Saturday, December 22, 2012

Down to the wire!

Three times a day.
My friend Mo told me what her Dad used to say:
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

I am down to my last bite of Radiation Elephant this Monday the 24th. The last time I will ever have to lie down under that huge Linac machine and have my head bolted to the table via The Mask. Hurrah!

The only thing I will miss is the wonderful people I have met along the way. I am having a hard time gathering my thoughts because of all the meds I am on, but my new buds, Theresa & Don have been pestering me to make a new entry. So, this one's for you, Theresa & Don! Don is undergoing the same treatment as me, as far as the mask & radiation schedule goes. We will both be done radiation on the same day. Don is much braver than I, as he is undergoing chemo at the same time :'(
Theresa & Don
A handsome ER doc. (Yeah, I had an overnight at the ER)
I sighed to Craig, "I can't WAIT for this to be over!" & he replied, "Yeah, but you will miss the people." I've got to say he is correct. Here's some more pictures of people at HUP who have made me smile &  inspired me... 
Kimberly & Paul. Paul rang the bell last week.
Add caption
Kay & Carol, volunteers in our
little corner of HUP. (They are not
conjoined twins.)

How I productively spend my days...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Radiation Vacation

Mo's Creations ~ beautiful, huh? I have to give the toolbox back after Christmas:)
I seem to be having a hard time gathering my thoughts enough to create an interesting post for you-all. They scatter here & there more than usual. A friend told me this was the case with her also when she was on one of the same meds. *whew* So that's why I haven't updated for a while.

Today will be my nineteenth out of thirty treatments, so I feel as though I'm coming down the home stretch... Come On Sea Biscuit! the crowd in my head roars.

Today's appointment was pushed back until 6:10 tonight... because the machine broke down. Ummm, huh? I wouldn't want to be the person it broke down on, nor the first person to go after it has been fixed. My one nightmare as I lie strapped to the plank under the humming machine is that it will run amok and keep radiating me until my neck burns away from my body, while the techs frantically try to turn the machine off.
There. I said it.

Christmas lights covered in snow.
I put up lights & decorations (such as they are) several weeks ago. I sure like me some Christmas lights!

Thin & crispy ~ not what I was going for. 
I saw a cooking show where Sand Tart cookies were featured. My mouth watered as I viewed the soft, puffy cookies. "I'm going to make them!", I vowed, and got the butter out to soften. Well, I screwed up somewhere along the line because instead of soft, puffy delishishment, I got hard, crispy, radiated throat-ripping flat cookies that sat around the house for days and were finally banished to the trash can. The first time I can ever remember throwing away cookies :(

Elephant Eating Chart
So says Miz Ellie

And here's a snappy saying from my antiquing bud, Ellie Carroll, who always has such a sunny outlook on life :)

How I'm Feeling (Bitch & Moan section)

At my eighteenth treatment, I am on Gabapentin; a nerve pain reliever, Magic Mouthwash; a numbing agent, a mouthwash for thrush (a condition that seems to come with the radiation territory), a topical numbing gel for the inside of my mouth, a (what I think is a) mild narcotic for throat pain and (Oh how it kills me to say this word...) a STOOL softener because all the meds do a number on the pipes. Oh, plus fluoride for the teeth every night. I was contemplating getting myself a pretty pill case then thought in horror: "Old Lady-hood is raising its ugly head". Plastic baggies will do just fine for a few more weeks.

Laundry Station
a.k.a. Dining Room Table
My throat & mouth still hurt, despite the meds & I am tired lots. Instead of doing the wash, cleaning & marketing all in about a half a day or so, I now choose which one task has to get done. The family is not complaining one bit, and in fact, probably don't notice the wafts of dog hair. As long as clean underwear and socks magically appear on the dining room table, they are fine. 
Bless their hair covered hearts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hair today...

Yay! I finally have something to write about ~ I'm losing my hair! And here I always thought it would be our teenager that would make this happen. Just kidding, Phil is a wonderful teen ~ nay, a man in teen clothing.

Suddenly! This morning in the shower a great glob of hair gathered at the drain, plus more as I combed.  Dr. Ahn said there would be days like this. Actually, he told me that I may lose the hair around the bottom of my scalp, and that's where it's coming (going?) from.

