Monday, December 26, 2011


Hello! The winter solstice has come upon us!! I learned in high school that the winter solstice means that the sun will now progressively makes it's way closer to us. It's my glass-half-full approach to the winter blues and it has served me well for over 20 years. 

In addition to the sun moving closer to us, I (and my hubs and step-daughter) will be moving closer to the sun for 4 days between Christmas and New Year's as we embark on an adventurous family journey to Jamaica...

Yah. Jamaica-Mon.  Can you dig it? (I don't know if that last part is Jamaica-speak or just 80's, but it's fun to say).

I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a bit...umm...insecure with my pale skin, bald head, and prednisone-inflated face, neck, back, belly and butt. I have been wrestling with this issue for several weeks now. But, I realize that when it comes down to it...this vacation is about rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, vitamin D and being with my family...who love me bald, fat and pale. Everything and everyone else in Jamaica is just supplemental or scenery. Will I feel awkward the first few minutes I reveal my baldness to the other guests before dashing down the Pirate's Cove waterslide or swimming head first into the ocean? Yup. But, you know what? Meh. I'll get over it. They'll get over it (or have a lot of explaining to do to their kids...hee hee hee). And everyone will still have a great time.

On top of this insecurity...I was advised by my doctors and nurses that I should wear a mask on the plane...along  with frequent hand-washing and care with what I put in my mouth. Surgical masks on airplanes make me nostalgic for SARS and bird flu. What ever happened to those? Anyway...I will do the mask part because I don't really want anything to ruin Jamaica...but's not easy looking like a sick person when you are trying to just BE and FEEL normal!

In the past, I would have been doing everything I could in the preceding weeks to make myself look as much like a Victoria's Secret model as I could before unveiling any part of myself at a Caribbean resort. I would be trying hard to look like the most put-together Carrie Bradshaw-style traveler on the plane. I suppose my priorities have changed. And I think it's actually probably a good thing.

Anyway...we fly out in the morning...and underneath all the insecurity...I am BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS with excitement! Sun, sand, pina coladas, zip-lining, river tubing, food, fun and the vast open sky and ocean...await me. What better place is there to sit and meditate on the amazing-ness of life?

I bought my stepdaughter clip-on "mood" earrings for Christmas. She has been wearing them around all afternoon asking "What color are they"? When we say "purple", she responds with "That is because I AM SO EXCITED"!! Me too, little one, me too!!

Look out Jamaica...the DePaz's are about to tear things up!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is Nebby Even a Word?

So...the other night, one of my friends was all..."I'm talking to so and so and she is having some drama with her man"...and I found my heart beating a little faster and my ears perk up with a certain sharpness and I got a little excited and and and...I realized that I TOTALLY miss office gossip. 

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am the girl who likes to be "in the know". It is shameful, I know. But, there it is. It's not that I am walking about spewing hateful rumors and gossip about's just that...well...I am nosy. Nebby. Whatever the latest word for it is. I like to be up in dah people's bid-nezz. Not really...but well yeah...kinda...really. I just find humans to be fascinating. I like knowing what makes them so grumpy or so angry or why was so and so crying in the bathroom yesterday? And did that girl and that guy just go away for the same week of work and come back with wedding rings? Do tell. I love me some good juice.


But, whatever. It's in my DNA. I think. It must serve some biological or ecological purpose or something like that. Yeah. 

My husband is the complete opposite.  He PREFERS to know NOTHING about ANYONE. He would be happiest in a little solitary cocoon of silence (and perhaps some Beavis and Butthead and fart jokes). One of his favorite quotes (from Ron Swanson of "Parks and Recreation") is:  
"The less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am. I’m not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.”
I think, in fact, that my husband has some internal ear plug that inserts itself as soon as anyone starts to share information about their life. Likewise, he never tells anyone...ANYONE...anything. He is "THE VAULT"....which isn't a bad quality, for sure. But, as the person in my life who is most accessible to work gossip...he is completely useless for fulfilling this nebby need of mine. (Plus, I am pretty sure that he and I were married before any of his workmates even knew he was dating someone. Geesh. Share a little? Come on!)

Anyway...the point is...I miss gossip. I miss having those sort of peripheral people in my life...the work people who I just know from 9-5 and then they go home to their lives and I go home to mine. (This is not to diminish the fact that I miss my real work friends...the ones who I knew from 9-5 and then text, email, call...I miss them terribly. Way more.) But, there is something comforting about trite, innocent gossip. That "gasp" you hear when you find out that the guy from such and such department got fired for having "inappropriate relations" with the lady in so and so's department. I miss that. I need some peripheral people. Send me some gossip y'all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Information Overload

So...the last few days have been rough. Not horrible. Not intolerable. But rough. The new chemo drugs kind of kicked my butt.  At first, it put me into a zombie-like state. Then, more of a (??) state. I felt as if I ate, I slept, I ate, I slept. As soon as I had a meal, I would need to go take a nap. At times, I felt hot and sweaty. At times, nauseous and itchy. I had a mild headache. And overall, I just felt downright sad and hopeless and anxious...which we know is NOT the way I want to fight this. It's actually hard to say if I was fatigued or depressed. Apparently, it is much harder to stay positive and hopeful when you feel like poop. But regardless...I need to shake this funk off!

The good news is...I am feeling a lot better today. It could be that I just decided to feel better or maybe the worst of it has passed. At least I know what to expect now. At least I know..."this too shall pass".

I have been reading/googling a lot. Too much, I think. It mostly starts out as me trying to find survivor stories. That is innocent enough...I want facts with which to build my hope upon. But, I always stumble upon all these "I healed myself of cancer" by giving myself coffee enemas and drinking carrot juice websites and the occasional "scary statistics" websites, which haunt me to no end. I am feeling a bit confused and overwhelmed by all the cancer information that is out there. Now, I feel nervous that I am making the wrong decisions (which certainly does not help build confidence in my kill cancer campaign). What if I should have done more "doctor-shopping" before starting treatment? What if chemotherapy is a really bad idea? Are my vitamins and supplements and juicy juices going to counteract the chemo? Can visualization and prayer alone save my life?

I am so confused, people!! Information overload. It's not necessarily a good thing to have knowledge. Who do I listen to? How do I know what's right for me? Can I do chemo and try other alternative therapies? Some folks say no. But, why?


My plan is to arm myself with these questions when I see the doc this week for my second round of Gemzar (this drug, by the way, seemed to go in pretty was the Cisplatin that knocked my insides around a bit, I think). I usually go with a list questions anyway...I just think this list may be a tougher set. Or...I may be a tougher audience.

So...that's my little update. Hanging tough in tough times. Scared and confused, but digging my way out.  Your prayers and healing vibes are much appreciated right now. MUCH APPRECIATED. 

Thanks all!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why Did God Make French Fries Taste So Good and Red Beets Taste So Bad?

