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Archive for May, 2008

The lightening bolt

The lightening bolt went up about a week or so ago. Now we have to finish the doggie butt hooks.

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I finally took a photograph of the finished still life. Not a perfect shot (it’s a little washed out in the upper left hand corner), I took it outside on the ground of the patio early yesterday morning and the flash kept wanting to go off and I was too tired to remember I could make the flash not go off. Right now the painting is at my teacher’s studio as she’s part of a Studio Open House tour in her building (all artist studios).

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I got the results of the blood tests my internist ran last Thursday (on Memorial Day, I think my dr. works too hard). Mostly good. The best part is my A1c (the test that tells you what your blood sugars have been over the past three months) was NORMAL! This means all the changes (which have not always been easy) I have made in my diet have been worth it.

My glom filt rate (something to do with my kidneys) was still a bit below normal but all my other kidney function tests were fine. So no one seems to be worried about it right now. I figure between all the ibuprofen I take, the chemo I have had, etc. my kidneys are working a bit hard. I suspect that it might become an issue whenever I have to do chemo, particularly if I do any of the chemo drugs that stress the kidneys (I’m pretty sure one or two of the ones they are considering if I have to go back on chemo does). Right now I am not going to worry about it.

I had my cholesterol checked also, which has not been done in many years. My HDL’s were a bit low (they always are no matter what I do, same as my father so it’s probably genetic), my LDL’s a bit high (but not horribly so) and my total cholesterol and triglycerides were normal. My internist said that using some complicated set of calculations which takes into consideration my whole health profile that my risk of heart attack in the next 10 years was 2% (and when I’ve used the calculators they have on the internet, likely not as accurate as his, I get even less). In other words, another thing not to worry about.

I also had a Pneumovax shot (for particular strains of pneumonia), one of those things we always think of when I’m doing chemo but never before, so now that I am not in treatment but could possibly be in the near future it seemed a good time. Well, sheesh, did I have a reaction to that shot or what? I was fine on Thursday and on Friday my arm started to hurt and a small red spot below the injection formed on my arm. By Saturday the spot was about 2 inches around, hard, red and hot, and I could barely lift my arm it was so sore. I took an antihistamine and extra ibuprofen and got through that day. Sunday the red spot was bigger but the pain was a bit less. Today is a full week from the shot and while it doesn’t hurt anymore, there is still a large mark on my skin. Not red, but a definite discoloration. Crazy!

My anxiety is starting to ramp up for the upcoming ct-scan in a couple of weeks. I am desperate for it to continue to be stable, I so don’t want to spend my summer (and beyond) doing chemo. My back has already started kicking into a higher gear of pain, and I’m definitely getting tense. I have a lot of things going on the next few weeks to help distract me, but it doesn’t really change the underlying anxiety.

I have one more week of my painting class. I have come a long way on this painting but I still don’t think I will be finished with it by the end of my class next week. I wonder if I’ll work on it on my own this summer, somehow I think not, but maybe I’ll surprise myself.

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I’m back from my internist appt. this morning, which was probably a month or so overdue, but not a big deal. I’ve been tracking my blood sugars and blood pressure readings since January. I put them in an Excel spreadsheet last night and got averages. The blood sugar average was 116, not great, but not horrible (considering the Megace I am on raises them). He was fine with that. The blood pressure readings are averaging 126/78 for the entire time, but the last month they have been going up and are averaging 135/83. He’s still fine with those though. My bp at the office with the nurse was 130/90 and then later he took it and it was sky high. He said I really do have white coat hypertension and was going to put that down in my file. I told him he didn’t want to know what my readings were at the oncologists office. He said if they give me a hard time to just show them my spreadsheets 🙂

