Sunday, July 26, 2015

Project Chia Pet Week 5

So... I'm sorry about the 24+ hour delay on what is usually a Friday post.

Here is what happened: I forgot to take the weekly update pic outside, in the light of day, on Friday. I've seen a lot of friends and family this week (on my Utah pilgrimage), and one thing I've heard over and over again is that my hair looks SO DIFFERENT in real life,  than it does in the Chia Pet updates. (Something about how ya'll can't see how gray it is, or that it truly is long enough to comb, in the pics that had been taken inside with crappy lighting.

So, here is a pic with natural light. Enjoy the crap out of my natural "silver highlights". 

I say that like I don't love the gray.

I actually do. A lot. (And not just because I grew it myself out of my own head.) I think the steely gray is pretty sweet.

Also, as an added bonus... I thought it would be a good time to include a six week time lapse to show how much my hair has grown since I took the first Friday pic when we were in Houston last month.

It was about four weeks in that I could start combing, pulling, pushing, patting and/or by putting a hat on my head while my hair dried to force it to stay down, to give the illusion of a part and/or actual hairdo. But look! I'm there!

It's been coming in pretty fast. Not as fast as I thought it would, based on how quickly it used to grow (about an inch a month), but considering the effect chemo has had just about everywhere else... I'll take it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 4

Iiiiiiiiiiiit's Friday! ... And we all know what that means around here!

Let's not compare how last week's pic was taken at 10 PM (man alive, I look exhausted!), against this morning's 7 AM shot (but seriously, doesn't my skin look great? not even 1% sallow!).

You can't really SEE that there has been growth, but I promise that there has been. Last week, I could sort of (barely) get the top combed over to the side. Now, I live in a place where the top hairs are totally long enough to stay "done".

Yesterday, I had a coworker comment on how much she likes the style of my short hair. I just laughed and then thanked her, telling her it's just the way it's grown back in. She seemed shocked. On the one hand, this is hilarious to me. On the other, I'm pretty stoked that the hair is starting to look like an intentional, stylish, thing... and not so much like a science experiment.

I measured it this morning, just for kicks, and it's just over 1 cm. (I tried to take a pic to prove it, but the angle of the camera over my hand having to hold this super short hair against a measuring tape wasn't working for me. So, you'll just have to trust me.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Different, not less

For those of you who aren't aware, I'll just tell you point-blank... Judy is a big fan of Book TV.

I mean, huge.

Judy may even be Book TV's #1 fan. I'm not kidding you. She loves it. ... Has for years.

She stores up a lot of knowledge, watching/listening to authors talk about their non-fiction books. And, every once in a while, she'll latch onto a certain author or topic and go all in.

This spring, that author was Temple Grandin.

For real.

I'm here to tell you, as the daughter (and part time prisoner) of the woman who loves Temple Grandin, I've watched a lot of Temple YouTube videos and TED talks in the last few months.

Aaaaand... Judy is right. Temple is awesome.

A few weeks ago, we watched this awesome biopic that HBO did on the early life/education of Temple Grandin.

It's so good, you guys.

I mean, so good.

And it's free with Amazon Prime.

Check it out. It'll be two hours well spent, I promise.

The woman is truly amazing. And it's the fact that her mind works differently that's allowed her to progress so far in her chosen field. I super duper love that this woman with Autism is such an advocate for children  who also live on the spectrum.

"Different, not less." - Beautiful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I'm such a rebel

So, my doctors have told me that it's okay for me to still drink my beloved Coke (now Diet Coke, because one of the worst things cancer has done to my body... and yes, I understand the irony, considering that I have an inoperable tumor winding its way though my guts and threatening to kill me, but still, this is right up there with the worst things cancer has done to my body... is that regular soda is now sticky sweet and it makes me gaggy, so I've been relegated to the diet soda. I figure it's all good about the aspartame, since I already have the cancer.)

Anyway, as I was saying... My doctors have said that it's okay for me to still drink the soda, as long as I'm drinking a minimum of 64 oz of water a day, and a maximum of 12 oz of soda a day.

They're so cute.

Meanwhile, in the world I live in, if I can digest it, I am eating/drinking it. Which means...

Say hello to my little friend. (Also, don't worry about the weird angle of my thumb. My fingers are double jointed and my thumbs can look real special sometimes.)