On the bright side, my left cheek is as smooth as the day I was born :) No facial hair that I can see.

I'm losing hair~
it will come back.
I'm losing taste~
it will come back.
I'm losing voice~
it will come back.
I'm losing cancer cells~
it better not come back!

My friend Jill has organized my limo service which kicks in next week. I had hoped to drive myself longer but the doc is putting me on narcotics soon and says I can't drive when I'm on 'em. It should make for some dreamy trips down the Schyulkill! On the other hand, if I drove on drugs, I would be like 25% of the other drivers. Many heart-felt thanks to my Drivers.  <3  (that is the symbol for a heart, Aunt Sue & Mom!)

Today's trip should be interesting. I'm watching the snow fall & the cars crawl. My appointment is at 11:30 ~ think I'll be leaving soon with my empty Ragu jars!

T'was a slow but easy ride down & back from the city. I saw several cars in ditches and one over-turned truck. The good news is, I did not have to use my "equipment". No lady-like Ragu jars for me; I brought a honkin' big Tupperware vat.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Brother Bill chimes in again.

My last post ended with the fervent wish that I would never have to pee while on the Schuylkill Expressway. Brother Bill quickly replied with the following missive...

Peeing on the Schuylkill:
Someone should write a book. My fellow commuter, Bob favored orange juice quart containers (due largely to Bob's predilection for robust swigging of OJ while at the wheel and his questionable vehicle  housekeeping standards).  Back then in the 70's they had fold open spouts rather than the modern screw cap configuration. The spout afforded full nozzle insertion.  This reduced the challenge to simply insuring gravity remained a friend. The procedure was best executed while stopped in traffic as it required posturing & attention not commensurate with vehicular operation.  Bob reports the process is typically at least messy, particularly if a quart container is not enough. And of course one is left holding an open container of urine until arriving at destination. 

I understand from another friend, Roseanne that a Ragu spaghetti sauce jar is more suited to those members of the gentler gender. That has the added luxury of resealing the container as long as one keeps track of the lid. 

Me, being a Buckwalter boy,  well I typically do not plan ahead until I have several painfully uncomfortable experiences "under my belt". Subsequently my approach is to put off relief until the point of near uromysitisis* poisoning, then pull over, get out and pee.  Along the SureKill that means:
a). If gridlock, I have a suite of spectators who are afforded the complete spectacle of an understandable but socially repugnant enterprise. 
b) one wheel of my ride is strategically selected for a golden shower. 
c) I subsequently have time to reflect and measure the new found relief against the embarrassing new level of regard the local element of my fell motorist hold for me.  Fortunately those days were prior to the now ubiquitous video and camera phones. 

This approach, however, did once have a ancillary benefit. It was a dark and stormy night. I was trying to get home in rush hour traffic and snow in a high mileage vehicle that had developed a new noise. The noise, on reflection, was isolated to either a bad wheel bearing or something gone wrong with a wheel brake. When I exited the vehicle I selected the most suspect wheel to huddle over. Sure enough, most of my excretion was turned to steam on contact with the wheel. The bearing was so far gone it was making things very hot.  I believed I helped cool things a bit. 
That evening I had passengers on board because:
a) the snow storm was bad enough they left their cars at work to catch a ride in my 4X4 Bronco. 
b) They were celebrating the approaching holidays with adult beverages prior to the trip. 
c) their homes were on the way to my home. 
We all found the episode to be a source of humorous diversion largely due to item b.  
Guess I'll have to start saving Ragu jars :)

A mythical medical condition employed to explain to law enforcement officers as to why you were urinating in public.
"If I don't go when I feel like I have to...I could get Uromysitisis and die!" -- Seinfeld (The Parking Garage), paraphrased

Thursday, November 15, 2012

3 down, 27 to go

There's my Mask, waiting for me.
Here's the Linac machine (a.k.a. The Zapper) that kills cancer cells ~ and many other cells ~ in daily five minute increments.

The Techs are awesome, supportive & fun. They spend their working hours down deep in the bowels of the Perelman Center building. N'er does a ray of sun ever reach its beige colored depths, but the people who work there are mighty sunny :) I've been thinking of funny things to do to the techs...

• Use an eyeliner pencil and make a whole bunch of dotted "tattoos" around my real one.