So we talked about my struggles with trying to be healthy and control these things and also wanting to enjoy my life. The reality is I am not going to live to be 85, so I don’t need the same level of control that a normal healthy person would. His suggestion is I do what I can live with, and if that puts things into a higher range then we can talk about medications to deal with it, but that he doesn’t want me stressing over this (which I have been, big time). I’m going to go in for bloodwork tomorrow (I wasn’t fasting today) and we’ll see what’s up. My biggest concern is my kidney function which wasn’t so good last time. I think it’s all revolving around my ibuprofen use for my back pain. It raises my blood pressure (as does the back pain itself) and it can affect kidney function also (as does the bp, and it’s also possible that the chemos that I have done have done some damage, particularly the cisplatin and carboplatin). I generally only take 3 otc pills a day, but I’ve been taking them every day for a long time (since the fall of 2006). But there are not very good alternatives, you start getting into narcotics which have a whole bunch of other issues. He did mention one drug, I can’t remember the name, which wasn’t quite a narcotic, but it did make most people fuzzy headed. So hopefully the kidney stuff is okay so I can just keep taking the ibuprofen. He’s going to do my cholesterol, since it hasn’t been done in years, but again, it’s not likely we’ll do anything about it if it’s not great.

Sigh, this has been a real struggle for me. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I have the propensity for two genetic diseases (diabetes/pre-diabetes & hypertension) that are being exacerbated by the medications I am taking (Megace and ibuprofen) and the pain and stress in my life. This isn’t easy for me, I get into the perfectionist mode, thinking that these are things that I should be able to control (or prevent in the first place) and that it is a failing on my part when I can’t. I don’t think it helps that the medical world and society blames us overweight people for all of our health problems and if we just had better self control we wouldn’t be in this situation. I read an article recently that helped me a bit. In it an endocrinologist told a woman who was doing the same kind of thing that I do (blaming herself) that the reality was that she had a genetic disease. Maybe she could have put it off a few years, but she was still going to get it. If someone does not have the genetic predisposition they could be obese for years and never get diabetes. Someone with the genetic predisposition could be just a bit overweight and get it. It’s just the luck of the genes. She also talked about the 80/20 rule, keep tight control 80% of the time and enjoy yourself the other 20%. Sounds good in theory, but I am also dealing with my lifelong emotional eating issues on top of all this. I probably have a better diet than most people, regardless of size, but when I am stressed (which is all too often these days) I think that a steady diet of cake and ice cream would be a good thing (I don’t do it, but I really want to! Instead I often find myself “eating around” the food I want, by eating too much of the healthier foods). I need to find a way to have my cake and eat it too so to speak. A life without cake is just not a good one, but a steady diet of it is too much.

In other health news I had my 6 month repeat mammogram last Friday on my right breast (back in November something abnormal showed up). The radiologist said it was fine, they couldn’t even see anything this time, so I’m back to my normal screening mammograms in 6 months. I scheduled my ct scan for June 11th (and see my med onc and my gyn onc the following week) to see whether the Megace continues to hold the tumor stable or whether I’ll be needing to start chemo this summer. I’ve increased my acupuncture appts. to every 2 weeks (at the most) hoping that will help my back from getting too bad during these stressful times ahead.

So that’s the news, I think I’m calmer after talking to my dr. He’s getting to know me and so knows better what I need to hear. Time to go to my Open Studio class now!

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Grateful

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately about my health. Not just the cancer part, but all the other crap, the back pain (which has been bad this week) the blood pressure, blood sugars, lymphedema etc. This morning during my shower I had a big sigh, feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all (this was after I had taken my blood sugar & blood pressure readings which weren’t great- probably from the back pain and extra ibuprofen use- and got on the scale and saw that I still had the couple pounds that I have gained back these last couple weeks). Then my view shifted to the fact that I could stand and take a shower. I am not an invalid, although my back has definitely limited me (the thought of sitting on the ground is excruciating, never mind getting up again). I can still function quite well, and that may not always be the case. So, I’m grateful for that.

After the shower I began to get dressed and got my compression stockings and rubber gloves out (you have to use rubber gloves to get the darn things on, if compression stockings are easy to get on, then they are too big or have lost their compression). I stopped for a moment, some days I just sit there for a little while gathering up the energy and will to get them on. I thought about how I will have to continue to do this every single day for the rest of my life (and wear them till bedtime and then wash them out and hang them to dry in the shower). But having had my grateful moment in the shower just a few minutes earlier I decided to focus on that. For now, it’s not a big deal, I can get them on and off. There will come a time that it will be much more difficult. So for today, I am grateful.

