Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Treatment Two

Yesterday was my second chemotherapy treatment. It was still scary to walk into the room, but I didn't have to completely stop at the threshold this time. I just had to take a deep breath.

The conversation was good, and we had Chinese food for lunch.

And that's just about all I have to say about that.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Aunt Candice: Victor, are you eating cookies for breakfast?

Victor: Yes. Two at a time. They're tasty, with crumbs on top.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zeke's Surgery

Yesterday was Zeke's hydrocele surgery. He did very well. The surgery was a success. But things did not go so well in the recovery room.

Poor Zeke was inconsolable. He arched and twisted and cried and screamed. Jeremy and I tried to comfort him. But Zeke had an IV in his hand, and I have had a number of bad IV experiences lately. When I saw blood in the IV, I might have thrown Zeke at Jeremy and rushed out of the room to faint/throw up. A nurse found me and put me in the recovery room next to Zeke with a warm blanket and a ginger ale.

While I was out, the nurse tried to clear Zeke's IV of blood. The re-taping was obviously insufficient because Zeke ripped the IV clean out. All I could hear was Jeremy saying, "Oh. Help. I'm really sorry," and the nurses saying, "oh dear--let's clean this up." Apparently, there was blood and IV fluid squirting everywhere.

I'm not sorry I missed that part.

I eventually came back in the room, but Zeke would not be comforted. Nor would he drink his juice (I don't think he really knows what it is) or eat the popsicle. Who gives an 18-month-old a grape popsicle? What a mess. And let me tell you how mad he was when he bit off a chunk and it froze his poor little mouth.

We finally gave up and went home, where Zeke could be mad and inconsolable in his own bed. It took about two minutes for him to give up and go to sleep.

He's fine now. He woke up hours later and ate and ate and ate and ate. Today he seems to feel better than he has for weeks. So I guess that's a happy ending.

At least, I hope that was the ending.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Five Foot Nine

According to Harvard, I am at increased risk of cancer because I am tall.

I quote:

Being tall may raise your risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer. Scientists aren’t sure why. One reason may be that tall people have more cells in their bodies, which increases the number of cells that could become cancerous. Another reason may be that tall people grow faster as children. Faster growth is linked to changes in the genetic structure (DNA) of the body’s cells, eventually causing them to become cancerous.

Being tall also increased my chance of being a good basketball or volleyball player, but that sure didn't happen.


Zeke has a hydrocele on his left side. In other words, fluid has traveled from his body into his nether parts.

The surgery will be on Friday at 10:00 AM. It is extremely low risk, and he should be up and around in a day or so.

Monday, June 22, 2009

When it rains . . .

I took Zeke to the doctor today for a swollen body part.

He'll need surgery.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Big Question

On Saturday, Victor wanted to play outside in his pool. We turned on the hose, put it in the pool, and Victor found and put on his swimsuit. Then we put on sunscreen. Then, as he was almost out the door and into pool bliss, Victor refused to put on his hat.

No hat, no pool.

After ten minutes of high drama, Victor came to see me, hat firmly on head.

And he had a question: "Why have to wear a hat? I am wearing sunscreen."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Awesome Movie

Last night, Jeremy and I went out. You know, like we used to.

We went to Vito's for some dinner and then we went to a movie. Naturally, we ended the date by picking up some items at the grocery store. You know, like we always have.

But the grocery store is not the point. The point is the awesome movie we saw last night.

We saw Star Trek, and it was awesome. I mean, really, really terrific. Terrific like Batman, but not as dark or depressing, and maybe even better. Jeremy can't think of a movie he's seen for five years that he liked as much. I can't say that, because Serenity was out in the past five years, and that, too, was excellent. James Bond #1 was also very good.

One thing I liked was that the action sequences were not filmed with shaky, hard-to-follow camera work. Also, the story was easy to follow for a non-avid Star Trek person like me.

The surprise actor appearance was Tyler Perry as a Star Fleet Academy professor. He was not wearing a wig.

So there you have it. Go see Star Trek!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chemo Treatment 1--some reflections

Many people have been kind enough to ask how my first chemotherapy treatment was.

I will tell you: It was not my favorite thing ever, but it was not as bad as being sick in Manaus.

Before my first treatment, I had a "chemo teaching" session with my nurse, Robin. She explained the most common effects of the two chemo drugs I would be taking. The drugs are Taxol and Carboplatin. Taxol is the more severe of the two, and the one that causes hair loss. Both have similar effects, though: loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, hair loss, kidney trouble, other tummy troubles, bad taste in mouth, change in taste, mouth sores and sensitivity.

Now, I'm not going to detail how it affected me, other than to say that I was surprised that so many of the symptoms showed up so quickly. Somehow I developed the delusion that the effects wouldn't set in until treatment 3 or so. I will say that the muscle and joint pain was like having Dengue fever (thanks, Manaus), growing pains, and arthritis (thanks, Fairgrounds Jr. High) all at once.

It's been ten days since the first treatment, and I'm feeling much better now. Still queasy and tired, but much better.