• Tape "Help Me" on the soles of my shoes, ala Catholic Wedding High-jinx Style.

• Point to the person next to me when my name is called (already did this & it got some smiles).

How does radiation feel? 

If The Zapper didn't make noises, I wouldn't know anything was happening. 

Here's what happens when I go for treatment...
My name is called in the large reception area, and I go back into the spa-like changing area & don my choice of two designer johnnies ~ one ties in back, the other worn like a robe. I get to keep my clothes on from the waist down, plus my shoes. I wait a few minutes in a smaller waiting room. Usually there are a few other people there and I wonder what battles they are fighting.

Next, when my name is called, I go down the hall to one of the five Linac machines housed in rooms of thick walls & huge heavy doors (I'm guessing the door is about 4" thick). I take off my outer robe, lie down on the slab, grip each handle at my sides and wait as the two techs bolt my mask down to the table & move me about slightly to line up the laser beam with my tattoo. The techs leave the room, shutting that honkin' big door behind them. They reassure me if I have any problems, just raise my hand, as they are watching me every second through a camera or a window. 

Got me both ways :(
As long as I'm not late for my appointment
or do not have to pee, I'm okay with it!
My eyes are closed due to the mask, and I start mentally singing my "99 Bottles of Beer" song as The Zapper begins to make assorted humming & adjusting noises. The table I am lying on moves slightly forward and back until I am lined up. Various ranges of humming noises and bright lights start happening which I can see through my closed eyelids. There is a noise towards the end that has a higher-sounding more intense buzz than the other noises & I'm thinking that's when my radiation is being delivered. The first time, I thought I felt all the cells in my neck sit up and say "Wot the Hell?" and I haven't had that feeling again since. This treatment takes about 5 minutes. I get to about "72 Bottles" before I hear the door open. I get off the table, go change & am on my way home. Yesterday, since my appointment was at 8am, I got to go through rush hour both coming & going... w00t.

How do you feel after treatment? 

So many people have told me I will be tired that I think I am self-fulfilling that, whether I am really tired or not. I could be catching Craig's cold, or it could be PMS lurking, but I spent most of yesterday snoozing on the couch with occasional guilty bouts of light housework. I can't believe that I would feel any effects after only three zaps, but my incision site on my neck feels a bit tight & sun-burn-y. My tongue feels a little thicker. Dr. Ahn prescribed this for me for further down the treatment road when my throat & mouth are sore:  
"Magic Mouthwash #18" ~ I ain't kiddin'!
It's the first indication of humor I've ever seen on a medicine:)

I'm told that since The Zapper is indiscriminate on what cells it destroys, the best way for me to build up my good cells is by consuming lots of water & protein. I have to time the "water" part just so. I'm sure I'll have some "GOTTA PEE" moments on the Schykyilllksdjfkjas;lfjsdf Expressway. 

Maybe by the end of my treatment, I'll learn how to spell "Schuylkill" :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dry Run

Friday was Dry Run Day to finalize position & area to be radiated on my neck. (Yes, I bought a bag of donuts for the techs.)

What to wear, what to wear...
I was led from the large reception area to a spa-like setting with ambient lighting, soft colors on the walls and carpeting on the floor. There were several large changing rooms and instead of big fluffy spa robes, there was a large selection of hospital johnnies to choose from. This solves my personal issue of coming up with 30 different fashion looks for the duration of my treatment. Here's my choice for Friday:
Feelin' groovy

From there, I was led into a room where I was to have a few more x-rays taken and final adjustments made to my mask. I met two more lovely people, Danielle & Erin, who bolted me down to the table & put my mask on. Pictures were taken as I sang my brother Bill's song suggestion in my head: "99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall". I got to 46 bottles of beer by the time I was done. Danielle assured me that actual treatment would take less time.
Danielle & Mask


As the techs were adjusting my masked self on the table, they were telling me what they were doing. It was mentally painful for me to not be able to speak, as I had the mask mouthpiece in my mouth. There's only so many inflections you can put into a muffled "ummmm-hummm", and certainly no witty quips, which this situation just cries out for.

