Archive for April, 2008

26
Apr
08

April 26, 2008

Not a lot going on the last couple weeks – I was down on the 18th with a headache that was as bad as a migraine, but was different from the way I usually experience migraines. It actually started on the night before, and kept me awake most of the night – I even took some of my left-over pain pills from the surgery, and they didn’t touch it at all. It eventually subsided to a bearable level Friday evening, but lingered through Monday, more like a tension-style headache.

This week, I worked late most nights making up the time I missed on the 18th – I have been extremely tired all week. Once I get home from work, I need to wind down, no matter how tired I am, so even though I was tired enough to want to sleep, I wasn’t sleepy. This meant that I ended up going to bed very late, and not able to sleep in much. So today I am lolling around in my sweats and slippers, reading, writing, beading, maybe napping.

Tomorrow I want to go to the Art & Elegance in Beads show at the Oregon Convention Center – I am particularly interested in finding some focal beads – typically they sit around for a while and tick around in my brain until I come up with a plan to use them – there’s not usually a specific thought process on “What am I going to do with this?”, but I’ll see something in a magazine or online, or even in person at a store, and it will trigger the thought of a particular bead I have, and I begin designing something. Sometimes, though, I just buy some beads that will go with a particular focal bead, and just sort of make something happen with them. Of course, then there are the projects for which I specifically choose a pattern and follow the supply list religiously – usually so I can learn a new technique. I have more projects than I know what to do with.

I also have a sort-of sculptural diorama project I’ve been contemplating, involving some carved animal-shaped stones that came in a surprise package I ordered from Fire Mountain Gems – I’ve gotten some strands of stone-chips to use for the project, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to use as the base of the diorama. My mother-in-law saw a shell-shaped bowl and suggested it (the theme is ocean-related), and it hit me that a plate or platter of some form would be perfect for the base. So now I have to start keeping an eye out for the perfect platter to use – I have to get out more, obviously, because I’m not going to find it just going between home and work ;-}

My weight started back down again – I’ve been really working hard, especially this week, to get back on track. It can be frustrating, when I know I’m following the plan closely, to have little movement, or even to gain a little. But so far I’ve managed not to fall into the trap of giving up when I have a bad weigh-in. My previous weigh-in was two weeks ago, and I went up; I missed the 18th because I was sick (but my weight didn’t seem to have shifted at all, at least according to my scale at home); so this week it was a pleasant surprise to find out I’d gone down 3.4 pounds for two weeks. I got an “Ooo” (an *impressed* “Ooo”) from the group when I mentioned that this had included a meal at The Melting Pot. My total lost so far is 15.4 pounds, and I’m within 2.2 pounds of my first mini-goal of losing 10%. I hope to achieve that in two weeks. This drop also meant that I had to recalculate my daily points – I was just getting used to the relatively new level of 22 points per day, and now I’m down to 20 points per day. That means I have to eat more 0 point snacks (veggies, veggies, veggies!) and really focus on planning my meals so that I don’t get taken by surprise. I could save points by giving up my half-and-half in my coffee, but I’d rather give up so many other things, except maybe chocolate. . .

Another thing I need to work on is increasing my activity. I bought the Weight Watchers pedometer that calculates how many points-worth you walk, and because my job is so sedentary (pretty much sitting in front of the computer, typing all day), I rarely even make it to the level where I start earning one point – how sad is that? I’ve been trying to get out of the office for a walk, at least when the weather is not completely uncooperative. The week before, I was very good about getting out for a walk with Robin after I got home from work, but with the late nights last week, I didn’t get out once. The office building where I work has just added a fitness room, free to the building tenants, that opens up for use on Monday, so I’m going to try to drag myself into work an hour early to see if I can get some workout time in – I am so not a morning person!

The other day, I had the odd experience of being surprised at remembering that I have had cancer. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t an ever-present background thought, or being kept as a focus of my attention through pain, fatigue, lack of hair, having to take time off for doctor appointments, or being limited in what I can do physically. What a weird feeling – getting back to “normal”.