Sometimes you have to take the grateful moments where you can. It’s not always about the gorgeous sunny day, or the beautiful flowers or the face of your sleeping child. Sometimes it’s just the fact that you are capable of making it through the little things of that day.

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Today Z. and I went through all of her books and sorted them into keep and get rid of piles. Then she sorted her keep pile into those she wanted in her room and those she wanted in the playroom. Then I sorted the get rid of piles into those to give away and those to keep in a box (I have a number of boxes of Z.’s old books that I can’t part with, but I got rid of 8 grocery bags of books and only kept one file box worth). I also put together the green cardboard boxes for her this morning and she arranged them on the shelves and put some things inside. Right now she has almost three cubes open so there is plenty of room for expansion.

These are the neon green doggy butt hooks. They still need to be mounted on a piece of wood. I’m hoping that A. can get over his fear of the router (we’ve had it for at least 15 years and he’s never used it) and make a nice mounting for them.

Z. drew out her lightening bolt on the wood, A. cut it and painted it (it still needs one more top coat). We all decided that if she tires of it as a lightening bolt we can turn it upside down and it can be a Xmas tree!

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Sneak preview

This is a before picture of Z.’s room, a really, really before picture. It was taken a few days after we moved into the house in 2003 so not only was the room clean, but sparse in comparison to the way it looked recently (I should have taken a picture before we dismantled it, but didn’t get to it before A. started taking things out of it). But you can get the idea, it was very pink, very little girl, very unlike the 10 year old (soon to be 11 year old) Z. of today. She had done her best to deface the pinkness with lots of Pokemon stuff, but it was still so not her.

Z.’s room isn’t quite done but we got the furniture today and she’ll be sleeping in it tonight so I decided to take pictures tonight since it’s probably the cleanest it will be from here on out. The view above is from the door to her room (from the hallway, she has three doors in her room, including one to the playroom and one to the bathroom and not including the two closet doors). The armoire is one of the few pieces of furniture from before that we kept, she got a new bed and new bookcase (that cube thing). Her bed is to the left against the wall, and to the right is her closet and the door to the bathroom. Also to the left is the door to the playroom.

We still have to make the neon green lightening bolt that will be over the bed (we’ll cut it from plywood and hang it). The bed will have two rolling storage units underneath (A.’s putting them together right now). They are heavy duty, made of the same melamine as the bed, white with black lids. She has 2 other sets of sheets and duvet covers, one has white sheets with a gray and white mottled duvet cover and the other is gray and white sheets with a plain gray duvet. I think we both like the black and white ones best but the other ones will be nice too. Behind the door on the wall (to the right of the photo) is a wall book holder thing we had gotten for her when she was a toddler from Pottery Barn. We put it right back where it had been before the room was painted. It’s a good place to put magazines and books that are being read.

She picked out the cool wall clock at Ikea. We also got new lamps (three of them, the tiny clip reading lamp on her bed, a nightstand lamp and a floor lamp) and a neat little alarm clock that you can see through (which she has set to 24 hour time and to beep every hour). The narrow white bookcase was in her room previously, I thought it fit perfectly on that little angled wall (the door is the one out to the hallway).

There’s nothing in the cubed bookcase yet. We bought a bunch of green boxes for 4 of the cubes that I still have to put together (same idea as the magazine holders that are in there, those cardboard boxes with the metal corners on the lids). The rest of the shelves we’ll keep open for books. Her old bookcase is currently in the playroom and my hope is to empty it and get it out of there, it’s just getting too crowded in there and I find that the more stuff that is in the room, the messier she keeps it.

I think I’m probably just as excited (or maybe more so) than Z. is tonight! It’s so great to finally see this room come together. I’ve been feeling and urgency to get these big projects done now while I am feeling relatively good. She needed a new, more grown up room so badly. She also had a pretty big hand in the decorating decisions, the wall colors were her choice (although I brought them down a notch or two on the color chips, knowing that these would be dark enough. I think we had a good mix of hers and my input. I pretty much did all the shopping for furniture and linens, etc. but did not get anything without her approval. She had a blast picking out the clocks and lamps today (and at Ikea they were so cheap that she could pretty much have whatever she wanted). Hopefully this room will last her for long while!

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