When I was all done and leaving the spa environment for the big waiting room, I heard the Bell being rung. There is a silver ship's bell in the room & when patients finish their last treatment, they step up and ring the bell. A huge burst of applause & cheers greet this happy peal. Today's bell ringer was a boy of about 9 years old. A large group of his family was gathered around wreathed in smiles & tears as pictures of them with the smiling young boy were taken. It was very moving. His Mom was holding a shopping bag with the boy's mask in it.

Last Treatment Bell
So, Monday I start my own journey towards the bell.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

en Garde!

I am still learning that I never know which way the road will twist. 

On Monday I got a call asking me to come down to HUP Wednesday (today) and have an ultrasound & a needle biopsy of a lymph node on the right side of my neck. (All the partying was recently done on the left side.) Dr. Ahn saw something on my most recent CT scan which he wanted a closer look at, since it could change the radiation treatment.

I had a whole day to stew about it & clean out another drawer or two.

I decided I could handle another neck dissection, but if I needed another TORS operation that required a breathing tube, I may just walk out in the woods somewhere, pick a nice place to sit and start singing my Death Song, just like those old Native American women.

I thought about a few friends of mine who have had needle biopsies of their breast tissues & how painful they said they were. Sitting between these two girlfriends who have had breast biopsies was like sitting between two women comparing painful birthing stories :)

So, you see, I was fully primed & jumpy when I was lead into the small examining room and asked to lay on the table. The ectoplasm-like stuff that I remember from pregnancy ultrasound days was applied and the right side of my neck was carefully ultrasounded. Pictures were taken & examined. Drs. Jones & Patel figured out where they wanted to go in for the samples. First they sprayed my neck with numbing spray and then I was given a needle of novocain, which felt like ~ all together now ~ "a leeeettle pinch". Then, with Dr. Jones, the experienced doctor looking on, Dr. Patel (the learning doc) proceeded to take biopsies with another needle. When I heard her (Dr. Jones) asking Dr. Patel to "try to move the tip blah-blah-blah...."  (medical talk), I had to pipe in with Yoda's saying:

Do or Do not. There is no try.

Do or Do not.
It didn't take long and my one foot only lifted off the table slightly at one point ~ more in anticipation of pain than actual pain! So for all of you who are stewing about a needle biopsy ~ STOP right now, because it doesn't hurt. At least the type & area that mine was done did not hurt. Sure don't want to try one in the boob though.

Also, the samples were looked at directly & I was told without delay that there was no cancer in that lymph node ~ just normal lymph node-y stuff.

I was given a Instant Ice Bag thingie & instructional discharge papers which as far as I know are still sitting by the table. I was so relieved to hear that one side of my neck was still behaving that I gushed my thanks and was back on the Schulkill Expressway in two shakes of a lambs tail.

My neck is just peachy & here's a picture to prove it. Just a wee tiny red spot. Bet you can't even see it.
Now I can look forward to celebrating Phil's 17th Birthday dinner at the Black Lab Bistro in Phoenixville with Doris & Phil (Gran'ma & Gran'pa)!

Knock on wood.

Test run for radiation starts this Friday. I'll report back here with pictures :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Kicking Some Cancer Butt

I went for my post-op, one month out after the TORS operation and was oooo'd & ahhhh'd over about how well the surgeries were healing. Dr. O'Malley was pleased. Of course, I was wearing my Kick Cancer's Butt Boots and bearing another catering tray of Ice House donuts ~ what could go wrong?
Kick-Butt Boots

I still have an ever decreasing area of numbness around my left ear & left side of tongue, but I am eating & talking ~ nay, even yelling at times ~ almost at my pre-surgery range. I am also delighted to find I am able to issue my ear-piercing unlady-like whistle at practically the same startling volume as my old self. Surely God is Good:) My sleeping is much improved. After the surgery, I used to sleep sitting up in bed ~ awkward ~ and only for exactly 1 1/2 hours at a time until my dry mouth woke me up. Now I sleep up to five hours straight.

Because I elected to go for the TransOral robotic surgery (TORS), the healing time was much shorter & the radiation level does not have to be as high as if I were to have undergone traditional surgery. The traditional surgery for this type of cancer is very rough because of how deep in the throat the cancer is located. Bones would have to be broken, extensive cutting & scarring... a possible tracheostomy while healing took place. It would have been a hard, painful road to travel & my hat is off to those who have gone that route. :'(

I'm grateful for the sheer luck of being located near  Drs. O'Malley & Weinstein & the amazing staff at HUP.

