what thoughts rattle around in your brain when you're a mom of a toddler and a breast cancer patient?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Birthday #39 and other things

Amazingly, I've made it to birthday #39. I'm not even counting cancer when I make this comment about myself. I'm made plenty of ridiculous decisions about my health and welfare and to be honest, some of those decisions ought to have taken me off this green planet years ago. And yet here I am at 39, battling a fierce apponent who will simply not leave me alone.

Birthday #39 was really nice. I asked for a birthday party and Dan and Angela put it together in about a week. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling that I haven't had for a long time and it again made me remember how lucky I am to have such nice family and friends. Alot of my friends gave me clothes, which is especially nice since most of my "regular" stuff hangs on me and looks pretty bad. I guess thats what happens when you go from a size 6 to a size 1 in a month or two. I got some cute silver earrings, some wonderful candles and bath stuff, and a whole lot more. It was fun to open presents like a little kid. Originally I wanted the them of this birthday to be One Year, Still Here. I think I even made a blog entry with this title? Anyway, Angela thought it was a little depressing so we didn't go with it.

On Saturday, Dan and I went to go get my engagement ring reset. It was a cathedral setting with a princess cut diamond. I really liked it but for some reason, even though we asked for white gold, it came back as yellow gold, which I rarely wear. And the setting was so high and sharp, I was always afraid I would gouge the baby's tender little head with it, so once she was born I put the ring away. But the ring means alot to me and I want to wear it again so it's getting reset to something more smooth and modern looking. A pressure setting in white gold. It ought to be ready in a week or so, as soon as we approve the wax mold they made of the new setting.

So you can probably tell that I'm down today. Cancer does that, you have ups and downs that are more pronounced than your pre-cancer days. I'm sad because it's in my face that I'm not wonderwoman and I can't do it all like I want. I'm worried that if I have to keep missing work from being tired from chemo, I will lose my job. I don't know enough about the laws that protect people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. I understand that my employer has work that needs to be done and it would be hard to blame them if they wanted to let me go and hire someone healthy. I want to be that healthy person again and I'm trying so hard. If only the cancer would leave me alone for good.

I started the new chemo this week, Navelbine. Luckily it isn't making me sick or nauseaous but it is making me soooo tired that it's dangerous for me to drive sometimes and its hard to predict when that will happen. There's just something about getting into the car that makes me extra sleepy, kind of the same reasons babies fall asleep in their carseats. On my way into work today, I fell asleep for a second or two while waiting at a stoplight. I rested my head on the steering wheel and seconds later, cars were honking at me to get going. It was then that I decided I should probably not drive into work today and that my body was sending me a clear message: you need more sleep.

I've missed so much work lately, I'm starting to worry about my job. If I'm not too tired, then my back and shoulders hurt from cancer and referred pain. My employer is getting me a new chair to help with my comfort in the office but the ordering process is not going smoothly and here it is one week later and no chair. Anyway, I missed all of Monday, worked about 5 hours Tuesday and today is Wednesday, the day I fell asleep at the stoplight and then decided to go home to sleep some more.

The really crappy thing is that this chemo is given weekly, so I will feel like this (or worse) for two months at a minimum...and if the treatment is working, probably more like 6 months. Today I wrote my boss an email about re-addressing the topic of working from home. I'm all set up to do it but he has not agreed to it when I asked in the past. I'm not sure if this is a University policy, a department policy or one that the IT director enforces herself. I need to know who to talk to about it. It just seems dumb that I'm home ready to work for 6 out of 8 hours in a workday. And surely it would cost them more to hire a temp to do my work? It would be so easy to track if I was "really" working since we have a content management system for our websites. I know most companies think if you're working from home, then you're probably not really working. Working means alot to me. Not because I'm some crazy workaholic...but work means a bunch of different things to me. It means I'm still ok enough to keep a job. It means money. It means health benefits. It means something to distract me from all the medical garbage in my life.

It sucks to be tired in the daytime and wide awake at night, too. Insomnia is no fun. Sometimes I'm awake because I'm scared and I don't know where this cancer thing is going to take me. Sometimes I'm just uncomfortable from back and shoulder pain and laying down in bed hits all the places that hurt. I feel like an old lady with these complaints.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Brisa said...

Happy Birthday! I found your site via the HeadHuggers, since I'm thinking of knitting some hats. Thank you for your blog. My heart goes out to you and your battle with cancer. I am definitely praying for you and hoping for a healthy recovery. I hope this chemo round is not too hard on you. Anyway for what it's worth, from a total stranger, I find your thoughts to be valuable and encouraging. I do not want to take those moments you speak about for granted in my own life. I hope you don't mind, I read and comment from time to time. Brisa

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A simple hot compress applied to the face is very soothing to those throbbing aches and pains of a blocked sinus, while a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief can provide welcome relief for similar conditions. While supplements of vitamin C, D and zinc will shorten the lifespan of a common cold, a hot lemon drink is also extremely good. And be sure to cuddle-up in bed when you have a cold, as it will make the body sweat out the germs.

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For those unpleasant times when you suffer from diarrhea, two tablespoons of brown vinegar will usually fix the problem. Vinegar can be rather horrible to take, but who cares! The problem is more horrible. Vinegar can usually be found in most people's cupboards, so you don't need to worry about finding someone to run to the shop for you in an emergency.

Sleepless? Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can quickly become addictive, try this: Drink only caffeine free tea or coffee starting late in the afternoon.. Go to bed earlier rather than later, as being overtired tends to keep people awake. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use only pure wool or cotton sheets and blankets. Polyester materials can cause sweat and make you thirsty (if your child constantly asks for water throughout the night, this could be the reason).

And don't watch those scary movies just before retiring! If you still can't sleep, make a tea of lemongrass or drink a nightcap of herbal tea containing chamomile. It's easy to grow lemongrass in your garden or start a flower pot on the balcony for ease of picking. Simply steep a handful in boiling water for five minutes. Honey may be added for a sweetener.

Of course there will be times when you do need modern drugs, so if these simple remedies don't have the required affect, be sure to see a health care professional.


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