The above picture is my and my Mom on June 6, 2009, two days before my first treatment. Don't you think my hair is the most adorable thing you've ever seen? I just love it. I'm crossing my fingers for less than total hair loss during chemo.

The bandages you see on my chest are from my port--a roughly truffle-sized devise that now resides under my skin. The purpose of the port is to allow injection of drugs and dyes (for CT scans) without subjecting me to IVs. Having a port is creepy, but since I'm a hard stick, it's well worth it.

Finally, the first chemo session itself was scary. I had to take a couple of deep breaths before walking into the big chemo room full of recliners and IV stands. But Mom was there with me, the port worked like a dream, the drugs were clear instead of some toxic color, and the National Geographic magazine had an interesting article on botos, the dolphins of the Amazon. I didn't know that the pink color is only found in males, and is thought to be scar tissue from their violent encounters with each other.

Scary as it was, it improved--slightly--as the hours ticked on and I watched a number of other people come it, sit down, do their treatments, and go on their way. They (except one lady) looked like normal people just running a normal errand. It was encouraging.

One last thing: I learned that I most definitely need the help my mom and Jeremy's mom are providing full time, and the support that so many people are giving from near and far. Thank you, friends.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Since I've had two abdominal surgeries in the past month, I've spent a lot of time lying down. Lucky for me, a friend lent me her portable DVD player. So I've been using the opportunity to start watching Medium, starting at season 1, and to re-watch The X-Files.

I adore The X-Files, even if watching too many episodes in a row makes me paranoid.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Other OC

Today in Relief Society, I told the sisters that I was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Through a staging surgery, we know that although I have a high grade, invasive clear cell cancer, it is in Stage 1. That means it was isolated to one ovary and has not spread throughout the abdominal cavity or to other organs, or invaded the lymphnodes. The prognosis and low recurrence rates are very encouraging.

I will do six rounds of chemotherapy. The first one was last Monday. The others will be every three weeks, provided my blood counts of hemoglobin, white blood cells, and platelets remain high enough to proceed.

Well, now you know almost everything I know. If you're thinking, "Didn't my great-aunt Ethel have ovarian cancer when she was 80?" the answer is probably yes. This is an uncommon cancer in someone my age, especially since I have no biological family history of it.

You can look up ovarian cancer on the internet, but it might freak you out. I don't recommend it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Toilet Master

I have not written about Victor's toilet progress for the past month because I didn't want to jinx it.

But I am going out on a limb to say that VICTOR IS POTTY TRAINED!!!

He uses the toilet, doesn't have accidents, and doesn't need to be reminded.

How did this wondrous thing occur? I don't know. Grandma Nancy was here and took charge of the first accident-filled days with great patience and no drama. Then when she went home, he kept doing it. The one condition was that I cannot be involved. I can't remind him, tell him to go, ask him to go, or anything like it. It is entirely Victor driven.

He was having trouble with messy accidents when I happened to find some Bruder trucks at TJMaxx on a super discount. He happened to see the cement mixer in the trunk of my car.

V: "Oh Mom. A cement mixer. Can I have it?"

Me: "No. Not today."

V: "Ding! I know! I can earn it!"

Me: "Okay. I think that would be fine."

We negotiated the terms of earning the cement mixer: only using the potty, including for poop, for five days. I was pushing for three days, but Victor insisted on five.

And he did it. My mom walked past the bathroom several times that week to hear Victor saying, "I'm earning my cement mixer!"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lesson Learned

On Monday night I asked Victor what good thing had happened to him that day.

He said, "I did not pull the fire alarm today."

Lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parenting Fail

We have two "warm fuzzies" at our house. A "warm fuzzy" is a tube sock full of rice that one can heat gently in the microwave and use to relieve aching muscles.

Or, as Jeremy demonstrated to Victor the other day, it can be a wrecking ball.

He was showing Victor how to swing it into things when I suggested that might not be the best idea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Will He Like It?

Apparently, my cousin and I were on the same wavelength yesterday when we did trial runs in the Nursery with our almost-old-enough offspring.

Here is what happened:

I took Zeke, screaming, out of Relief Society. I dragged him, screaming, to Nursery.

Once inside, he promptly stopped screaming, let go of my hand, and toddled off to play.

I call that a success. I also have great sympathy for the Nursery leaders, because it was 8000 degrees in that room. Have I mentioned how I feel about our building? It starts with S and ends with "tinks."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

This morning my mom asked Victor what he wanted for breakfast.

"Mushrooms!" he replied without hesitation.

A few minutes later she tried again. "Anything else?" she asked.

"Nope," he said.

Then he went to get the box of Lucky Charms, which happens to have a picture of a mushroom on the back. That's a less-funny punchline than wanting actual mushrooms for breakfast, but it does make more sense.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


On Sunday morning I walked past the toaster.

"Hmmm," I thought. "That should be unplugged. But I don't want to ruin Jeremy's toast."

So I didn't unplug it.

A few minutes later the smoke detector went off because smoke was pouring out of the toaster.

I used my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on the smoke-kissed section of the cabinets, but it still smells.

Any suggestions?