Today is technically Day 14 of Operation: Kill Cancer. I say "technically" because  I have sort of fallen off the wagon the last week. Ever since the juice fast, I have been slacking off. Not horribly. I haven't been binging on donuts and vodka or anything, but I haven't been juicing, journaling, walking. I have a tendency to do this. I love making a "plan". A to-do list. A schedule. I get myself pumped up. I get myself all organized. Get all my tools and resources together. And then, if I actually start the plan, I fizzle out pretty quickly. 

I am not gonna let myself off the hook that easy this time though. Just because I slacked off doesn't mean I have to abandon the whole effort. Right? I will just regroup, recommit and continue as best I can. I have decided that I do not have to be perfect at it. That is too stressful and no fun.

In all honesty, I have juiced the last two mornings and the last two mornings I have felt better than I have in a week. It makes a difference. I wonder why it is so hard to take that first do the thing that we know makes us feel better?? Where does this mindset come from? Like...I know that eating a quarter-pounder with fries and a coke will make me feel fat and bloated and disgusted with myself...but, it probably wouldn't take much arm-twisting for me to give in and eat that (oh sweet juicy burger and greasy fries and sugar-laden soft I love thee). But, it took me a week to juice some greens even though I knew it would make me feel less fat and bloated and overall just better? 

I know that exercise makes me feel better and lighter and happier...yet I can't take that first step out the door. The other day...all I wanted to do was lay in the bed, go back to sleep, cocoon and hibernate and shut the world out. I finally forced myself to do a short easy qigong exercise and bam! I was energized (which was the point of the whole exercise)! But, WHY do I have to FORCE myself to do things that I know will make me feel better?? Can someone please explain this phenomenon to me?

I think...based on conversations with friends and family...this is a normal way to be. Even devout fitness fanatics have trouble taking that first step out the door. But, it doesn't really make sense to me...why we are programmed to want the "bad" stuff and to be lazy when our bodies and minds thrive so much more when we eat the "good" stuff and move our bodies. Why did God make french fries taste so good and red beets taste so bad?

If anyone has the answers to these questions or can provide me with the "secret" to getting off my lazy bum and making the healthy lifestyle changes that I know will help  me thrive...please share. Share! 

I will be waiting for your answer from under my warm comfy covers while watching trashy TV and dreaming about french fries.

Monday, December 12, 2011

With Mixed Results Come Mixed Emotions

While my husband and I waited for the doctor this morning to come give us the results of my CT scan, I tried "quizzing" my husband for his reaction to the various result scenarios...There are no masses. The masses are the same. The masses are smaller. The masses are bigger...

What I don't think either one of us was prepared for was the scenario where some masses were smaller (resolved even!) and some masses were new and some were bigger (twice as big even...eeks). I think that both my husband and I had the same reaction to my doctor's of a blank emotionless stare. What?! How can that be?! Aren't they all the same thing?!

I eventually broke the silence by asking the most obvious question...well, which is worse and which is better?

Turns out (at least from what I understand from his explanation and my copy of the radiology report) that the pelvic mass and the lymph nodes surrounding that area are smaller. Some lymph nodes that were previously inflamed may even be "resolved" per the report. I like this news. The notsogood news is that there is a new (albeit small) mass on my liver (now a total of 3) and the largest of the 3 has doubled in size (albeit...still small) and there appear to be some more lymph nodes in the upper regions of my body that are inflamed and weren't there before. 

It's really hard to know how to react to this news. I keep saying to myself "well, at least it's not ALL worse"! But, part of me feels so disappointed. So let down. Is my positivity all in vain? Do I just look like a fool acting like I know I am going to be fine, when maybe I am not? Part of me really believed that these "things" on my liver were not the cancer at all. Now the doctor is pretty sure that is exactly what they are...which means now...I have a "stage". I have stage IV metastatic cervical cancer. (In the words of a fellow stage IV cancer survivor: "Phew...what a least it's not stage V. Ha ha.)

The plan now is to change up the drugs in my chemotherapy cocktail. The new cocktail will include Cisplatin and Gemzar. I will learn more about these in my patient education session this afternoon...time to break out the Trapper Keeper again. Sigh. The drug that made me lose my hair is being dropped from the cocktail....are you kidding me?! LOL. I will have to go more often, but I have a feeling the infusion sessions will be shorter. We will do another 3 cycles and re-scan. 

*A little side story: After breaking the news to us, my doctor said he would like to examine me. He said something about removing clothes, handed me a paper gown and left the room. Both my husband and I were still in a bit of a daze. I stripped off my pants and shoes and hopped on the table, laying the gown across my lap. My husband says "were you supposed to undress"? To which I responded "Oh God...I think so. I think he said undress. Why would he give me a gown?  But, this thing has arm holes...why do I need armholes"? Doctor walks in and laughs..."yeah, you didn't do that right, but that's ok." I guess I was supposed to undress just the top, not just the bottom. Whatever. Oops. 

Anyway...I am still processing all this and I am still telling myself "at least it's not ALL worse". I may have suffered some setbacks in this battle,  but a) I didn't completely lose this battle and b) I most certainly haven't lost the war! So, let's shake up this cocktail and forge ahead!! Nurse Lynette...bring me another round!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yeah....Juice Fasting...Notsomuch My Thing

I should really not be trusted with the whole juice fast thing. The whole point of yesterday's 24-hour juice fast (which is part of Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy lifestyle...and those of you who don't know who Kris Carr is...she is one of my wellness warrior gurus and she is AWESOME and I lurve her so so much), was to give my digestive system a break and just basically "inject" nutrients right into my tissues, making me all juicy and healthy and OM. my husband will attest...I was the opposite of OM. I was a complete and utter terroristic (I think I made that word up) wreck. If there was hair on my head, it would have been torn out. If my eyes had shooting darts coming from them, my husband would have had ninety-gadzillion holes in his body. I. HATED. EVERYTHING. My head was pounding. My belly felt queasy. My emotional stability....all time low. 

On top of this...the juice fast day coincided with my CT scan prep...which involved downing 30 gallons (really 20 oz, I think) of barium sulfate suspension within a 15-minute time frame. Once at night and once the next morning.

(*Side note: I just decided to look up barium sulfate...and did you know (according to The Wikipedia), barium sulfate is also used as a component of oil well-drilling fluid, for making green and "strobe" pyrotechnic products, and as a component of white pigment for paints?! No wonder it tastes so delicious. Hack.)

Anyway...after ingesting a large quantity of tylenol PM in hopes of blacking out and forgetting how miserable I was feeling, I went to sleep and then...I woke up early the next morning even more miserable. Only now...because of the CT scan...all that lay before me for the next several hours was no food and another 30-gallon bottle of barium  sulfate that I was to consume between 8:45 and 9 am. Suh-weet...I couldn't wait to get this day started!

Fast forward to 8:45am. I am driving to my appointment with my large bottle of well-drilling fluid in hand, singing Christmas tunes and chugging as best I could. Halfway through said bottle...ooh boy...I did not feel well. I was looking for places to pull over (just in case) and when I arrived at the doctor's office, I spent my waiting time trying to figure out the best place to vomit in front of all these other patients that would involve the least amount of attention. Thankfully...I made it through the waiting period AND the scan without upchucking...though it was really touch and go for awhile.

