Monday, March 30, 2015

Officially frail

Sorry I've been MIA for a few days. It's because I've been sick and tired.

Yesterday was Day 9 (historically the day I come down with a bladder infection/UTI). Sure enough, late in the afternoon, the all-too-familiar burning sensation started. Rather than going to an Urgent Care on Sunday, I opted to wait until this morning and go to MD Anderson. (It's their preference to be the only people who treat me, and it was just a 12 hour delay for me.)

So, this morning, I rolled out of bed and Jude and I headed down to MD. Four hours later, after much peeing in a cup, giving blood samples, and literally being poked and prodded, we are on our way home. Armed with another mystery bacterial infection diagnosis (they blame it on the chemo, so I do, too) and a week of antibiotics, here we go into week two...

The super awesome and funny part of the day? As my sweet young nurse was doing my vitals, she looked down at me and asked if I was eating/drinking enough. (The answer: I am ALWAYS drinking enough, but the mouth sores make it hard to swallow. .... Also, Jo insists that I am eating like a bird. ... So, no, I'm probably not eating enough.)

She stopped to ask if that was normal for my blood pressure (107/77). I assured her that it was. Then she left and came back and pressed a chocolate Ensure into my hand.


And that, my friends, is when you know you're officially frail - when a nurse looks at you and then hands you an Ensure.

Officially frail, hopefully only halfway to decrepit.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Third day home

I know that I technically came home on Monday, but that was in the middle of the night, so I'm counting this as the third day home.

Status update: I am exhausted.

I may always be this tired the first week I come home, but I swear it's worse... every time.

An example of something that completely wipes me out: getting my own pills in the morning. I have roughly six bottles that I have to open to retrieve my morning meds, one of them is a child-protected prescription. By the time I've opened and closed all of the bottles, my arms are heavy (like I've done a major workout) and I can hardly breathe. I have to sit down to swallow the pills, because the act of getting ready to take the pills takes everything I've got. My blood pressure goes up, the blood leaves my brain, and I feel like I'm going to pass out.

True story.

Even now, at 2:30 in the afternoon, I'm stuck in my recliner. Do I know I'm due for a nap? Yes. Do I know I'd sleep better in my bed? Also, yes. But I feel like my queasy stomach will lose it if I move my body, so I just keep yawning and finding new things to do with the laptop on my lap.

Mouth sores... Can I just tell you how not thrilled I was when I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday (to pee... because it seems all I ever do is pee) to discover that the mouth sores had already set in? I'm taking Acyclovir as a prophylactic (suggested by my primary care doctor) and I'm literally drinking Magic Mouthwash. They haven't gotten any worse in the last three days, and I am grateful for that, but geeze... I usually get 4-5 days of eating before they pop up. Oh, well. Apparently, the side effects really do get worse, the further you get down this road.

Oh! And you can add this fun little tidbit to the tango I do with nausea control/constipation on a daily basis. I found out yesterday -overheard at MD Anderson, when I was there for my Nulasta shot - that my nausea medication of choice (zofran) causes constipation. So, I'm trying to go down on my zofran intake, in hopes that'll help my bowels reset themselves to somewhere near normal. Too bad I'm also still super gaggy from the four days of chemo. I know you have to pick your battles, but frankly, NEITHER of these stomach troubles seem like something I'd be smart to sacrifice.

Anyway... I'm three days in. I feel about the same as I did yesterday, but marginally better than I did on Tuesday. The good news about having done this twice before is that I know I do start to feel better, bit by bit. For now, I'm going to risk the puking and go walk around the pool. And then I'm putting myself straight to bed for an afternoon nap. (You'd think, with having slept a solid 12 hours last night, that I could skip naptime. Uhhhh... not so.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

And that is the answer...

I am home.


After staying an extra five hours for a unit of blood, I am home.

