Good Mood Energy
I was in the best mood with good energy, because the kids are coming for Labor Day. All 4! Heidi & Jamie and Scott & Chali! With their crazy school and work schedules and living in Austin and New Orleans, we've only had all 6 of us together one time, in 2 years.
So I was in good spirits and I was doing too much. Besides getting the house ready, I was trying to finish my project, reorganizing my workroom. My sister called when I was taking a break. She laughed, because she knows my technique. It's a bad one. I pull it all out. Every closet every drawer. Teaching supplies and art materials and props that go back over 30 years. Things were flying to trash, recycling and Goodwill piles. But I was feeling good and my nurse called and said my blood count had shot up. I was in good shape.
Then my phone rang, again. Actually it wasn't this black phone. That's just one of the many props I tripped over trying to get through the mess to my cell. I missed the call, but my hairdresser left a text. "Hi, Beth. Just wanting to know if you needed your hair done. I have an opening next week."
It hit a nerve. 3 months ago, I was sort of frantic when I called G. "Is there anyway you could squeeze me in tomorrow?" She'd done my hair for 15 years, so I felt comfortable telling her I just found out I was having a surgery and I wasn't sure what was happening after that. The next day I headed in for my appointment. I hoped G. wouldn't get too emotional. I knew there would be a big hug waiting and some consoling. But when I walked in, she beamed. "Hey what's up!" I stared blankly. "What's wrong?" She asked as if I'd insulted her. "I have cancer, G." I felt annoyed having to remind her.
So I guess G's text was just reminder that I (and my cancer) am not on the forefront of everyone's mind. I get that. I'm guilty of forgetting important happenings in the lives of others. But it still made me mad. I texted back a quick answer. "Nope. I don't have hair." Yes, that was a mean way to remind her. But I was worn out from taking on too much. My giddy mood was zapped along with my energy. I started fretting over seeing the kids for the first time, since losing hair. What should I put on my head to soften my greeting? The wig is still a jolt... think.
And then I remembered, everyone's coming to have fun, not to see me bald. We're going to be playing games and barbecuing and playing ukuleles and making tiki drinks and swimming! I can use my awesome, retro bathing cap! Plus, I still have lashes and brows, I'm not that different. I can't wait!
I don't ordinarily wear much makeup, but when I wear none, I look sort of ill. So I guess that means more make up now. I've been warned about the yellowing of skin tones... "Your bronzer will be your new best friend." I'm going to try to get some tips on using special products, for when I lose lashes and brows. That's actually scarier than losing my head hair... because I can't hide my face under a wig.
So I put in some practice time, when I knew I could handle the humiliation. Luckily I could see the humor happening in my bathroom, or it would have been incredibly depressing.
I pulled out the special brow kit and the good eyeliner that I was told to buy. I was quickly reminded of 2 issues. First, I have horrible eyelids and second, I can't see. If only I'd known I was going to be dealing with cancer this time last year, I could have gotten tattoo eyeliner!
Even in high school productions the "makeup team" didn't want to do my makeup because of my tricky eyes. And now with aging eyes, there are so many more layers of lid! Even with the magni-mirror, I couldn't focus without my reading glasses. I attempted to draw a line on my upper lid and the result was comical. It looked almost as goofy as the crooked Joan Crawford brows I created using the stencil, wax and powder. I even tried to take a selfie with my eyes closed, so I could study where I'd gone wrong. Sorry, those photos have been deleted.
I think I'd feel more comfortable putting on clown makeup. With my new head, I could really look the part. I've been thinking about my friend, Jenny. We were birthday party clowns when we were teens.
Maybe I could revisit that short career. Then I thought about a clown my family spotted a few years ago. He was casually applying his makeup on a park bench. He wasn't young, yet he didn't seem to strain to see what he was doing.
One More Solution
Today I spent time cleaning out loads of old teaching supplies, props and costumes.
I ran across these paper masks that Don and I posed with, 30 years ago. Maybe I'll hold onto these, just in case.
I tried to find a use for my hair clippings. I thought about giving my hair to some animals for nesting. But that seemed cruel to let a hamster make a nest with my chemo hair.
The internet said hair clippings are good for the garden... mulch. That seemed a little gross. I guess I'm glad that there are no oil spills in the area, but my hair could have been helpful. Evidently it's good for sopping up spilled oil.
