.

I really can't seem to articulate my feelings about this.  It's kind of like nesting when you're pregnant.  It's the getting ready.  I just don't really like what I'm getting ready for....

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas 2018

It's just after 10:00am on Christmas morning.  Jimmy and I are sitting in the living room watching the Today show relaxing after a long day yesterday, Christmas Eve. We hosted the family Christmas party this year.  Jimmy's brothers and sisters (and their families) gather together on Christmas Eve every year.  Every year, as people get married, have babies, the crowd gets bigger.   We take turns hosting.  We haven't hosted in a few years; other siblings were taking our turn because they didn't feel we were up to it.  They were right, we weren't.  We weren't really up to it this year, either, but I felt compelled anyway.  I don't know, I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I wonder if this will be my last Christmas.  My doctors tell me that I have years left yet, but with a terminal illness, you can't help but wonder.  Anyway, I felt that I needed to host this year.

We started preparing a few weeks ago.  I'm not gonna lie -- my house is never immaculate.  With as slow as Jimmy and I move these days, we needed to get started early.  I found a few recipes online that I tried out -- a bacon ranch cheeseball that was a hit, spinach balls that were not.  I made chicken salad and macaroni tuna salad.  Everybody brought a dish or two to share.  There was tons of food.  Today the refrigerator is full with leftovers.  We have lunch and dinner for the next few days, at least.

We had everything ready to go by 4pm, with about an hour to rest before family started arriving.   The house ended up being so full, we could hardly walk around.   We had our white elephant gift exchange, the children were given their gifts, and everyone ate.  Sounds of laughter filled the house.  At one point, I just sat back in my blue recliner and looked around.  The small groups sitting around, conversations, laughter.  It made my heart so full and happy to see.  At this point I had crossed the over-exhaustion line, but I wasn't ready to go to bed just yet.  Somewhere around 9pm, I think, it was time to get the kiddos home to bed so that Santa could come.  Leftovers were put away, and suddenly the house was quite.  But we weren't done just yet.

Jimmy, Jimmy, David, and I decided to open our gifts to each other before going to bed, instead of waiting for Christmas morning.  The boys don't wake up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning anymore.  So, I climbed into bed and they gathered 'round.  I think everyone was happy with their gifts.  I don't think any of us had trouble falling asleep last night.

This morning, Jimmy and I woke before the boys.  We sat at the table with our bowls of Cap'n Crunch, reminiscing about the party.  We both were happy with how it turned out.  We forgot to turn on the Christmas tree lights, we forgot to turn on Christmas music.  Other than that, we think everyone had a good time.  We sure hope they did, anyway.  We made some good memories last night.  Thank you to the Payne family for that.

Bacon Ranch Cheeseball recipe
Note -- I did not use pepper jack cheese; I substituted cheddar for it.  Also, I did not use pecans.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Day in the (Cancer) Life Revisited -- Routine Oncology Appointment and Treatment

The day started off like any other routine medical day.  A friend was able to drive me to the hospital for my appointments.  That's important because, as my blood pressure has been high when taken at the doctor's office, I'm supposed to take my anti-anxiety med before I leave the house, so that my blood pressure shows normal.  I can't drive when I take it.

We left the house at 8:00am, hit a bit of traffic (not unusual), and pulled up to the hospital at about 9:20 for my 10:00 appointment.  I checked in at the clinic for my appointment with my oncologist, then sat in the waiting room.  I alternated between knitting and closing my eyes.  I was called back to a room just after 10:00.  The wonderful girl who takes my vitals (always has a smile and a hug) apologized for the wait and told me that they were running behind.  Not surprising, and no big deal.  Sometimes they run early, some times right on time, sometimes late.  All depends. I have my knitting and am content to wait.  My oncologist came in to the room at 10:45.  We talked about how things are going, about specific side effects and if they're the same, better, or worse; if I needed any refills on my medications.  Mostly things are about the same.  CT scan and echo are ordered for late January (routine).  I told her about an upcoming metastatic breast cancer symposium being held in DC in February, where a colleague of hers will be speaking.  I asked her about the recent conference in San Antonio that she attended (it's the biggest breast cancer conference in the country).  We chatted a bit.  I gave her a Christmas present.
A while back she had told me that her son (she has little guys) called her Wonder Woman.  So, what did I give her?  A Wonder Woman Wrap.  She loved it!  I'm so glad that she liked it.  Because, you know, she is my Wonder Woman.  She's kept the cancer at bay for over three years now for me.

The girl who checked me out is the twin of the girl who took my vitals.  Again, always with a hug and a smile.

On my way to the infusion center, I stopped at the coffee shop; I was really wanting a white chocolate mocha latte (decaf, of course), but their espresso machine wasn't working.  Small disappointment of the day.  But, it worked out okay because when I got to the infusion center, they had hot chocolate in addition to the usual coffee and tea.  That was a nice treat.

Infusion center was running a bit behind, too.  When I checked in, I had requested Brandy, but the receptionist forgot to put her name on my paper.  Brandy and I usually share stories and pictures about our dogs.  And, she knows the ins and outs of accessing my port.  I never have to worry about it hurting when Brandy accesses it.  So, today I had Christina (first time), and it worked out well.  Didn't hurt a bit, and blood return right away.  Winning!

Another wonderful girl took my vitals in the infusion center, brought me a warm blanket and a pillow.  Mary, their volunteer, brought me a sandwich and juice.  They are all so super nice there.  Christina accessed my port, and hooked up a premed of Zofran (anti-nausea).  The Zofran runs over ten minutes, and then we wait 20 minutes for it to take effect before starting the other meds.  So today, just after 1:00pm, Herceptin was hooked up.  That ran for thirty minutes.  As Christina was switching to Perjeta, another nurse stopped by to say that a volunteer was at the center, asking if anyone wanted to knit.  Um, yes.  😀  So, she came in and sat with me.  I knitted, we talked.  She didn't have a personal project with her; she usually teaches people how to knit.  I told her I'd be back in six weeks; she'll bring her own project and we'll knit together while the meds go in.  It was really nice chatting with her.  She told me how she came to be a volunteer, and how much she loves it.

Just before time was up, I got a text from Jimmy telling me he was here.  Usually he gets there in plenty of time to park and come in and sit a while.  I had texted him when the first med was hooked up (that's when I know I'll be done in about an hour) and he was there right about the time I would be done.  So I texted back asking him if he was parking or waiting for me outside.  Didn't hear back.  Called; he didn't answer.  So, I stopped at the nurse's station on the way out and told Brandy.  I asked her to tell him, if he should come there looking for me, that I was going to the clinic entrance to see if he was there.  She told me to sit right there, and she went outside to look for him.  Found him.  Came back in and walked out with me.  Amazing people.

On the way home, we had to stop and get gas, it was raining, and we had another errand to run.  I slept a bit.  We stopped to get carry out for dinner because we were both too tired to make anything, and finally got home at about 7:30pm.  So, here it is 9:45pm.  Lunch is packed for tomorrow (half of my carry out), meds have been taken, bag is packed for work, and it's a few hours past  my bedtime.

Goodnight, my family and friends.  I hope you enjoyed the peek into the medical side of things.

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