After the scan...I was starving. And when I say starving, I mean RAVENOUS. And when I say ravenous, I mean was was ready to eat old dirty french fry crumbs off the floor of my car. But, I am being a wellness warrior, so I left the fries alone. I passed by Krispy Kreme and McDonalds and I swung by Starbucks (I know...not really healthy but...whatever). I got myself a veggie breakfast sammich and a tall-nonfat-peppermint-mocha-hold-the-whip. And...OH MY GOD...was it the best thing I ever tasted. OM. 

But, here is the second part of why I can't be trusted on a juice fast...because then I went home and I snacked and I snacked. Mind was veggies and more veggies and some salsa and chips and and...I snacked. A lot. I totally sabotaged any healthy benefit I may have gotten from resting my digestive tract yesterday. Now, I just feel bloated and fat and uncomfortable. Doh.

I think in the future, I am going to have to skip the weekly juice fast. It's just not for me. I am sure being all "prednizoned" out, which in itself makes you fat and hungry all the time, didn't really help the fasting...but I think my emotional stability and my marriage will thank me for skipping this next time. 

Peace out and have a snack, friends!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Out with the glum. In with the fun. Yeah.

Today marks Day 7 of Operation: Kill Cancer. A whole week. I can't say I have been perfect at it. In fact, I haven't done yoga once. And I did eat a DC cupcake. I mean...who can say no to that? There's more, but why focus on my failures. I figure I aim for 95% and hit around 90% and that is better than I was doing. My insides are thanking me. Of course, my outsides are still showing the results of my new prednisone regimen, so I won't even go there. Bah. But, I am feeling pretty good about all the endeavors I have undertaken this past week. Aside from some emotional outbursts/meltdowns here and there, restlessness and lack of motivation, and one middle of the night panic attack about death, all's well.

Today, I did a juice cleanse. All green juice. All day. With some water and tea on the side. And well...many many trips to the loo. Let's just say I am juicy and well-hydrated. I think I am gonna have to switch to some soups this evening. More tea. And then...banana cream-flavored barium! Yum. Not. 

Tomorrow is my CT scan. I am not really nervous about tomorrow. I drink my sodium bicarbonate. I lay on a bed for 10 to 20 minutes. I visualize my healthy non-inflamed cancer-free insides being photographed. I go home. Then I find a gadzillion ways to enjoy the end of the week and the weekend and not fret about what the report says until I see it for myself at 8:15am Monday morning. Yeah...that is EXACTLY how all this is gonna go. 

I am now reading a book on Chakras. I think I am gonna take some time during the next 7 days to focus on one chakra per day. There are 7 "bodily" (my word) chakras and then a whole bunch more that are outside the body but still considered part of our energy system.  It's interesting stuff and after trying one of her meditations, I really did feel and flowy and balanced.  Ahhhhhhh.

I am also going to be trying out some Qigong. I am excited to learn more and see what this type of practice can do for me. I have always been interested in different holistic/energetic approaches to health...specifically ancient practices that people have thrived on for centuries upon centuries...and even though I wish I didn't have such a serious "reason" to embark on this happy to have the opportunity.

I will be sure to report back all the zen-inspiring, life-enhancing details and hopefully my own humorous take on how it all goes down cause in the end...I still want to have fun while doing this. Out with the glum, in with the fun. Yeah.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Body is a Wonderland

I started reading a new book this morning. This one is about cell-level healing. It's about how amazing our bodies are with their millions of cells and how we as humans can somehow connect spiritually with our bodies at their deepest most scientific level and heal. The body is the temple to the spirit. And stuff. Blah blah blah.

Anyway...while reading, the author asked me to stop and appreciate my body. Acknowledge it's power. Be amazed by all the things it does to keep me alive without me even knowing. So, I did. Then she asked me to stop and list 4 things that I appreciate about my body. So, I did. Here they are:
  1. I appreciate the way my body moves. Walking, skipping, jogging, dancing, gets me up and down the stairs a gadzillion times a day. Around the lake. Up a mountain. Across the pool Through the grocery store. It gets me to the refrigerator and lets me chop veggies at the counter. It gets me to the bed for a restful night of sleep. There are plenty of people in this world who don't have this simple gift of movement that I take for granted everyday. Thank you, body!
  2. I appreciate the way my brain processes my thoughts and lets me express them. Chatting with friends. Nagging my husband. Journaling. Writing this blog. Just sitting and contemplating. Telling my loved ones I love them. Pen to paper. Finger to keyboard. It's amazing how I can think (period) and how those thoughts find their way into my world. Thank you, brain!
  3. I appreciate the way my body digests and processes the things I put into it. It filters out the bad stuff and absorbs all the good. When I think about all the filtering my body had to do in its younger, wine, vodka, the occasional cig, burgers, fries,'s truly amazing the work it's done for me! And, now...all the medicines going cells having to try and discern what to use and what to throw out. My liver. My kidneys. My lymphatic system. My skin. Thank you, filtering fellas!
  4. I appreciate the way my lungs breathe and my heart beats without my ever having to think about it. All those little (but huge live-saving) processes that go on even when our minds are occupied with everything else. My breath. My heartbeat. All proof that I woke up alive today. Thank you, organs!
After I finished this little exercise...I realized that the true things that I appreciate about my my amazement...have nothing to do with what size pants I am wearing these days or how I look in the latest style of jeans or what I see when I look at my bald head in the mirror.  This, in itself, is a big change for me, I think. Yes, I am a woman, therefore, I still beat myself up about my thighs and my belly and my lack of physical fitness. But, really...when it comes down to it...I appreciate the fact that I can walk around the block (even if I sound like a broken lawn mower walking up the hill) and that my thighs can get me up and down those stairs at home, even if I can't put on my favorite jeans from last winter, and that mah belly gurgles with lovingly-prepared food, even if I almost always wish it protruded a little less fully from my body. I should BE so lucky.

Conversations with My Husband

Him: You smell like olives.
Me: Really? Like pickles?
Him: No, like olives.
Me: What exactly do olives smell like?
Him: I don't know.

How can I smell like something he doesn't know the smell of?

Conversation continued after he read the above:

Him: Hmph. I know what olives smell like. I just can't explain it.
Me: The only olives I can think of smell like pickles.
Him: No. They don't smell like pickles.
Me: Do they smell good or bad?
Him: I don't know. Hmph. You should be making fun of yourself for not knowing what olives smell like.

Deep sigh.

Him: The wreath shed pine needles all over the front entrance.
Me: Yup. 
Him: We should clean that up.
Me: Yup. Why don't you bring the vacuum downstairs with you?
Him: I didn't know the vacuum was upstairs.
Me: Do you even know where the vacuum "lives"?
Him: Of course.
Me: Where?
Him: In the closet?
Me: Which closet?
Him: The hall closet?
Me: Nope.
Him: Hmm. Then I don't know where the vacuum "lives".