Julie

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17
Apr
08

April 17, 2008

I met with the plastic surgeon today, and I am officially released to start lifting and working out (slowly, and with low weights to begin with) as of 4/26/08, when I can pretty much do whatever I want, including opening heavy doors. There’s still some swelling, but nothing he’s worried about. I don’t have to see him again for a couple months, then just for a routine follow-up. Hooray!

In honor of April’s 16th birthday, I am posting one of our favorite pictures of her:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

and one of her nemesis, Thanatos (who is no longer with us – I guess *she* was *his* nemesis):

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

16
Apr
08

April 16, 2008

In typical dog-mom fashion, I have to share pictures:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Isn’t he cute???

15
Apr
08

April 15, 2008

OK, so there might be several reasons for the new look of the blog.

1.  Maybe I got bored with the old look, and needed something fresh.

2.  Maybe the name of the old theme was too representative of where I was back in August last year when I started the blog: Chaotic Soul.  Life was taking a dark turn, and the choice of blog stylesheet reflected that.  The new theme name, MistyLook, reflects my new outlook on life since surviving cancer (or maybe just the fuzzy look of my newly-growing hair as it has its little party on my head. . .).

3.  Maybe I was afraid of using up all those little black pixels and not having any left when I really needed them.

4.  Maybe the representational picture is an indication that I’m now approaching life as a concrete reality, instead of an abstract concept that can be viewed differently depending on my mood.

5.  Maybe I was getting a headache from trying to read the white text on the black background.

6.  Or maybe it was just something to do on a Tuesday evening.

I don’t even know, so pick one or more, and go with it.

Julie

14
Apr
08

April 14, 2008

Friday was disappointing because my weight was up – only 0.6 pounds, but still. . .

Friday was great because we had beautiful weather, and I had to leave work early for a doctor appointment, so dang! I had to lower the convertible top. I hate it when that happens ;-}

Saturday was *hot*. I had to put the top down Saturday, too. Plus I went to a trunk show at Beads at Dusti Creek, and found some brilliant bargains, and have all sorts of new beading projects to work on. Dang.

Robin got a couple really good walks this weekend – on Saturday we went with the poodle and her mom to Bethany Lake park, and the only problem there was that it was firmly dusk coming back, so the gnats and mosquitoes were rising. We saw a miniature Australian Shepherd – I’d never heard of them before, and thought she was a puppy, but she was about three years old. Robin was intrigued, but didn’t stray from his poodle-love. On Sunday, we walked through the greenspace park north of our neighborhood (again with the poodle and her mom), and got to practice not freaking out on the busy street when cars come up from behind. We’re getting better about that ;-} Our next-door neighbor Arno, who’s around 5 or so, came over Sunday to ask if Robin could play, so they ran around the front yard, only it was hard to decide which one was chasing the other – I think they both thought they were in the lead.

I also power-washed part of the driveway – it is filthy, and had moss growing on it. It wasn’t too hard on my arms, but I realized too late that I was bending forward just slightly most of the time, and it made my back problems act up. I took an Epsom Salts bath when I came in from the yard, and I’ve been stretching and focusing on my core-strength exercises, trying to get it to clear up – I’ve also used an ice pack periodically. Unfortunately, I can’t take any anti-inflammatories, because of the blood thinner. I’ve got one month to go on that – I will be very happy to be done with the whole blood-clotting thing. But Brian gave me a nice massage last night, and that helped a lot. As long as I remember to get up and walk around periodically during the day at work, it seems to be maintaining, and not getting any worse.

Not much else to update – this was my second weekend after starting back to work, and I was not nearly as exhausted as I was on the first weekend. I still get tired, and my evenings after work consist of dinner and some reading, but I definitely see improvement in my stamina.

Interestingly, I don’t think I had a single hot flash today – either that, or I’m getting so used to them that I don’t notice them – nah, I definitely notice them!