(And those hours? Totally worth it. I had no idea how crappy was feeling until I woke up with that new/extra blood in me. Turns out hemoglobins are a big, freaking, deal.)

And now, I'm out...   

To go home tonight, or not to go home tonight?

I was originally scheduled to go home tonight around 6:30 (that's in one hour, kids). Sadly, it appears that my hemoglobin is a little low, so the discharging doctor is ordering a unit of blood prior to my release.



While I'm quite certain that the blood will ultimately help me feel better faster, I'm still bummed that my stay has been lengthened from 6:30 to 8:30 or 9:00.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Making friends and getting presents

So, I've been here for, what... five hours now? And I've made friends with a hospital  volunteer who LOVES me. (I mean, how could she not?) She keeps going out, then coming back with prizes from the donation box for me.


Here we have: a yellow afghan that's the color of sunshine that reminded her of me, and since I can't be out in the sun, I should have this blanket, a white hat because it's such a prettry pattern, School of Rock, because it's funny and she knows I like music, and two pink hats. 

I'm sorry to say that the dark pink is a little too small for my head, and I think I'm going to have to give it back.

I love people. (Esp when they give me presents. Ha!) It's days like today that  I'm super grateful for my propensity to make strangers into friends, and quickly!

Round III

Here we go again...

I'm at the hospital, typing this as I walk into Admission.

Gulp.

There's something to be said for knowing what's coming. (Sadly, knowing what's coming also makes me want to puke. Oh, welI...)

It's another (lighter than the first time) four day round. At least I have that going for me, right?

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today

Today was just a day. An old school, "Laurie felt good enough to take a walk" day.

It was a good one.

I did the laundry, I lapped my apartment complex (twice, actually), and I drove thru Chick-fil-A and picked myself up a child's meal A and a side salad.

Now I just need to pack my sweet little hospital bag, and I'll be all ready to go to the hospital tomorrow morning.

The last four days have been awesome. I've been almost completely side-effect-free since Monday, and it has been fabulous. I've thoroughly enjoyed being not-dizzy enough that I can walk for 15-20 minutes at a time (some days, like today, more than once). It's been so great to feel well enough that I can drive myself around. I've read a book and a half in between napping and/or marathoning Person of Interest on Amazon. I made cupcakes on Monday, so I could take them to my favorite (CT) nurses on Tuesday.

People, I vacuumed this week.

It's been a good four days. I've felt better than I have in the last six weeks, and it's been... just... well... incredible, actually, to have this little bit of calm before the storm hits again this weekend.

I'm so grateful to know that the chemo is working. I still want to puke, just thinking about having to go back in for more, but it's working. And knowing that it's working will have to be enough right now. Some day (in the not so distant future, I would hope), I like to think that I'll be able to say that it was worth it. I'm not there yet, but for right now... it's working. And, at the end of four very good days, that's enough.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's results day

This morning, when I was getting dressed, I reached for my polka dot top and my black skirt. On a whim, I threw my red felt hat on my head (I'd previously been thinking of wearing pink). I took a quick look in the mirror, then decided I was sassy enough that the outfit justified wearing my black peep wedges.

I walked out the door on the way to my appointment, thinking, "Nothing too terrible can happen on a day that I'm wearing this hat and these shoes!"


And it turns out that I was right!

The results came in, and.... drum roll, please... Tumor #9 is shrinking. Halle-freakin-lujah!

He didn't go down as much as Dr. H was hoping he would (don't ask me what the good doctor's expectations were... he wouldn't tell me), but the tumor did shrink by *approximately 15%.

Which, I will take. Considering my scans this winter were showing approximately 20% growth every six weeks, the fact that two rounds of chemo not only stopped the tumor's growth, but also shrunk the size by 15%, is a serious win.