Next up, a "practice run" on the radiation gig on November 9th, then the real thing on the 12th. I'm thinking I should bring donuts.

Friday, October 26, 2012

And now a word from my brother Bill...

My brother Bill sent me the following email after reading my last post. I snorted coffee through my nose (which is really easy for me to do now) while reading it. Hope you enjoy it too. Bill is the brother that looks like this guy on the TV Series, "Abandoned":

Anyway, here's what he wrote me...

Jeeper, what a drill! And the SureKill Expy. to boot. You really must have pissed off someone important. 

Allow gobs of time for the SKE in the rain. And The Lord have mercy on you if it snows or sleets. I have spent hours on that 13 miles of what we so euphemistically call highway, with enough youthful impatience to frequently add to the misery of my fellow motorist. I should have had vanity plates, "dkhd@large". 

Suggestions for whiling away the coffin time. Try tunes that inextricably bolt themselves in your cerebral cortex like: "99 bottles" etc...., or that one that goes,"have a holly jolly Christmas...."  , or perhaps,"Jesus Loves Me". 
Further time wasting opportunities include but are not limited to making up new lyrics to familiar tunes. 
While bailing boxes for FedEx I have come up with verses describing my job there to the tune of "Fat Bottom Girls" (one of Freddie Mercury's best rip your face off blues/rock tunes). The sad consequence being whenever I now hear that song I think of package handling. 

I am empathic about the plumping dye. Took some stuff laced with Barium (!) once in an effort to revel my plumbing to the experts when I showed up at the Phoenixville hospital whining about kidney stone(s). Then had to stand in back of a brobdingnagian Etch-a-sketch while the decision makers peered into the front of it. The best description I can come up with for that experience was a spreading feeling of warmth, tinged with growing apprehension and a special kind of personal alarm. I suppose if that feeling were to unfold while walking one of the Sedona's Vortex trails, it would have been deemed a blessing or at least a positive experience. But the clinical environs of the E-room in conjunction with my growing unremitting dull pain forced subscription to a negative & apprehensive frame of mind. Moreover, in spite of professional medical prognostication, I did not feel completely normal when exiting the building. This due in no small part to the alarming experience of urination the Barium overboard before my release. Nothing quite like that has happened before or since. 
The hospital visit exacted manifold repercussions with a net result. I will suffer more pain than that what drove me there then, before going there again. I suspect that sort of thinking is an intended result foisted on hapless denizens by the front line authorities. 

Let me know if I can help with transportation needs. I get off work around 9:30 AM weekdays. And can cut out at 8:30 AM if needed. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Susan gets a tat

Yup. I got a tattoo today. It's to help line me up on the slab so the radiation will go where it's supposed to go. Here's a couple of pictures:
See that lil' dot?

Here's what it looks like way up close:
Hello Kitty!
Today's visit was to make a mask & to take a CT Scan, with contrast, which is iodine injected into the blood stream. You are warned that your genital area will heat up and many people fear they are wetting their pants :) Been there, done that, checked myself. I feel like an Old Hand at some of this stuff. Once again, my juicy veins were oooo'd and ahhhh'd over by the lovely Nurse Pat. Then she stuck me.
"Just a leeettle pinch now..." they all say.

Next, The Mask. Before the scan, the two nice techs had me lay on the slab that moves in and out of the CT scanner and proceeded to nudge and move me around until I was lying Just. So. They bolted down my shoulders (that's what it seemed like ~ accuracy is obviously very important) and started putting a white gauze shroud around my hairline, covering my hair. I asked them how I would look as a nun and started singing the first line of "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" from the movie, The Sound of Music

Next, The Mask. It starts out looking like this:
The Mask

It feels like it's made out of the cloth similar to the disposable Olay face cloths I use to remove make-up. It is wetted with warm water then put on my face & quickly molded to my lovely contours. The edges then feel like they are somehow bolted to the slab, and there you are... Trapped and trying not to feel claustrophobic & wanting to be a Good Sport and Model Patient for all these nice people who are just trying help me, for cryin' out loud :) 

A Song! A Song! I desperately cast about in my head: I have to have a song to sing in my mind or I will rip this thing off my face and leap up off this table. Of course, the only song I could think of was "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" from the movie, The Sound of Music. Next, I trotted out the catchy: "Doe, A Deer, A Female Deer" from the same movie, picturing those mischievous Von Trappe children hanging from the roadside trees all dressed in their homemade drapery clothes. I sang these two songs over & over in my head for three hours while moving in & out of the scanner. Okay, it was probably more like 15-20 minutes. 