How long have we lived in this house? Sigh.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Need a New "C"attitude!

Today was Day 1 of Operation: Kill Cancer. I am reluctant to use that phrase because there is nothing calm and peaceful and loving about the word "kill" (or "cancer" for that matter). But, it is what came out when I was typing the other day, so we'll stick with it for now.

Midway through Day 1, I noticed that I started off my day sort of going through the motions of my new "daily to do". Warm lemon water. Check. Neti pot. Check. Walk with dog, green juice, supplements, check, check, check. Crossing them off and not really paying much attention to what I was doing or how I was feeling. I realized, at some point, that this is totally counter-productive to the slowing down and being present and paying attention that I was aiming for. Ha ha. So, after I breezed through a swim and a follow-up pass through the sauna...I came home to get a little more focused.

*Side note: This was my first time to the pool with the bald head. I wore a swim cap...which is decidedly uncomfortable with no hair. LOL. It sucked to my scalp like a vacuum. Also, since my latest eye adventure, I can't see without my glasses. This is a very new thing for me. Just walking around at the pool "guessing" at what I was looking at. On the other hand, when I did decide to take the swim cap off (I think un-breathable latex on the head is a bad idea in a sauna), I was unable to discern any reactions from people's faces. I am not sure if this was a good or bad thing for me. Ha ha. Meh.

Anyway...when I got home, I decided it was time to sit down and get real with myself. Try some stillness, inner sanctity, find my Buddha nature what-have-you. Something like that. I am still on a learning curve here. But, I sat my arse down, wrapped myself in my new blanket and lit a candle. And then...I watched the cat.

I think that the cat has this stuff figured out. Seriously. He was mesmerized by the candle flame. He stared at it intently for at least 5 minutes. He was smiling. Just totally happy and content. He didn't appear to be thinking about the laundry that needed to be done or worrying about whether or not his heart would keep beating throughout day. He wasn't wondering if he was good enough. If he loved enough. If he was loved enough. If he gave enough at the office Christmas charity or was too selfish at the Thanksgiving table. He just was there. In it. Happy. He seems to know how to live fully every moment of his day. And not feel guilty about it! Imagine!

So...I started thinking..."How can I be more like this cat?" Of course, life's expectations of a cat are pretty low-key. We expect them to nap throughout the day and play with Christmas ornaments and bask in the sunshine without a care in the world. (To the orange cat's credit...I think this cat WOULD clean if he knew how. He always seems very interested in helping. I think he might read too, if he could, as he likes to lay on top of my books and magazines and I think I have seen him attempt to use a pen. For real. Seriously.) 

With the holidays approaching (who am I kidding...they're here), I am gonna try to be a little more like the cat. I am going to take some time to bask in the sunshine patch and stare mesmerized at the Christmas ornaments and not feel guilty for taking some carefree time to do so. (Note: Just typing this invokes guilt...we have a long way to go to being cat-like!) But, I am going to TRY...TRY to be a little more IN IT and HAPPY and CONTENT and a little less frazzled and "guilty" and stressed. I know. Easier said than done people...easier said than done. 

Here's my little holiday bucket list of things to bask in:
  • Take time to stare at the Christmas lights
  • Blast Christmas music throughout the house and get my Christmas dance on (maybe rip up some wrapping paper and ribbon a la Sid the Cat)
  • Send out blessings to my friends and family, near and far
  • Get into the giving-ness of the season and let myself get carried away
  • Zipline and tube while in Jamaica (that's right...I'm going to Jamaica this month) Sid can't do that! Sorry, lil buddy!
  • Knead and hug and rub and love on all my soft fluffy loved-filled cancer-killing gifts...blankets, quilts, prayer shawls, fluffy socks....snuggles....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Halfway There

So...Monday's chemotherapy marked my halfway point for treatment. Yay!! Since the whole thing has been pretty tolerable, it doesn't necessarily feel like a victory or that big of a deal, but I suppose it should be. My blood counts have remained stellar and my pain has been gone since the first treatment. I count myself as very lucky for all of this. Is there fear lurking beneath? Hell yes. But, my optimism reigns. And the fear that lurks is probably the impetus I need to keep myself on the straight and narrow, making lifestyle choices that will benefit me and not hinder my healing. Do I worry that despite all this, I will still not heal? Yup. That thought is there, but I am trying to learn to acknowledge that fear and let it pass and then move back to the here and now. Despite a very severe death anxiety that I have had for my whole life...I think I have come a long way in processing this stuff in the last couple of months. I am not even close to being ok with it, but I can at least allow myself to acknowledge the steps.

I have been devouring books on cancer and healing, complementary medicine, etc. and dabbling in the advice and guidance provided: nutrition, exercise, meditation, visualization, therapy, prayer, yoga, acupuncture, supplements, dry brushing, saunas, journaling, creativity, rebounding, therapeutic bubble baths. You name it. I will try it. If nothing else, it gives me a feeling of control over something and well...all of the above make me feel why the heck not do them!?

I decided to stop dabbling and go full force into this "healing plan" starting tomorrow, December 1st. Operation Kill Cancer. My diet is pretty clean now, but it will be cleaner and I plan to get myself out exercising, meditating and yoga-ing everyday. In with the green tea, out with the coffee. Lots of turmeric. Lots and lots of green juice. Water. Chewing. Gratitude. Affirmations. If nothing else, I should be all glowy and peaceful. That can't be bad. Right?

Anyway...I will have a CT scan in the next couple of weeks to take a look at my insides and see if they are moving in the right direction. I hope I hope. Everyone's generous gifts and love and encouragement has certainly been a huge blessing and a very very humbling experience for me. Deep from the bottom of my heart, I hope that when I get through all this, I can pass this love and generosity on ten-fold to those who need it. It is truly what gets me through each day. 

Love to you all!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Code-Red Estrogen Level

Well, yesterday ended the Thanksgiving break visit with my stepdaughter. I would say that on a scale of 1-100, it was at about a 97.75. Pretty successful visit overall. My stepdaughter is growing up so fast! I swear she grows by feet each time I see her and she is becoming such a sweet young lady. But, there is one thing that hit me hard this visit...

The visit did not start out very well. I mean aside from my internal rage at the traffic and being stuck in the car for like 37 bazillion hours, the transition into our home again was a little rough. 

It was late, it had been a long day, she was sleepy and all she wanted........was her Mom. Despite all of our decidedly wonderful and virtuous qualities, neither my husband nor I fit the "Mommy" bill. I'm not gonna stepdaughter can be dramatic. Dramatic--to the Nth degree--dramatic. But I could feel that night that her angst was completely authentic. I know what it is to want my Mom. Nobody else will do. You get that homesick feeling in the pit of your tummy. You know what I mean, ladies, don't you? And seeing her cry made me feel like my own heart may just burst into a million little pieces...not because I felt so helpless and inadequate (which, of course, I did) but because I am a girl with a Mom, too. I get it. And when you want your Mom...a hug and attempts at comforting from your not even close to good enough. I felt that old internal role confusion again. Where do I fit into this little girl's world? What do I do to make this better? What do I do when there really is nothing to do to make this better? And so I left her bedroom and I cried too.