The plan for now is to do another two rounds, and then do another scan six weeks from now to see what changes have occurred. (Many people have asked and I honestly don't have an answer for, ultimately, how many rounds of chemo I'll do. As long as the tumor is still there, but shrinking, my understanding is that we'll continue on the same path. If the tumor stops shrinking, we'll move to an undisclosed Plan B. ... One of the many joys in having a rare cancer? Having a treatment plan tailored to my body's whims. Good thing I have an oncologist who's a sarcoma specialist, eh?)

Round III will start Friday. As in, in two days. 

I won't lie, my body's reaction to knowing we have another round right around the corner is to tighten up every muscle in my stomach in preparation for a serious puke-fest. But my mind's reaction is, "Now that I know it's working, I can do this." (And, as we all know, I pride myself on letting my brain overrule my body.) When it comes down to the ugly, nitty-gritty, stuff in life, as long as I can wrap my head around it, I am all in. ... And, right now, I'm so happy to know that the chemo is working that I'm more than willing to subject my body to at least two more rounds.

Gulp.

So, there you have it. The tumor is shrinking. Chemo is continuing. And I'm loving modern medicine, even if (when) it makes me want to curl up in a ball and die.

*This is an approximation. Dr. H did the math half in his head and half on his phone, muttering about how I always want to know percentages, the whole time through. Since I always want to share my info with "the whole world" (his words), he wanted to make sure I understood that the number may be closer to 14. Or maybe 16. I asked him if I was approved to use the wording "approximately 15%", and he conceded that, as long as I threw the word "approximate" in there, I had his approval to "tell the whole world" that the tumor had 15% shrinkage. So, there you have it. My tumor shrunk by approximately 15%.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's scan day


Blood work at 10:00 and then I get to start pounding barium immediately thereafter.

I'll get the results tomorrow.

And then, I'm hoping, I'll be able to go back to sleeping through the night. Because, whatever the results show, at least then I'll know what's going on inside of me and I can stop weighing any/all worst possible scenarios in my head.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wig Update #1

So...

Yesterday, I had my first skype session with my new friend wig-making friend, Merria. It was super awesome!

Since my laptop is basically a dinosaur and was created before there were cameras installed in computers, and also because I knew I was going to need another body physically present to measure my head, I went over to Jo's for the call.

Jo and Dean and Sally and Maggie and I were glued to the computer screen for almost a solid hour. It was fascinating to get to see a little bit of the backroom in a wig shop. Merria showed us what the inside of the wig looks like, the super fine lace that will line my head, and the mesh that the hair will be tied through - strand by strand. I learned that I will still be able to pull my hair into a low pony, or back in a barrette. (Hooray!) And get this, you only have to wash a wig once every three weeks. Hello! That's even better than my old 5 day rule!

Oh, and Mom... you'll be pleased (albeit very surprised, I am sure) to learn that MY HEAD IS AN AVERAGE SIZE. ... It turns out that it really was my hair that made my head appear so unspeakably large. My noggin actually measures a little on the small side of average. (Who knew?!)

Anyway... the work on the wig will start next week, and it'll take about four weeks to finish.

And the best part?! She'll be instagramming the whole process, so I can see the work as it's taking place.


I totally told her I was screen shotting her every move and would be putting it on my blog. She didn't tell me that wasn't allowed, so... I figure it's alright. Stay tuned for future pics. (It's all just so fascinating to me, and not just because it's my wig. The entire process is so precise. There are so many painstaking details, and yet... it's something that's being created, by an artist who has a vision of what it will look like in the end. It's amazing to me.)

I'm so freaking excited that the wig is actually happening (RIGHT NOW!) that I can't even tell you how happy I am.

Again, many (MANY!) thanks to all the women and children who cut their hair for me. It means more to me than I can say. Thanks for making it possible for me to get my own hair back on my head, because as much hair as I had, it wasn't enough to make a wig on my own. This is something that, literally, never would have/could have happened if I didn't have so many people who loved me enough to give me their hair. Thank you.

Friday, March 13, 2015

I had a dream

Not like Martin Luther King, Jr. (I'm not that cool.)