"IGNORE THE PHANTOM ITCH ON YOUR NOSE, Susan. No, you do NOT have to cough. HOLD STILL!" These stern Susan admonishments were interspaced between the verses I sang in my head. 

It wasn't bad. It's Mind Over Matter, fighting down the claustrophobic issues. Here's some cool pictures of The Mask. I get to keep it when I am done treatment, although one tech told me most people never want to see it again. I'm thinking some kind of artwork...
Cool, huh? Damn, my eyebrows look great.

Here's the slab, er, CT Scanner

My Hannibal Lechter impression. Can you understand the claustrophobic feeling?

This is Dr. Peter Ahn, another "Top Doc" in my book.
After all the scans were done, I went to see Gina, The Scheduler for the radiation appointments. I start on November the 9th with a "dry run", where they sit me down and arrange me for the actual radiation machine. Then the treatments will begin on the following Monday and continue for five days a week for six weeks. Thanksgiving & Black Friday OFF :)
I asked several of the tech's how long they thought I would be able to drive myself and they said between three & four weeks, so hopefully, I will only need two weeks of rides. Which I hate to ask for. Just ask my friend, Jill, who has been hovering over me like a mother hen, bless her heart. I hate asking for help. 

Hate, hate, hate. 

If you want a thrill-filled ride on the Schuylkill Expressway with a cranky patient, please leave a comment below or email me & I will email you Jill's email: she is scheduling rides, damn it. I'm trying to get scheduled for 11:00-11:30am slots, but Gina told me the schedule can change. She says to allow an hour for the treatment, although the actual radiation only takes about five minutes. Craig & I have dubbed it "Penn Time", as Penn's time is different from ordinary time, just sayin'. I have clocked the rides at about an hour each way, knocking on wood for bad weather & over-turned semi trucks scattering who knows what on the road. 

There! I've really talked it up, huh?

Next, a post-post op with Dr. O'Malley on the 30th. What food item should I bring in for them?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

another bite of elephant

Yesterday was my appointment with the Penn Medicine dentist, "Dr. E". (Go ahead, you try saying Dr. Elizabeth Evtimovska.)

A Chopper Hopper. One piece of vintage I DON'T want.
I inherited many wonderful things from my Mom ~ alas, her soft teeth gene came bundled with them. Those of you who know me well, know the dental delights I have gone through with my teeth over the years. Implants, bridges, bone grafts ~ from cadavers!, flippers, sinus lifts; many surgeries & procedures to make the smile that I have today. Kudos to my awesome dentist, Dr. Ann McHale, & her staff of Anns (and one Linda) who worry and fret over my teeth just as much & maybe more than I do. Thus, I was nervous to the point of tears about this appointment. Excellent Worrier that I am, I just knew I was going to be scheduled to have all my teeth pulled.

Dr. E took one of those cool panoramic x-rays that shows the whole mouth, poked around in my mouth, took one more x-ray of another war horse of a molar of mine and said... I was good to go. I melted in the chair ~ as if all my bones had suddenly disappeared ~ at this news. And, yes, I cried yet again while pitifully grasping the Doctor's hand and thanking her. I would have bowed & scraped to her if my bones had not just left my body.

And yet another swallow of elephant...
I drove myself to & fro my appointment. It wasn't horrible. Under an hour going in and a tad over an hour coming home. O may it continue!

Check out these hand-made cards Stacie Olsen made for me ~ how delightful! Hand-embossed, all kinds of embellishments; they are lovely. If you don't receive one, it's not because I have deemed you Unworthy, it's because I used 'em up already.

Hand-made & lovely designs. Would it be redundant of me to say "Thank You", Stacie?
These are definitely TNTTO (Too Nice To Throw Out) after receiving. I only hope I have worthy words of thanks to write in them!