So I put my hair in a decorated bag and stapled it shut and tossed it in the trash. It may seem odd that I kept that hair for over a week. (Actually I forgot about it) But it sure made for a no-big-deal-good-bye-hair-event. It's a good reminder that it takes time to be comfortable with things. Or without certain things...
I've been "staying in" like a good patient for a week. I'm slowly getting my work room organized. This is a huge task and I'm taking long breaks. I need to get some bins to organize the stuff that I am keeping. I'm craving a trip to Target.
A while ago, I got a call from the person who oversees me, in the "study" that I'm involved in. She got results from yesterday's blood work and my white blood count is very low. That's no surprise since that was expected on Day 7. But she wants to have the nurse come by the house to draw blood tomorrow. That's no fair, since tomorrow was supposed to be free. She advised me against Target trips.
Okay, Target can wait. I do like knowing that someone is keeping an eye on my health.
Being in a medical drug study, I have to have blood drawn after each chemo. That's fine if you have a nurse named Augusta, who greets with smiles and hugs and and distracting chatter. After Round 1, Augusta came to my house 12 days in a row.
Today I had a different nurse. That's okay, because Augusta warned me that she couldn't be there. But my new nurse seemed... well, new. Of course she was a trained nurse, but I had to show her which table we use and where the sink was and where the box is that holds the materials needed for the study. I had to introduce her to my veins and she did not compliment them, like other nurses. She studied my veins way too long and that got me worried. And she didn't say "Okay, take a deep breath..." like Augusta does. Of course I can do that without prompting, so I did. And I also said, "Ouch!" I have never said "Ouch" to Augusta. It was the first time it actually hurt and I felt like a little kid, which made me feel so very sad for all the young kids who are dealing with cancer and needles and procedures and hurting. And that thought makes me feel sad for the parents of those young children...
But, at least I don't have to do the 12 day thing. Only 4 visits after each treatment now. I really can be a big girl about this.
I need to feel useful, so I've been using my "energy days" to clear stuff out. It's not easy, because I'm a hoarder with a purpose. I have a lot of junk, but I use it. In my work with Senior folks and kids, I use tons of theme related props. It's the silly stuff that I cart to my groups, that helps me motivate and inspire. I'm not sure I could encourage the same amount of laughter and discussion in my groups, without my junk.
So, how do I thin out my hat collection, when there are hats I might actually use for myself, now?
In this photo, there's a super-silly patchwork hat (near the Russian fur hat) that I'm wearing right now.
I went through a number of boxes and pulled out my collection of chiffon scarves, that I use to get kids dancing, when I add a little music.
Some have acquired holes, so I tossed the bad ones. That didn't exactly free up tons of closet space.
Then I ran across the motherlode of retro silk scarves. I've collected these over the years from my mother-in-law's basement to Goodwill.
I use them for creative movement, too. But the kids like the "see-thru" chiffon better and they tend to fight over these. I started to put all 30 in the Goodwill pile.
I looked through the whole collection and they were all keepers! I washed them in the washing machine and they all survived. I wore this paisley one right on my head and if felt pretty darn comfy.
It even felt like I had some silky hair on my neck. For my photo op, I put on my half wig, with bangs this time. I am spending a ridiculous amount of time messing with my appearance.
Day 4 of chemo was my rough one again. I didn't write anything yesterday, but I did get myself up and ready for my nurse to draw blood. She said I'm doing great compared to her other patients... but she also agreed with me that my eyes looked puffy. It's hard enough when you feel like you're made of lead, but add no hair and puffy eyes and it's hard to be cheery.
But I had the best surprise in the mail on Day 3! Heidi sent me a fun head covering! I've been watching some wonderful old classics with Joan Crawford and other glam stars. I've been admiring their creative headwear! And when I opened the package and found this wonderful, comfy head covering, I was so delighted and touched! It even had a little sparkle in the material!
So, before I was dragged down to my most sluggish low of the day, I snapped a pic for Heidi! I grabbed the earrings off Betty-Lou, the wig stand. I swiped the fur piece and glasses from the dress-up box. (Yes, I have one) And my photo op for Heidi, gave me a laugh and a lift... before hitting the couch!