Rather, it was a dream that I was eating white bread. Rolls, actually. Like, an entire basket of Texas Roadhouse rolls.

It was awesome.

And then I woke up and had a half a pb&j on whole wheat for breakfast with 25 oz of water.

The good news about reality is that I can eat peanut butter again. ... The mouth sores are retreating. Huzzah!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Living the dream

When I was a kid, one of my favorite be-sneaky/amuse-myself-at-church games was to see if I could hold onto my sacrament bread until the water came. (I'm not kidding you. Instead of eating the bread when it came around, I'd hide it in my skirt until the water came, so I could sneak it into my mouth and then throw the water back like a shot. All in one smooth motion, so none of the brothers would see and get me in trouble with my parents for combining the sacramental parts that were meant to be taken separately.)

Why?

Because I loved how the bread would get all spongy in my mouth when the water soaked it. And then I could swallow it whole.

I know, I know. ... What a weird kid.

But I tell you what, all those sneaky Sundays did me some good, in that I learned a very long time ago that it's really easy to swallow water-logged bread.

So now, when my mouth sores are so bad that I can't swallow yogurt without crying, I still have a viable meal choice.

That's right. I've been having bread and water. As a meal. At least once a day. ... Pretty much all week long.

Party of one, living her childhood dream of all-you-can-swallow bread with water, right here.

It's so sad, it's funny, right?

I tell you this story for two reasons:

1. It cracks me up.

2. I feel like it illustrates why I've been MIA on the www this week. I'm tired, you guys. Real tired. And pretty sick.

While I will give that the lower doses in Round II did help with some of the side effects (hooray for blood work that came back with no anomalies this week!), I feel like some of the other side effects have been harder to kick. I'm tired-er than I was with the first round, and I've been sicker. My appetite seems to have come back (see what a steady diet of bread and water can do for a girl?), but I'm still nauseated at night. I'm tired and I'm dizzy. My feet are still killing me, which has made it harder to walk around the parking lot, like I was doing every day at the end of the second week of Round I. (Not that I want to be outside, because you should see my face. It's been red and blotchy since last weekend when the fevers hit along with the mysterious infection... and today it started to peel. No way am I exposing this brand new skin to the sun!)

Anyway, mostly this post is to say that I'm okay. I'm tired, and I'm sick, so I haven't been online much this week. But I'm still laughing (even if it's at my own self). And, hey! Last night, I found the energy to paint my fingernails. So, things are definitely looking up. ... Maybe I'll post again in the next 48, to prove it to ya'll.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Chemo Brain" is a real thing

So, I have this awesome new antibiotic that goes with the "infection" I was diagnosed with yesterday. (I have no idea what kind of infection this is. I gave a urine sample. Said sample was full of blood. - Which is gross, but not unexpected, as it's a documented/expected side effect. - I'm not sure if it's another UTI or some other matter. All I know is that I have an infection that merits a round of antibiotics for the next week. Yay for drugs that provide a false immune system! (Now, not to digress, but... On the subject of UTI's. Who goes 36 years without a UTI and then possibly contracts two UTI's within 3 weeks of each other? This girl. Thanks, Chemo. You're the best.)

Anyway, I have now been diagnosed with a condition that requires antibiotic intervention.

And this isn't just any old antibiotic. It comes with its own set of (bizarro) rules: Take every twelve hours, do not take within 2 hours of ingesting dairy or a multi-vitamin, avoid sunlight, as medication has shown an increased rate of sunburn in those taking the drug.

I AM NOT KIDDING YOU.

I took my first pill last night around 8:00. (Luckly, I had spaghetti for dinner last night, so I was void of all things dairy in my system. Oh, and the sun had gone down. So, that dosage was relatively risk-free.)