This is my second 32 oz Diet Coke of the day. Both of them from McDonald's. Because I'd rather not get out of my car and walk into a gas station to buy a drink when it's 102. (Also, McD's makes the best french fries in the world. This is a no brainer.) Hello, drive-thru, I love you so!

Maybe tomorrow I'll flip the tables and guzzle water instead of caffeine, but today... I am a rebel. Maybe not a real hydrated rebel, but a rebel nonetheless. (And I did also drink two bottles of water, so it's not like I'm living on carbonated drinks full of caramel color alone.)

Monday, July 13, 2015

The last couple weeks

As you may or may not have noticed (I crack myself... of course you've noticed, seeing as how all I've been able to post in the last two weeks are pics of my Chia head), I haven't been posting a lot lately.

It's because I've had a lot going on.

You know, like going back to work. Even if it's only a couple hours a day, it's still taking a lot out of me. And not in a "this is killing me, and I can't believe I'm doing this" sort of way. I actually sort of love that I've been able to go back to work. Even if it's just for a few hours a day, there's a part of my day, part of my life, every day that, at the very least, looks "normal".

And going home for the 4th of July. Which was nothing short of awesome, and there will be a post with pics to follow.

Now that I mention those two things, I'm not entirely sure what else has been making me too tired to type.

Oh, well.

But here's what I've been thinking about today... I've learned a lot in the last couple weeks.

Such as:

My body has a limit. And that limit is way closer than I like to think it is. This doesn't mean that I have to stay home, or lie down, every day all day. But it does mean that I need to parcel out my time and spend my energy wisely. Beyond the fatigue that follows me everywhere I go these days, now my joints hurt and my feet are swollen - every day. (Gosh, I love late-onset chemo side effects. So much.) Most days, I can stand and/or walk without pain. Other days, after too many days of thinking I'm okay to keep pushing my pedal to the metal, I pay the price and have stay in bed until the swelling goes down.

I keep having opportunities to relearn the lesson that I need to sit down and put my feet up. Maybe this week it'll sink in? (I can tell you that I'm typing this from my magical bendy bed. So, that's a good start.)

I never cease to be amazed at my new limitations. My energy level limits what I can commit to on a daily/weekly basis and my uncertain future limits what I can commit to, both personally and professionally, long term. I've had two good, hard, cries in the last week over the lack of control I have over my future. And while I know that, really, no one can control their future... I have an increased awareness that my future is uncertain, and I've found that is causing me to hold back where I really think I would press forward, if not for my diagnosis. I am doing the best I can to live every day, but I won't deny that feeling strong enough to make a move to re-enter my actual life has created a higher awareness that I'm not who I was six months ago.

On the upside, it appears that the chemo has not destroyed my teeth. I had a cleaning appointment last week, and while the hygienist was quick to say that my gums are still pink and swollen (no duh), I don't have any active mouth sores, she counted exactly zero cavities, and my enamel is still intact. So, there's that. At least I still have decent teeth.

I'm so grateful that I have the strength and energy to do more than I could do, even a month ago. Sure, I am frustrated that I can't do all that I want to do, but I am better (and smarter) than I was. And I have every intention of getting as much as I can out of today, and tomorrow and the next day. Rinse and repeat. Ad nauseam. Heck, maybe I'll even blog about what I've up to. (But only after I've taken a nap. So you probably shouldn't hold your breath.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 3

Don't worry that it was after 10:00 PM before I thought to take my weekly Chia Pet Selfie and the bags under my eyes tell the tale of a very tired Cancer Girl at the end of a very long week...

While I am about 72 shades of tired right now, I am still THRILLED to be able to post this week's side-by-side. Why? Because, ladies and gentlemen, my hair is now long enough to comb.

Also, I have bangs.

Sort of.

Aaaaaaaand... maybe a little bit of a beard. (Ah, the hormonal imbalances caused by chemo. It's all so very sexy.) But I like to think that the eyelashes distract from my super fuzzy peach fuzz. (And if I'm wrong, I don't want to hear about it, pleaseandthankyou.)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 2

Here I am with this week's side-by-side.