So, husband had two crying ladies on his hands. The estrogen level in the house was at like Code-Red HIGH. There was an intense expression of fear on his face at not knowing what to do with all this emotional turmoil and angst. If there was a bomb shelter or panic room in our house, I am pretty sure that is where he would have fled to.

Thankfully,  a good night's rest for all of us cured our woes and we were able to move past Mommy-angst and onto celebrating the greatest holiday ever invented (with the exception of Festivus, of course).

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and found something, no matter how small, to be thankful for. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Legend Has It...

...that as a child...I was such a poor car traveler that my parents once drugged me with Dramamine to shut me up on a road trip. However, halfway through said road trip, they had to pull over and check my vitals because I was THAT comatose. They thought they may have overdone it and killed me. Imagine their initial relief at my silenced dramamined cries, followed by the panic of not being able to tell if their little girl was breathing, and then the subsequent relief again that I was alive and would not be screaming for quite some time. Ah parenting.

Today...I am still that terrible traveler. I may have toned down the screaming and crying part (though it is still happening on the inside and my husband has accused me now of making "old people noises" while car-riding). I don't know what it is. It is like being held in a straight-jacket. Tortured from the inside out. I can entertain myself here and there, but always ALWAYS the boredom sets in. The rocking-back-and-forth hysteria of being trapped. Inside a metal cage. Hurdling (or sometimes sitting still...the worst!) through space and time, but its just time being used up...faster and faster and and and getting nowhere all that fast and drives me insane!

Yesterday while traveling south to pick up my stepdaughter, I dropped my precious cell phone under the seat. It was wedged up in there and I could not get it out no matter how many different ways I tried. Move the seat front. Move the seat back. Butt up in air. Sitting up. Laying down. It was stuck. My brother offered to pull over so it could be retrieved, but...I mean...that would just be silly. Surely, I could make it without holding my cell phone in my hand for the next 30 minutes when we were scheduled to reach our destination. But...oh....the internal agony! I would be ok for 5 minutes and then I would have to go through the whole operation again. Then calm down for 5 minutes and repeat. Pathetic.

I did make it the 30 minutes without the cell phone or any other form of entertainment aside from well...the radio, my brother, the scenery, the other travelers. It was just not enough. My internal drama was enough to make Cybil look like a completely sane person.

I love to in "be other places", but the getting there and getting back part. Horrid. Is there a pill for that? A teleportation trick? Can you bring Jamaica to me?

Anyway...since I like to be other places, I suppose I will have to continue to fight the evil travel demons that live inside me...but I do not think that I will ever be that person who can just "sit back and enjoy the ride". Nope. Never.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have always been drawn to the world of self-help and personal-growth books. Send me to a library or a Barnes and Noble and you will find me in that section 99.9% of the time. You would think with all the books I own and have read on spirituality and self-esteem and what-have-you that I would pretty much have the world and my inner workings figured out. Not even close.

Anyway, one thing that I come across again and again is how having an "attitude of gratitude" is so absolutely beneficial to one's state of being. I have kept gratitude journals here and there over the years but I should do better. 

One of my best friends and I used to send each other lists of our daily *happies*. Ironically, looking back...the frequency of *happies*-sharing always occurred/occurs around times when we felt/feel least happy...but we have seen how well it much it helps to pull us out of the dregs and open us up and feed our soul on the good stuff rather than the icky. It's a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is much to be thankful for. It's an amazing trick and so simple.

I haven't shared my *happies* in awhile...and in honor of Thanksgiving and all the gratitude exercises I have seen going 'round lately on The Facebook, I thought I'd see what I could come up with. Feel free to send your *happies* to me too also seems that other people's *happies* make me happy. Happiness is in itself contagious and well...everyone could use a little extra happiness...especially around the stress of the holidays and flu season!

*I am happy for mint mocha lattes on a cold rainy day.
*I am happy for finding ladybugs in my house, in my car, at my doctor's office.
*I am happy for gummy vitamins.
* and old friends....making connections in the least expected places, in the least expected ways.
*... Sephora packages in the mail. (And a husband who just smiles and lets me buy myself a Sephora "treat" now and again.) There is one on its way today. Yay!
*... the sound of Coby's tail wagging early in the morning.
*... all the funny blogs available at my fingertips.
*... a family that is always there for me...just sitting and waiting for me to need them.
*... doctors and nurses who patiently field all my questions (I bring a new list every time).
*... hearty vegetable soup in the winter and cold crisp salad in the summer.
*... warm hugs from my husband.
*... back massages from the orange cat.
*... bubble baths.
*... pine-scented candles near the holidays.
*... green juice from my juicer.
*... clean laundry.
*... naps.
*... Parks and Recreation. Ohhh...and Modern Family.
*... Doritoes.
*... mashed potato stuffing and green bean casserole.
*... prayer shawls.

Oh my gosh....apparently, I could go on and on. See....there IS much to be thankful for and life is so much more bearable when we focus on those things. Send me yours!! It'll make you feel good...feel good...feel good....(remember  that anti-drug commercial from the 80s? I am happy for that too.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Thought About Having a Gallon of Wine with my Pizza, But I Was Too Tired to Lift the Glass...

I can't believe that in just 2 days, we will be making another trek down I-95 to pick up my stepdaughter! It seems like it was just yesterday that we dropped her off...not that I am complaining. Just surprised at the speed of time sometimes!

Her last visit was a short one. Picked her up Thursday evening and took her back Sunday afternoon. But, we managed to pack A LOT of non-stop action into that short time! OK...I was in bed by 8pm every night...but we still did a good amount of schtuff!

And, now that I say that...I am thinking..."what did we do"? So, I may have forgotten a lot in the last week. Ha.

My husband went off to work on Friday leaving us alone (and we all know how well I do alone with a child). Said child had been advised that there would be no TV, which meant extra work and no TV for stepmom too. Sigh. So much for that parenting strategy. LOL. We walked the dog, visited the playground and oh yeah...made smoothies, which contained blended pieces of a silicone spatula because I didn't heed the warning "Do not place objects in moving blades." Oops. 

I did allow her some time on the wii while I made some calls, cleaned the silicone mess out of the kitchen and got myself in order.  Then....RAKING! I am so excited about this part is my experience...trying to get a child to do something that is actually productive is like...umm...impossible. But, I learned that the prospect of a) leaf-diving and b) post-leaf-diving-hot-cocoa, make a child a magician with a rake! And it ended up being fun for me too...kinda. I mean...the "old me" would have been far too serious to take a running leap into a pile of dirty leaves. But, the me who just came face to face with her own mortality/"life is short, make it count" attitude...said..."what the heck" and ran full force into the mess. (Hmm...that could be an excellent metaphor for life right there).