This morning, I was awake early and spent some time in bed planning out my 8:00 AM dosage. (I kid you not. I lie in bed and think about these things. ... Who's kidding who? I lie in bed and think about a lot of things these days. But this morning, I was thinking about my new pill and I was planning my breakfast around it.)

I wanted yogurt, but knew that would be bad. I wanted a bagel with cream cheese (the top half, because that's my favorite), but that would also be naughty. (Not to mention, there's not a bagel - or cream cheese - in this house.) Then my mind wandered to biscuits and gravy. ... Uh, no. White flour is the enemy right now. (Have I mentioned the constipation issues? Like pouring actual glue into my intestines would be a good idea? Please.) 

After carefully considering all of my options, I got myself up out of bed, *toddled into the kitchen, opened all six bottles that I am currently taking my morning pills out of, piled the pills on the counter and systematically downed them with my bottle of water.

Then I took my breakfast over to the recliner (I don't have children, so I can eat anything I want, anywhere I want) and sat back to enjoy my... bowl of Shredded Wheat.

That's right. I had cereal for breakfast. And it didn't dawn on me until I was sipping the milk out of the bowl that I had just done what I had been told I couldn't do.

Milk IS Dairy, Evans.

And I'd totally taken my antibiotic right before I ate.

The kicker is, I knew I couldn't have dairy. And spent a good 30 minutes in my bed, planning my breakfast, to make sure I was following the rules, before I got out of bed and "made" myself breakfast.

I'm blaming this one on chemo brain.

*Oh, and in case you're wondering why I'm toddling about these days it's a combination of being tired and dizzy aaaaaaand (drumroll, please) bone pain. The bottoms of my feet were hit yesterday with a really insane amount of pain. As in, the heels of my feet feel like I'm walking on glass, every time I put a foot down. So, needless to say, I'm justifying staying in bed a lot more often these days. Which is just as well, since if I went back to taking a walk around the pool every day, this new med might make my lily white head go fuchsia. Fast.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

One week into Round II

Okay, so... I'm one week into the second round. And here's what I have to say about it...

I DON'T LOVE IT.

It's been different than round one. The smaller doses have, I think, changed how some of the side effects have hit me. One of the sort of bummers is that I'm awake more than I was in the first week of round one, which makes me (painfully) aware of how crappy I feel. (My guess is that I felt this crappy last time, too. Only, I couldn't stay awake last time to really have any awareness of what was going on inside or around me.)

Today has been a day that I can hardly get out of bed. I'm not tired in my blood (at least, I don't think so... we'll find out next Monday), but I am flat out tired. And my throat hurts. And my head hurts. And I slept funny last night and somehow pulled a muscle in my neck that hurts every time I open my mouth to take a bite of my PB&J. (Waaaa, waaaa, waaaa.)

Today, I'm just really grateful that I have a bed that I love, and access to Hulu and Netflix in the same room as said bed.

Here are the side effects I'm currently dealing with:

The Return of the Mouth Sores 
So far, it just hurts a little to swallow... I'm hoping to keep them at this point in development, so they don't get worse and spread through my entire mouth and/or down my throat this time. I can handle a little twinge when I swallow, but I live in fear of the stabbing pain that would literally  make me cry when I'd have to force down food. Having mouth sores that render you unable to articulate well enough to carry on a conversation is sad enough, but when a girl has to cry her way through a bowl of chicken noodle soup, it's too much.

My Weirdie Skin
Remember the pic of my toes? I swear, it's just gotten worse. My entire body is covered with a film of what looks like dead skin cells that have flaked off and just need to be brushed/blown away. Uh, false. These dead skin cells aren't going anywhere. They seem to be stuck to me by a flat, clear, glue. (Basically, what I'm telling you is that my skin looks like I'm a leper and am shedding cells by the thousands. But when you touch my skin, it feels like waxed paper. Like there's some sticky substance between my actual skin and the skin cells ALL OVER MY BODY that aren't sloughing off.) I feel like I've been caught in a fly tape. It's revolting. And it's everywhere. Crusties in my eyes. Weirdness in my ears that 1,001 (or at least 7 actual) Q-tips can't get out. Whiteheads all over the tip of my nose that aren't actually whiteheads at all, but are skin cells that are just hanging on for dear life. Baaaaaah!