My hair is really getting an attitude – it thinks it needs to be very curly, but it’s so short that it pokes out all over rather than laying flat. I don’t think I could get it to do this if I tried – oh, the wonders of chemotherapy! I see the plastic surgeon on Thursday for my 7-week check-up on the reconstruction. There’s still some swelling, but for the most part, I think he’s going to be ready to release me to doing whatever I feel like with lifting, etc., after one more week.

A reminder – there’s still time to join our walking team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event on May 10. We’d love to have you walk with us – the link takes you to my page where you can either sign up to walk with the team (you don’t have to be a coworker – all friends and family are welcome), donate online, or print out a form to mail a donation in. There have been several extremely generous donations, and in addition to making a donation, my employer, Schrodinger, is buying our team t-shirts for the employees who sign up to walk. I still feel a little overwhelmed by how many people are showing their support by either walking, donating, or both. Thank you all – and know that as well as my gratitude, you have the gratitude of those who benefit from the American Cancer Society’s research, even if they can’t thank you in person.

Julie

06
Apr
08

April 6, 2008

Well, it’s been a busy couple weeks since my last post.

Shortly after I posted on the 21st, I got a call that my little brother was in the hospital. I flew down to see him on Easter (after having a wonderful Easter lunch with Sharon and Gary and their family). Brian couldn’t go due to a major project he’s working on for a client, so he dropped me off at the airport with a stern injunction to NOT PICK UP my own suitcase. When I checked the bag, they weighed it in at 25 pounds – everyone I asked for help was very kind about picking it up for me – I felt guilty about just asking people, because I look very healthy (and of course, I *am* very healthy, with the caveat that overdoing the lifting could make me *unhealthy*), so I felt compelled to explain about having recently had surgery, can’t lift more than 10 pounds, etc. Apparently Brian had called his mother (with whom I was staying, rather than getting a hotel), and told her I wasn’t allowed to lift my bag, so she came out to the rental car when I arrived, and my little 83 year old mother-in-law unloaded my suitcase for me. How’s that for embarrassing?

Tim was discharged from the hospital on  the Monday after Easter, and because he was at a hospital quite a distance from his house, and they are on tight funds, I gave him a ride home. I got to briefly see my nephews and niece – they’re all so big! The oldest son still at home will turn 17 in May, and he was the only one to really recognize me – with so little hair, and since it’s been quite a while since we’ve been to visit, the younger kids had a hard time reconciling this aunt with the one that had longer hair.

I had scheduled my trip to fly home on Wednesday, because I didn’t know when Tim was going to be discharged, so I ended up having a free Tuesday to spend with Brian’s mom. At that time, I was still sleeping in the recliner at home, since my arm range of motion wouldn’t allow me to sleep with my arm in the right position to sleep in the bed – I can’t sleep on my back in bed, only on my sides – so I was sleeping in one of her recliners. We seemed to be on the same sleeping schedule, and stayed up late and slept in late on Tuesday. Then I took her shopping for some craft items she needed (she isn’t driving since her accident in November), and then we met Dani, one of my sister-in-laws on Brian’s side, for lunch. Had dinner with a group of Shirlie’s friends, and then we all played Mexican Train dominoes after.

Wednesday I flew home from Sacramento, and spent the next four days recovering from the trip. As I’ve learned, I can push as hard as I need to, but the payment comes due eventually.

This past Monday, I started back to work. I had to hit the ground running, because we’re just getting into a very busy time. With 800+ e-mails to look through, I spent Monday going through them (fortunately, most of them were either informational or ones that didn’t require action on my part), and got started dealing with the ones that *did* need my attention. The rest of the week, I was focused on getting literature and other items printed and ready to ship to our first big event of the tradeshow season. Friday afternoon I got everything packed (I didn’t pick up any of the boxes, because I’m still on the 10-pound-or-less lifting restriction) and discovered that even without lifting or even pushing the boxes around, just using the tape-gun to seal the packages was hard on me – I didn’t damage anything, but I definitely experienced some pain once I was back at my desk that afternoon.