After lunch and hot cocoa...we had a play date with my one and only local friend and her same-age daughter! Thank goodness for tag-teaming and well...8 year-olds that can entertain themselves. About 10 minutes after arriving, the electricity went out. What?! Are you serious?! This adds a whole new dimension to the art of self-entertainment. Sigh. 

Thankfully, some neighbor kids invited the girls out to play in the street. (Ha ha..."Girls...go play in the street!") Seriously though, it was a cul de sac, so safe from traffic. The "funny" part of this is that well...we know how flustered I get with one friend, while way less flustered than me...can also feel overwhelmed when multitasking kids...and somehow, the 2 of us ended up the cul de sac...being encircled like a school of sharks by 6 kids using 2 pogo-sticks, 3 bikes, 4 scooters and I don't know what other physically dangerous contraptions...but I was scared. Scared, I tell you! one lost an eye or a finger. There wasn't even any blood. Phew...after that was pizza and bed. I thought about having about a gallon of wine with my pizza, but I was too tired to lift the glass.

Saturday, we embarked as a family on a metro ride and visit to the Air and Space museum! Despite the fact that this was a popular Saturday destination, it was decidedly an excellent and fun choice. We did drop a load (I can hear my husband saying "heh. you said load.") on the simulator rides that were a little...umm...BOHRING. But, oh and learn. We also dropped a load at the museum cafeteria where they were not-so-subtly pushing McDonald's food. Hmph.

Anyway...later at home we watched How to Train Your Dragon (no...not How to "Drain" Your Dragon as one of my friends suggested) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (which I loved so so so much). This movie really brought back middle school memories. Things that horrified me in the 6th grade that I can kinda sorta laugh at now. Kinda. Sorta. Note to self: Must re-watch this with my bestie. 

All in all, it was a really good visit. I survived. She survived. Mind you...I spent a week in the hospital after the visit, but I mean...who's keeping score?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Uncondensed Version of the Medical Adventures of the Week (Part Deux)

I hadn't realized how bad I made things sound in my Part One blog post. It hasn't been a party exactly, but really it's not so bad. I am in a ward where people are in way way worse shape than me, so I feel quite fortunate despite my not-fun tests, blue vomit, noisy roommates and such. continue...things have become much less eventful since Tuesday afternoon's spinal tap.

  • Tuesday night: My family headed home and my roommate was moved to her own private room. Giving me a temporarily private room myself. By the way, because of her surgery, she had a swallowing problem and they had her on a feeding tube. She hated it and was begging for real food, but she had to "pass" a swallowing test first. I overheard one of her docs tell her to practice for the test and one thing to practice was to stick her tongue out and swallow. I have been attempting this skill for days now and I cannot do it. Seriously. Is this a normal thing one should be able to do?
  • I "think" I got a little sleep Tuesday night. And if you followed my status updates on The Facebook, you will see that I made note that I still had my "private room" at 2:50 am Wednesday morning. 3:10 am Wednesday morning, my new roommate and her husband arrived. They are wonderful and very apologetic, but also need a lot of attention. She had her spine replaced (or something like that) and had been immobile. Apparently, the surgery was relatively short, but she was in recovery for NINE hours afterward puking and unable to tolerate any pain medications. Suddenly, my spinal tap seems like a walk in the park. I feel bad complaining about any soreness.  And...seriously...can you imagine puking with a swollen non-moving spine?? Oww.
  • Wednesday: My big adventure for Wednesday included 2 trips to see my neuro-ophthalmologist at the eye clinic. Oh...and a shower. Woo hoo. At the eye clinic, I saw my MRI. My brain is pretty...umm...unremarkable. LOL. I mean...its huge and obviously very healthy and smart. There is no evidence of tumors or lesions. Just the obvious swollen optic nerve. There is something on my spine that is "questionable" (I couldn't see it and actually neither could my eye's that small), but they are doing more tests for MS and/or some other systemic autoimmune disorder just to be on the safe side. Not gonna stress about it. For now anyway. The disheartening news, which is also mostly vanity, is that I will have to again be on the high dose prednisone for awhile.  This, of all things, made me cry. 
  • While waiting to be transported back to my room, another patient who had also been tearful walked over to me and put her had on my shoulder and said "God knows and he will take care of you". It was odd and awkward, but also touched me in a deep and profound way. Perfect strangers can be amazing.
  • The rest of Wednesday was pretty uneventful. I spend some time roaming the halls with another patient, whose name I don't know. He has been here for awhile and walks day and night. The nurses gave him his own coffee mug for the coffee machine since he pretty much lives here. He will also be released on Friday, but starts radiation for a spinal tumor tomorrow as well. Nice man.
  • Today is Thursday: It was another long night of being awakened by nurses (for my roommate) and beeping machines. I feel bad because I think I kept my roommate and her daughter awake with my snoring when I did sleep, which made me feel ashamed and mortified. Ha ha.  My husband came in for an early visit and they let me leave the ward (by foot!) and have breakfast with him in the cafeteria. What a treat!
  • I saw a group of neurologists this afternoon (they travel together at these teaching hospitals) who told me that I would be discharged tomorrow after my last infusion. They were impressed by my smart questions (she says with a puffed out chest of pride) and referred me for follow up with a neurologist who specializes in nerve inflammation because it will be a few days before all my test results are back. Basically, they have not ruled out MS or the cancer in my spinal fluid...(but everyone feels that the cancer part is really really unlikely.) There is a very good possibility that this is just another episode of some crazy immune reaction that just happens to plague me for no known reason other than me being a freak.  Just especially un-fun timing. If this is karma, I am sorry for whatever horrible thing I did in a past life! I swear! No swearing is bad. just sorry. LOL.
  • I am. I should be outta here within the next 24 hours and back at home with my husband and my own bed and life and quietude. Yesssssss. My vision improves with each infusion and while I am not happy about the prospect of fat face/bald head, I know this is really all part of my lesson in perspective and life that I am supposed to be learning. Or something like that. Right?
Thanks to everyone who has reached out to me this week and in the past weeks as I journey through this medical labyrinth.  When I reach the center I know I will have made it because of everyone's love and support.

By the way....nurses are utterly amazing. They have to remain cheerful and upbeat with cranky whiny demanding patients all day and all night. Not only do they tend to medical needs, but also clean up bodily fluids and provide food and drink delivery. They take the time to answer questions, reassure, chit chat about mundane and gossipy things, laugh and joke, provide local restaurant recommendations, rub your back when you puke and stroke your shoulder when you cry and happily run from room to room prioritizing patient needs and wants. I am not sure I could ever be this patient and loving to strangers. Kudos to all nurses and techs and helpers and CNAs etc etc. Amahzing balls!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Uncondensed Version of the Medical Adventures of the Week (Part One)

So...I posted a condensed version of my week thus far on The Facebook, but thought I'd give a blog post a shot. I also want to post about my stepdaughter's visit, but that will be next.