Nausea
And I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that all chemo patients get nausea. And I'm sure that's true. But the nausea this round is something else compared to what I had going on in the first round. In the first round, as long as I stayed medicated, I was good. I didn't puke, and I didn't feel like I was gonna. ... Not so much this time around. I live with a weird baseline of nausea these days. And it varies. Sometimes I have to stop to think about it, and then WHAM!, yep, I want to puke. Other times I have to sit completely and perfectly still and try not to even take deep breaths, because the nausea is lying in wait and all I need to do is move and I'll almost lose it. (And this is medicated. On the same dosage as last time. It's surreal!)

The Return of the Bones Aching
I had about four days reprieve there (when I was in the hospital, and one day after) where my spine didn't feel like it was going to pop right out of my body and go find itself a new owner. (Those four days were good days, btw.) So, here's what makes the bones ache... The day after chemo ends, they give me a shot of Neulasta, which stimulates the bone marrow and helps the body start to generate white blood cells. Sounds like a great idea, right? And it is... but it has a wicked side effect of making your bones HURT. Last time around, my spine started to hurt in week one, and by the end of week two, the pain in my hips and pelvis made it almost impossible to sit still. So far, it's just my spine and my shoulder blades, but oooooh myyyyy wooooord. The pain. It's indescribable. (The good news? It helps if I sit still. Which also helps with the nausea. So, that's a double win. ... Just call me Pollyanna.)

Constipation
You heard me. Con-sti-pa-tion. On chemo. (It usually makes people's bowels run in the other direction. But not my special bowels. I swear, they live and breathe just to complicate my life and make me miserable.) And, I'm sorry to say, this is probably the worst bout I've ever had. (And, not to make anyone gag, but... that's saying something.) Usually, I get constipated post-op and I know it's a combination of the pain pills and the process of healing from surgery and I can dole out the stool softeners and laxatives in a way that will offset what I know is happening inside my body. Enter Chemo and its special kind of nastiness, AND I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHAT IT HAS DONE TO ME, SO I'M JUST GUESSING AT TRYING TO REGULATE MY $&@#! SYSTEM. This entire week has been a misery. (Who's kidding who? In retrospect, last week was, too. It just wasn't this bad.) I was managing that end of my life... until I went in for round two, and whatever they pumped into me just wrecked any sort of system I'd had.

The Emotional Rollercoaster
Okay, fine... I get it. I'm tired and I don't feel great. Because I have cancer, and I'm going through chemotherapy treatments. I have, pretty much, the best excuse in the whole, wide, world. But still. You'd think I could get through at least one conversation a day without bursting into tears. I've been a Class A Crybaby since Monday. And I cannot stop. Sometimes I can predict a topic that'll make me burst into flames, but for the most part, I'll be going along, minding my own business, having a benign conversation about Harry Potter or Easter Eggs, and then WHAM! Water works. It's insane. And exhausting. I swear, we (and yeah, that was the "royal we") go through more tissues than our fair share. (But the good news is Judy's here and she buys the good ones with lotion, so my ugly white-head-y nose isn't also red and swollen and chafey.)

I mean, I'm fine. Things could be worse. (Hi. They have been worse!) And I know it. I'm super grateful for all the pre-meds and post-meds that chase my chemo bags, because I know they make my life easier than it would be without them. I'm grateful for all the OTC and prescription meds that help me keep my nausea and anxiety in check. I'm grateful for so very many drugs that allow me to manage symptoms, and my heart goes out to all the cancer patients who went before me who didn't have the blessings of chemically-enhanced living with chemo.