And here's a completely unrelated picture of a guy on a TV show called "Abandoned" who looks exactly like my brother Bill:

This is what my brother looks like.
Dang, that's a big diamond.
Here's how my neck is looking these days.

My voice still has that "strangulation" quality. I am unsuccessful at yelling at Phil, our 16 year old, to pick up socks, come for dinner, etc... Craig has started saying "What?" while at the same time walking away from me:) (Actually, he only did it once but I thought it was funny & blog-worthy.)

I am an avid listener of the hour long radio show called "This American Life". I download it onto my iPhone and listen as I fall asleep at night. Last week, the show titled "What Doesn't Kill You" was featured & the first story resonated with me.

"In July, Tig was diagnosed with cancer. A week later she went on stage on Los Angeles and did a now-legendary set about her string of misfortunes. This is an excerpt of the full performance, which is available for download at Louis CK's web site. (13 minutes)"

To me, the first story was laugh-out-loud funny.

Thank you for caring about me & for all your prayers ~ it's working :~)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Okay, a more in-depth post, if you're interested...

So I was pretty darn excited to hear Dr. O'Malley say no chemo & out with the feeding tube ~ Yay! Maybe it was the donuts ~ made fresh daily at the Ice House, yo.
Always ready with goodies I am.

Trish Dooley
The first lady we meet at our appointment was Trish Dooley. I thought her job looked like fun. She put me through my paces on how much movement I could do with my mouth & different vowels. Then she got out an assortment of foods & drinks for me to try to swallow. This was the Best Test Ever & I passed with flying colors. Trish suggested that my nose tube could come out. Yippee! Thank you, Trish!

Next stop, Dr. O'Malley. He concurred with Trish and 1-2-3! out came the tube. Craig was amazed how long it was ~ gross, say I.
He said everything was healing nicely and set me up for my next appointment with Dr. Ahn, a Radiation Oncologist for the next day. We said good by to our friends at Doc O'Malley's office ~ a wonderful team of people whom we had total confidence in. (Plus, they complimented my baking.)

Dorota (R) and her lil' sister!
The next day, my wonderful husband drove once more down that awful road, misnamed the Schuylkill Expressway for our consultation with Dr. Peter Ahn. I thought radiation would be once a week for a few weeks. WRONG. It will be five days a week for six weeks. I will make this my new part time job, as one of Dr. Ahn's nurses said I would be able to drive myself. My heart also sank as I heard what radiation does to your teeth. My teeth have sucked down thousands of dollars already to keep 'em from misbehaving. I think I may have to have a few that my dentist & I have been watching, pulled. sob!
   • I will have to apply flouride gel to my teeth daily for the rest of my life. 
   • My saliva glands will be fried so I will have dry mouth for the rest of my life.
   • I may have to have a stomach feeding tube put in towards the end of the treatment because my throat will be too sore to take food & drink.
All those years of smoking were SO NOT WORTH THIS. This is what I did to myself.
The good side is, it will get rid of my facial hair on my chinny-chin-chin:) and most of all, hopefully will fry any cancer cells still running amok in my neck.

I was given a booklet describing what radiation treatment entailed. The cover looks more like planning for End of Life. What do you think? What exactly are they saying with the lighthouse illustration? Rough seas ahead?

There was a few things in it that made me giggle. This is one of them:
 Whew~ I'm so relieved! But I so was hoping to be able to heat up a can of Progresso in my arm pit.

After hearing all this dismal news, I was feeling a little weepy because I'm a Dental Wimp. All's I can say is Thank God for Fairy God Mothers and Fairy God Friends. One friend decorated our entranceway for the season, plus left a fun goody bag, full of delightful & thoughtful things. I know I'll be using that Teddy, Mo!
Shadow approves of Mums

Corn Shock & adorable scarecrow decor added.

Ain't he cute?

A Bounty of Booty Bag delights! The shaw around Teddy is a Prayer Shaw, knitted by the
 Ladies of First Methodist Church in Phoenixville. Thank you ladies!
So, my 80 year old mother in law not only braved our big exuberant dog, but made her way up our railless steps with that Prayer Shaw that the ladies of her church made just for me! I love you Mom! My friend Mo also left these words of advise for when things seem overwhelming:
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" 

I think I'll start on the tail:)