I know, it's another with glasses and with not glasses (aka: contacts), so it's not an exact sameness of me (don't worry - from here on out, I'll be all contacts all the time, so you can see a more accurate comparison), but there's been a significant amount of growth in the last week.

It's getting thicker, and I'm starting to get some pokey little bangs going on.

Also, here's a side shot of my sweet sideburns. (For some reason, the darker and longer mysideburns get, the more I feel like this is an actual haircut and less of a science projdct.)

As it gets longer, it's becoming more unruly, which gives me hope that it's curly. (Fingers crossed!)

Monday, June 29, 2015

"My" cat

Have I told you about my cat? She's not really mine, but she thinks she is. ... Sometimes.

Judy and I have been watching her for months, Rear Window style, because there's not much else to do when one of us is living through chemo and the other of us is taking care of the chemo patient, and we can't, for the life of us, figure out who her real people are. She's very friendly and goes in and out of several apartments in my little courtyard.

Every once in a while, she's on my doorstep when I come home or she follows me up the stairs and just waltzes in like she owns the place. (I love that about cats!)

Today, I came home from work and she was lying in front of my downstairs neighbor's door. As soon as she saw me, she came running, and then proceeded to follow me home.

I used to not think cats followed people, but this crazy girl has changed my mind.

After a grueling three hours at work this morning (I know that three hours shouldn't be grueling, but I'm more tired than I've been since that day that I woke up early to be at the airport and fly halfway across the country a couple weeks ago), it was a perfect day to have a furry little friend for a few hours.

There are few things in this world that make me happy in the same way that a purring kitty does.

I know that weird little cat isn't really mine, but this afternoon, she was. ... And then, at dinner time, I opened the door and she walked right out and I got to enjoy my fiberlicious spaghetti without an animal trying to get into my lap.

I have a cat, but I don't have to feed or clean up after a cat. It's the best of both worlds, for sure!

Life is just a bowl of cherries

I'm sitting in bed this morning, watching Covert Affairs (I'm in season five, so it's almost over) and eating a bowl full of of cherries, feeling a little upside down and inside out about this day, when I thought of this old Mary Engelbreit picture.

I'm going back to work this morning. It's very part time, and I'll be doing admin projects for the CFO rather than going back to my department and working with lending. I am incredibly grateful that the bank has been so supportive of me wanting to reinstitute some normalcy in my life, and I'm looking forward to figuring out if my brain still works. (Chemo brain is the bane of my existence. It's better than it was, but I still get surprised by my memory lapses and/or the inability to find the right word(s).)

I'm excited to go back to work. I'm also a little nervous about how my body will react to getting put back on a schedule. It's going to be so great to see my work friends again on a regular basis. That said, I'm a different version of me than I was just six months ago, and I can't help but wonder if/how things will/could be the same.

Like I said, I'm feeling a little upside down and inside out. Grateful, excited, invested, anxious, concerned, curious, committed. I am all of those things, and some more that I can't quite put a finger on. (Again, with the cursed inability to articulate.) But I am full of cherries and I am full of hope, and I've got to think that's a winning combination.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 1

I've had a lot of comments on my hair growth in the last week, and today I had the thought... "What if I documented how fast it's growing by doing comparison shots every week?!"

And then I picked up my phone and took a selfie to do just that. Don't worry that I'm wearing my pink flowery robe and my glasses instead of actual clothes and my contacts here, so it's not an EXACT side-by-side.

But still... Would ya look at that?

It's darker.

And it's longer.

This time last week, I could barely grab onto the hair on the top of my head. Now, it's long enough that I can actually PULL it! ... It's very exciting. (Possibly also a little masochistic, because I yank on it about twenty times a day (uhhhh... because I can!), but mostly it's just exciting.)

My plan is to do a selfie side-by-side every Friday so all thirteen of you who read this ridiculous blog can have a visual of my new Chia hair as it comes back in. You're so welcome.

*Answers to questions I get asked all the time:

Yes, it's super soft.
I can't tell yet whether it's curly or straight.
It's very close to my original color, with maybe a little more gray mixed in.
No, I'm not shampooing it. (Some things never change, right?) But seriously, it doesn't need to be washed. It doesn't get greasy or dirty feeling. At all. If anything, my scalp is still so dry that I feel compelled to rub moisturizer into the top of my head twice a week. It's so weird.