This is NOT easy, and it is NOT fun. But it is something that I have to do, and I know there are friends and family out there who read this blog who want to know about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not that there's much "good" in my current state of affairs, but I do what I can to find the humor ("cheep, cheep, cheep", anyone?), but then there are the days that I feel like it's important to document the ugly, too. So, today I did. Thanks for reading. And for caring. And for all the love and support and prayers that I feel coming at me constantly. I'd say that "I love ya more than my luggage", but that feels like a Pioneer Woman rip-off. (Oh, and I paid $30 at Target for my carry on. Like, 5 years ago. And refuse to replace it, even though it's literally coming apart at the seams. .... So, not much love there.) You'll just have to settle for thanks, and I love you. More than I can say.

Groupon FAIL


No, thanks, Groupon.



I'm not so much in need of your six sessions of Laser Hair Reduction for only $139. You see, I went the alternate round of spending thousands of dollars to open up a vein in my chest and have medical personnel literally pour poison right into my body over the course of several days, thereby killing ALL my hair follicles.

So, I'm good on the hair removal offer right now.

But thanks.

Maybe next time you could offer me something like painting classes, or a discount to see a live show? (Either or both of which I would be happy to redeem in several month's time, after I am approved to leave the house again.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Geronimo's got nothing on me!










That's it, kids. Twelve heads of hair. All measured and marked with the name and age of the donor, in a plastic bag labeled with the length and other particulars of the person who donated their hair.

Twelve heads of hair. TWELVE. (And I actually found out just yesterday that two more heads of cousinly hair are making their way to me from Sunny California.) The mind reels, and the heart is grateful. That so many people would want to help me achieve the goal of having a wig made with my own hair makes my heart swell.

Many thanks to the following for literally giving of themselves:

Cili Wood, Monica Peterson, Jessenia Peterson, Emily Campbell, Lisa Parris, Summer Pierce, Beth Nisar, Elly Nisar, Myra Johnson, Rachel Russell, Cylena Parks, Jeanette Allan and Kyla Allan.

Thanks to my most excellent Google-searcher-and-cousin-in-wig-maker-stalking crime (Becca, I'm talking about you!), I've found a woman in NYC who will be able to help me with my wig. Her name is Merria Dearman (click the link to go to her website). She's a real live person who helps people by creating prosthesis and wigs for men and women with medical hair loss. We've been emailing for the last week or so, and will have our first conversation tomorrow. ... After which, all that gorgeous hair will be boxed up and sent Merria's way for her to do her magic.

Obviously, fourteen heads of hair is more than I'll need for my wig. (Did you know, on average, it takes three heads of hair to make one wig? Astonishing, isn't it?! ... That said, I have the hair to make 3 or 4, possibly 5 hairpieces.) What I would love is a wig made with a sampling of all the hair that was given to me, cut for me, so I can remember my sweet friends and family members and take them with me everywhere I go. I've asked that she blend the browns as well as she can and then throw in some blond to keep the salt & pepper element I've been rocking for years. Because all the hair was donated to me, Merria has offered to mail any and all excess hair back to me, so I can make sure it gets donated. (She doesn't currently have room to store donated hair in her shop.)

I feel truly blessed and amazed at how this has all come together. There would be days that the issue of the wig maker (or lack thereof) would weigh heavy on my mind, and then there would come a calm and peaceful awareness that it was all going to work out. And... it did. Merria literally fell into my lap, through Becca's search.

In a world where there is currently very little of getting what it is that I want, there has been a way provided that I can have this thing that I very much want... my own hair back on my head. It may take weeks (and that's okay), but I have every confidence that Merria will take what is mine, and what is theirs, and blend it into a wig that will look like me.

If you'd like to read more on Merria, or find out a little more of her back story, click here to be taken to the Huffington Post article that brought her to me.