Well, I sort of do, because who doesn't like a boost of energy? But my 3 day meds for anti-nausea have steroids and the meds are messing with my sleep! The first night after Chemo #2, I was awake at 3 and up at 4, watching a 1930's Sonja Henie movie. I thought her skating moves would lull me to sleep, but no.
So yesterday, I did fine with a few hours of sleep because my steroids were keeping me going. (Or am I just imagining this?) After dinner, I wanted to go to bed early and get caught up, but Jerry Lewis was on TCM and he was going from Buck-toothed Goof-ball to Obnoxious Suave Guy in "The Absent Minded Professor." This movie used to crack me up as a kid and I was glued until after 10. I was amused, but I was also determined to figure out who the "suave guy" reminded me of. It finally dawned on me that there was a little Donald Trump going on. I'm serious, it was an odd thing to watch!
So by the time I crawled in bed, I was wound up by Jerry. I did take the sleep med, my doc gave me, but still had patchy sleep. Awake an hour, asleep an hour...
I woke, ready to do a little weeding, then swimming and then I soaked in the tub like a diva. I am wearing a bandana today and no make-up. I feel fine, but I won't be answering my door!
Who Wears it Better?
By Tuesday, I had experienced 5 days of life with no hair. But I just wasn't able to make myself walk out the door in this wig. In fact, I was getting downright jealous of my decorated wig stand, Betty-Lou. She was rockin' the wig, so much better than me!
I couldn't get it on right. It was too poofy. It felt like it was going to blow off. And I felt like a Dallas Housewife. Except maybe the wig needed more volume to pull that off.
So after I returned from chemo yesterday, I called Anita, at Salon Prive and she'd had a cancelation. She was the recommended stylist who can work wig miracles, when it's right on your head. So, I tossed that wig on and put on big sunglasses to hide. I told Don to wish me luck that I didn't arrive and find a stylist with big poofy Texas hair.
Anita's purple hair could have worried some, but I loved it. She was confident and swift as she thinned and trimmed. (I'd been told she worked like Edward Scissorhands!)
She didn't take too much off... because it obviously won't grow back. But I can go for another trim later, if I want. Mostly I loved her relaxed, yet no nonsense approach. She loved seeing the photos on my cell, of Don cutting my hair... as well as my snazzy wig stand photo.
My expression looks goofy, but I felt more at home in my wig, when we finished. I had a few bangs, that will be a comfort when/if I lose eyebrows and lashes. She even trimmed up my half wig that goes under hats.
And best of all, I can return as my hair starts to grow back. Anita is not just a wig stylist, most of her clients have hair. She also has lots of tricks for helping with new hair growth and finding flattering short hair cuts that will work. Whew, one more thing to check off my list!
In preparation for my second round of chemo, Don once again picked a fun shirt. It's his way of making the atmosphere cheerier. Last time he chose a southwestern tee that for some reason makes me laugh and this time he announced he was wearing his hula shirt from Goodwill. (Look closely at the bottom half)
I must have been feeling peppy because of the steroids in my anti-nausea meds, because I suddenly found myself grabbing a lei and my flowered cap and my Hawaiian shawl before we left the house.
The staff and nurses thought we were pretty festive and we got quite a few compliments. "I don't think we've ever had anyone come in themed clothes for chemo!"
Keeping it Quiet
But by the time we made it into the chemo room, we were glad we'd left our ukuleles at home. The patients around me were not having a good time.
One woman was having a bad reaction and was being moved to a hospital room. Others were sleeping. We had to keep it quiet and save the partying for home. We did quietly fill out a Mad-Lib page with "Chemo Room" themed words. Thought about leaving the sheet for the nurses to enjoy. But they were busy and might not have appreciated it.
Don left to get us some snacks and when he returned he had to snap this photo to show me just what I looked like. I had no idea I looked that crazy. But it was cold and I had to cover with that shawl or skirt or whatever it is!
We were only there 4 hours today... only 2 hours were for chemo. Once again, I left feeling relieved that I'd had no issues or discomfort like so many of the others. I wish I could have shared some of my luck. I so hope my luck continues.
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast CANCER and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. This time it was the invasion of COVID and it affected every person. I ranted for a year, until I got my COVID vaccine in March 2021.
CORONARY Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was my hubby Don, who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!
Navigating This Mess!
The most recent post is at the top, from coronary posts in 2022, back to cancer posts in 2016.
To find past posts, look below the "Archives" section, to find "Categories".