Brian and I went out to dinner and a show on the 4th to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary (actual anniversary date = 3/29) – McCormick & Schmick’s on 1st Avenue (*wonderful* halibut with pomegranate molasses – mmm), then on to Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo”. Sharon and Gary met us there, and the show was fabulous! Of course, we’ve never been to a Cirque du Soleil show that wasn’t.

This weekend I’m totally wiped out – again, I am paying for pushing myself this past week – I had thought I might start back around 3/4-time to work, but discovered that not only did I need to work full-time due to the deadline for this tradeshow, but I also had to work extra hours just to get it done. Frankly, I’m happy to be back to work, and to be able to do my job – and I’d much rather be busy than not. But I can hardly wait until I’ve recouped enough of my normal level of health that I don’t have to spend the weekend just recovering from work. When I was younger, work used to be a way of recovering from the weekend!

After my trip to California, I weighed in on the 28th, and my weight was up 0.6 pounds. It is really hard to eat well when you’re traveling. Mostly due to the fact that you don’t always have the choice of healthy restaurants, or healthy menu items to choose from; and if someone is cooking for you, unless they’re also on-plan, they don’t know how to accommodate on-plan needs. All in all, considering that I’d also had a big Easter meal that week, I was surprised at only being up by 0.6 pounds over the previous week, although I’d hoped to be able to hold steady. This week I weighed in down 1.2 pounds, which brings my total loss so far to 13 pounds. Only 5 more pounds to go to meet my first mini-goal!

I’m in the market for another fan – the one I have been using has now broken in two places (I play with it too much when I’m not actually using it). Where does one buy these things? I have no idea – probably not in the clothes department, but maybe in the toy department? Or maybe I have to go to some place like Cost Plus (what are they called now, World Market?) or Pier 1. The hot flashes are bearable, although I would say they’re getting a little more intense than they used to be. I can usually feel them coming on, with a feeling that my face is flushing, and if I take my hat off (assuming I have one on), that is often enough to fend one off. If one is coming on when my head is bare, fanning myself seems to shorten the duration. I definitely think caffeine is one of my triggers, but there are just some things that one can’t give up and still be able to function.

There are a couple people I want to share news about – one of my friends from support group, Penny, just had surgery on the 31st, and is in the hospital recovering.  The surgery was a long one, but the doctors believe they got everything they were in after, and even took less than they thought they might have to.  Love and healing thoughts to Penny!

My physical therapist had a surprise double-bypass surgery a couple weeks ago – he is young and healthy, and had no idea he had trouble brewing in his arteries.  He is recovering well, and says that he can’t even lift as much as I can – when they crack your sternum and ribs, the weight limit is 5 pounds.  So, Tony, keep on healing, and maybe by the time we’re both released to normal activity, I’ll be able to outlift you for a week or so!

I had a bone density scan last week, of which I am awaiting the results – before the scan the technician asked what my height was, and I told her 5’3″.  She then measured me, and I came out as 5’2″.  I looked at my driver’s license after the scan, and it definitely says 5’3″.  Of course, that was from back in 1988, but I would be surprised if I really did lose 1″ of height.  As I recall, I was actually about 5′ 2-1/2″, but that it got rounded up.  Still, that would mean that I’ve lost 1/2″ of height sometime in the last . . . 20 years . . . well, when you put it like that, I guess maybe I can believe that.  I don’t know how often they’ll do a scan to compare to this base-line – the Femara has the possibility of causing bone density loss, but then, so does menopause in general.  Exercise helps, so I’m trying to get serious about a daily routine.

With my hair growing in, and only taking a daily hormone pill for the next five years, and being back to work on a full-time basis, I’m starting to feel as if life is finally getting back to normal.  Once I’m off the blood thinner, I will be as free of the medical establishment as possible as regular quarterly visits to the oncologist allows.

Whoo-hoo!




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