I'm so grateful, and I feel so blessed. I'm so grateful that there is enough love in my life to fill a box with hair so I won't have to purchase any filler. I feel so blessed to know that there is a plan - for all of us, in the mighty and mundane details of our lives. It is nothing short of a miracle that I was led to a person who could help me with getting this thing that I've always wanted. (Companies with call center employees, I had found. But I needed a person. And a person found her way to me. Isn't that marvelous?) 

Life is good. Even when it is hard, and the obstacles in life seem insurmountable... the miracles are there if you look for them. And for me, this wig, the selfless donations of my friends' and family's hair, this wig maker, the entire way this has all fallen together, is a miracle. 

What chemo has done to my skin

First things first - Please pardon my lack of a pinkie toenail. While I DO have something there that resembles an actual pinky nail, it is beyond my natural abilities to make it  cute. (Unlike those sweet Asians at the nail salon, who can somewhere make a double French manicure appear. Bless them and their detailed work! For real!)


Now, for the true reason for this post. See how my skin is puckery and loose? See how the skin on my third and forth toe has shriveled? Note how I suddenly have a swath of extra skin beneath my big toe. Did you see how my skin has a chalky appearance, almost like there's a fine dusting of white powder on top of my skin?

This is what's going on ALL OVER MY BODY, KIDS!

Not only has this last round of chemo wrecked the smell of my skin, I appear to have aged seven years in seven days. That film/residue is just chemo coming out of my pores. The kicker is, I sort of have to wait for it to just slough off. I can't use a louffa sponge or soap with harsh cleansers, because I could hurt/cut my skin and cause an infection, which would be worse than dealing with the skin that is grey and chalky. Bahhhhh!

Monday, March 2, 2015

So much for that...

Round I, 21 days, no puking.

Round II, day 6... let the puking commence.

Not sure if it's because I'm not sick enough to stay asleep for the 48 hours following release (this was the story of my life in the first round), or what. But I can tell you that the last 24-36 hours have been a nauseated misery, and that we just hit the first vomiting milestone in this chemo journey of my life.

I'm grateful for meds that (mostly) help me keep the food in my body INSIDE MY FREAKING body. As not awesome as this has been, I'm super grateful for all the meds that make it as easy as they can.

Nurse Brian

Please allow me to introduce Nurse Brian.

(But before we go there, there's a short back story that goes with.)

Scene: Laurie's hospital room, chemo day three

Dr. H and Nurse Brian enter. Dr. H is waving a blue glove about in his right hand, saying something like, "Don't say I never brought you anything", as he tosses the glove onto my bed.

Then H stopped and looked at Brian, and said, VERY seriously, "Whatever you do, DON'T read her blog." Nurse Brian made sort of a nervous face and said "Okay", and that was pretty much the end of that...

... Until the next time Nurse Brian had to come into my room, at which point, he was ALL about the blog. Wanting the address, asking if he really could read it, etc. Kimmie Curry was visiting at the time, we set up a fun little question/answer session so the readers could be properly introduced to Nurse Brian (aka: Hot Nurse Brian)



Nurse Brian is 35 years old.
Why, yes, that is his real hair. And you should SEE his father's hair!
Nurse Brian is from South Dakota.
He left because of the winters, did a brief stint in Vegas before coming to AZ
Nurse Brian is married and has two children, ages 2.5 And 5.5. (His wife is very into celebrating birthdays, including the half birthdays, so he always knows how old his kids are.)

If you've met Kimmie, then you know that the interview got cut short once she realized Nurse Brian was married (in her defense, he wasn't wearing his ring that day).

Her final question was whether he had an single, marriage-aged, men in his family he could contribute to the pool. (Kimmie WILL find me a husband with medical benefits, or die trying!)

Aaaaaaaaaaand, drumroll, please!

Nurse Brian does, in fact, have an eligble brother. An identacle TWIN of a brother.

Only downside (and I do mean, the ONLY downside... because their last name is CASTLE, people!)... the bro lives in South Dakota.