The timeline of my medical events and adventures this week:
  • Sunday: My husband and I returned my stepdaughter to her mother at the midway dropping off point in VA. I had been having pain behind my right eye for a few days and was trying to control it with vicodin and motrin and large doses of DENIAL. The frustrating part of this pain was that a) I "knew" what it was and b) it was happening in the OTHER eye. The "good" eye. Son-of-a!! (If you don't know the back story...I have struggled with what the medical community is calling an idiopathic (as in "we are too stupid to figure out was is causing it") optic neuritis (or inflammation of the nerve behind my eye). My journey with prednisone (the only thing that seems to keep it under control) is documented--> here.
  • Monday: By Monday morning, the pain was so severe that I was walking around with my eyes closed and when my eyes were open I could only see out of my left eye. I had an appointment scheduled for Wednesday with my neuro-ophthalmologist and kept debating if I should tough it out or take immediate action. I debated ALL day and by 3pm was headed to the Hopkins ER (the only immediate way to get seen by neuro-ophthalmology before Wednesday morning). Thankfully, my doc had let the ER know that I was coming and expedited my way through the triage area. They even triaged me before the lady with chest pains and a puke bucket brought in by lifeline, which made me feel both terrible and like a rock star. Karma hit me back pretty hard later though.
  • Monday night: Between triage and admittance into an actual room, we saw about 14 different doctors/nurses/hospital staff, all of who told us a slightly different story. The gist was that I would be moved temporarily to the ER "observation" area. I would have an MRI and once the Neurology department reviewed the MRI, they would have to "accept" me for admission where I would receive 5 days of IV steroids. (*Side note: I found several "dark and curlies" on my ER bed. Ewwwww.)
  • Monday night continued: Karma sets in. From the ER, they took me to the MRI area. Unfortunately, the combination of severe pain/headache, no food, ER dark and curly sightings, and bumping along in a wheelchair caused some serious and ill-timed (pun intended) nausea. After approximately 3 seconds in the waiting area, I excused myself to hurl in the bathroom while the MRI tech waited. Next, they strapped me in with face mask and all and slid me into the MRI machine for one set of pictures. Three minutes later, they pulled me out to give me a shot of morphine. I asked to be untied and to sit up and then was handed a bucket and began puking with an audience of three. Sweet. Conversation included "Hmm...I have never seen vomit that color before." It was smurf blue. I aim to be unique. Needless to say...the MRI did not happen that night (its never a good idea to strap a vomiting patient flat on their back in a tight little tube.) I was moved to the "observation arena".
  • In the observation arena, I was seen by a neurologist. I had to excuse myself to puke in the bathroom and while puking, he yelled his questions at me through the door. At one point he said "What happens when you take penicillin"? I coughed out "I throw up"! But he couldn't understand if I was saying I was throwing up or if I said that penicillin makes me throw up. Sigh. Then he proceeded with a full on neuro exam...including what appeared to be an attempted make-out session in which he looked so closely in my eyes that his cheeks touched my cheeks. I then grabbed a bucket and puked some more while the doctor and my husband watched. Fun. I had my first IV steroid infusion around 11pm. My IV leaked everywhere. Eww.
  • I finally got admitted and moved to a room in the "penthouse" aka neurology ward at about 1am. I am pretty sure that I didn't get any sleep as my roommate was having a rough night. She had a brain tumor removed and was really struggling in a lot of ways. She rang the nurse bell approximately every 45 seconds and at one point advised the nurse she had been "incontinent" but then stated "I guess I had to do more than pass gas". LOL. Poor thing. They finally gave me some working anti-nausea meds and I was feeling much much better. The penthouse is nice. 
  • Tuesday: I got up bright and early at 5am....actually, I think this is when the "sharting" incident happened. And, let's face it. There is no resting after that. I patiently waited for 2 hours to call my mommy. Shortly after that, I had my MRI...which somehow had me gone for 3 hours from my room. Mind you...I missed dinner and now breakfast. Hello? Feed me! My Mom, Dad and Brother arrived around 11ish and we all ate lunch together in my room (I was advised that I couldn't leave the "ward"). Sigh.
  • Later Tuesday: I was advised I would be having a spinal tap. In fetal position. In my bed. I was not happy about this. By this time, I have learned to always request ativan before any tests. I do not think ativan did anything to shake my fear. I requested a floroscope (where they use an xray to find the spot to "tap" rather that just pushing on your back and guessing). They said "protocol to first try a bedside puncture". I held my mommy's hand the whole time and probably squeezed all the blood out of it. I was in pain with just the local anesthetic needles. They were having a lot of trouble and at one point I had shooting pain down my hip and leg. I lost it. Scared the bejeebles out of me. There they are....telling me to hold still and I am trying to breathe and not cry. I was unsuccessful. Somehow as they were pulling the needle out, they got the right "spot". I then lay for a good 10 minutes while they sucked 20 ccs of spinal fluid out of my holed-filled back.  After that, I had to stay flat on my back for 2 hours...just in time for the dinner plate delivery...come on!?  Seriously!?
Wow...I have been writing forever and this is uber long. I think I will finish this up on a Part Deux tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lost and Searching

So...back in August, I wrote a blog post about feeling kind of "lost" and "disoriented" as I entered this new phase of adulthood...that phase being marriage, stepmotherhood and relocating for the benefit of my spouse's career and happiness and our family's financial stability. You beyond just Vashni.

When I met my husband, I was 34, independent, knee-deep in forging a "career" in "something" (I have never been very good at knowing what I want), and fairly happy being single and able to live my life for me.  My husband knows all too well how difficult it was for me to let someone into my well-established me-oriented world, but he was ever so persistent at breaking down those walls that I had spent many a year building around my safe little haven of Vashni-hood. I recall at some point in our courtship realizing that for, perhaps, the first time in my life...I was in a relationship in which I could fully be myself. Vashni was still here and this man seemed to like her and I wasn't pretending to be someone else to win his love. I was me. And he liked me. Whoa. I guess that is when I was ok to let this thing unfold and let my life mesh with someone else's.

Then I got married. And I got very confused. I suddenly felt this "need" to be something or someone that I wasn't. I felt like I had to be this great wife, housekeeper, stepmother, domestic diva/goddess, etc. Granted this was my expectation of myself, not my husband's. I brought this identity crisis on all by lonesome...though, I suppose, there have been plenty of moments I have wanted to and probably have laid the blame on him. It's not his fault. It's my own doing. But, anyway...somewhere between "I do" and the present moment...I really lost my sense of self.

Then we moved. And even though we discussed this beforehand and I was on board and excited for change, I started to feel even more lost and confused and kind of...powerless (?). I left my job, which while I complained a great deal about said job...I really did find a lot of satisfaction in it. I was "going places" in the company. I was valued and appreciated. And now...I lost that on top of everything else I felt so lost and confused about.

There is a point to this whole schpeel, I promise. I was reading back in my journal from the days shortly after we moved. During the time when we had 3 of us in a 1-bedroom apartment to be exact. During the time when I was definitely not handling this change well at all. And in my journal I wrote "This is killing me! Soon there will be nothing of ME left." Wow. How prophetic of me. Ha. 

The nugget here that I am getting that some part of me feels that my reaction to all this sense of loss of The Vashni...somehow contributed to the actual dis-ease that has planted itself in my body. I know I cannot hold myself responsible for "getting cancer". That is silly. But, I keep reading about all these cancer survivors who also got cancer after going through major life change. Of course, not everyone going through major life change gets cancer, but seriously...there is a trend. There is some connection to the way we handle life's stressors that affects our body's ability to fight off these rogue cells. But, I am that same manner...there has to be some connection in how I handle this diagnosis that will contribute to my healing and surviving. Yes..I lost my sense of self and my sacred personal power (how ironic that my tumor is in my sacral space) but perhaps finding myself again and my purpose and my Vashni-mojo will help me heal and bring me back to life. Back from the brink of "soon there will be nothing of ME left" to "here I am"!

And so...the quest new life purpose right now is to find Vashni again. We already know that Vashni is not her hair (LOL) and Vashni is not a domestic goddess (let's just be real and stop pretending). Vashni is a writer (I love to write and I thank you all for your positive affirmations about my writing). Vashni is a fighter. Vashni is good enough just the way she is and so are you, my friends. Don't ever let anyone (or yourself) make you feel any different!

One last thing I want to say today...just to be clear. My husband has been nothing but supportive. He is allowing me the space to heal and grow no matter how bizarre the approach I try. While there have been times that I have surely insinuated that this disappearance of the Vashni is all his fault, I truly know that it is not. We made these decisions together and in the best interest of our lives and futures. And in the same way that he didn't break me, he can't fix me. I am really glad though that he is here to be by my side while I work on fixing myself (along with doctors, therapists, alternative healers, besties and family, etc). Hopefully, when all this is over and I am feeling all whole again, our relationship will be stronger than ever. I know it will. It already is.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Bald is the new black! "

I'm not gonna lie. Being bald is not so bad. It has its perks. 
  1. No fighting with my hair morning, noon and night.
  2. No more cleaning hair out of the shower drain.
  3. I don't need to bother with expensive hair products and appliances.
  4. I can give myself scalp massages without any barrier of fluff in between.
  5. I no longer get hair stuck on my lip-glossed lips. Or in my mascara-ed eyelashes.
  6. I have way more time to spend on perfecting my makeup when getting ready.
  7. I can use the money I would spend on hair products and services on new makeup and other indulgences.
  8. I don't have to stress about "breaking up" with my hairdresser. It's obvious why I don't need one right now.
  9. No worries about those pesky gray hairs popping up. (Though I am fearful it will ALL grow back gray....LOL!) 
  10. I no longer have to apologize to my family for hairs found in their dinner. Eww. It happens!
  11. No sweaty, frizzy hair after any form of exercise.
  12. No winter hair static.
  13. I can put stickers on my head.
  14. I can scare little children. 
  15. I now look like a perfect combination of my mom and my dad. Ha. 
It's been...uh...interesting getting used to having no hair. Even after a week, I don't think my brain has grasped the full concept I find myself surprised at my reflection and I sometimes catch myself trying to "play with" my hair. I haven't had the wig on my head for more than 5 minutes. It feels like a helmet. It feels fake. I can't "play with" the wig hair or tuck it behind my ears or pull it up in a messy bun. Still...I am debating wearing it to pick up my stepdaughter this week. 

When I leave the house, I wear a headscarf or a hat. At home, I walk around bald as the day I was born and I love it. I am waiting for that moment when I forget to put something on my head as I walk to the mailbox or take the trash out and get "caught" by a neighbor.

During a yoga class this weekend, I took my head scarf off. Mind you...I was in a room of cancer patients, survivors and caretakers...but I think I spent the entire first half of the class thinking "Oh my God, I am bald. My head is bare. People can see me." (I spent the second half of the class thinking "I am starving. When is this gonna be over? When is lunch?" Some things never change.) Later, during lunch, one of my classmates said to me..."When you took your scarf off...I thought you looked....completely normal. Like you meant to be that cool."

My husband wants to draw Charlie Brown expression lines on my head. I am not for this idea. But, I do appreciate his...umm...appreciation (??) of my bare skull. I have worried that it's unattractive to him to see me so bald, but it seems I have nothing to worry about. I now know for sure he sees me for what's on the inside...under that barren scalp. That's a pretty good feeling to have...and I suppose it could be #16 on the list....or maybe #1.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October: In Like a Lioness. Out Like a Sheared Lamb.

I told my husband of my planned blog title and he chuckled at the sheer cheesiness of it. But, you know what...I AM cheesy and I like it!

So, I decided to end the month of October 2011 by shaving every last bit of hair off of my (thankfully) normal-shaped head. Too be quite honest, I do not think any of my hairs were actually still attached to my scalp...they were just being held in by other hairs and perhaps hairspray and dirt. Each time I ran my fingers through my hair, piles of it were coming out. If I dared to run a brush or comb through it...or (as I did on Sunday) a flat iron...I had even more hair attached to the styling apparatus than my head. Ha. And my scalp had this strange "prickly" it kinda hurt, but not really and I have no way to explain it. It was just a weird feeling.

I spent the entire day trying to get myself pumped up. I was quite successful at the getting pumped up part. But, as I stood there last night, with the clippers in my hand, I had that feeling of "once I start this, there is no going back". Finally, my husband, who was right there cheering me on and assisting me said "Just do it"! And, so I did. 

At first, I did all the clipping, while my husband took photos (pictures to follow). Of course, my hands can only reach so far and I ended with a sort of "extreme mullet". We still had some people ringing our doorbell for trick or treat and it was very tempting to go answer with this new look. But, husband and I just stood in the bathroom and laughed at me. My hubs finished the back and then after some warm water soaking, we attempted to close-shave it with a ladies bic razor. Thinking now that a more expensive professional razor may have worked better, but oh well. We did the best we could. I asked my husband during this process "did you ever think you would be shaving your wife's head?" "" It is impossible not to bond and be closer going through this "event" together.

Today...I am still adjusting.  Putting on a scarf or a hat here and there and then taking it off and walking around in all my baldness. The dog was a bit confused when he first saw me and even appeared to hide behind my husband, but he seems adjusted now.  

Anyway...I was thinking about know...its Autumn and the leaves are changing and starting to fall. The trees will be barren throughout the Winter. And in the Spring, new blossoms will take place and everything will become alive and beautiful. I see my hair this way. I am just following along with nature. During my winter treatments, my head will stay barren (though I have the option of decorating it however I please). Come spring, when my treatments end, my hair will start blossoming and growing in. New growth. New beginnings. And so it goes.

The Before Shot

The Tool and the Liquid Courage

The First Cut

The Floor

The Extreme Mullet

What My Husband Did to the Back of My Head

The Floor Again

The End Result (well this is actually before the close-shave)