Posts Tagged ‘friends

17
Aug
10

how are *you* doing?

I’ve been out of touch for so long, and wondering how my friends are doing. E-mail (home, not work) is best, or a comment on this blog.

We see the oncologist on Thursday (way too early) to decide when to resume chemo. I’ll let you know what we decide.

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08
Jul
10

I Picked up the Phone.

It. . . it was beautiful, man; it really took me back to about a month ago, which was like the last time I picked up the phone. So groovy!

And there was a person on the end of it; but not just any person, a person who hadn’t given up on me.

No guarantees about picking up the phone in the future, but I have to say that the anti-depressant appears to be doing its job.

People have been noticing the change in my voice and tone; I laughed at one of Brian’s jokes for the first time in weeks (and no, it wasn’t because they were so bad before that. . .); I got up and met him at the garage door today, which freaked out both him and the dog, it’d been so long.

Thank you to everyone who has persisted, e-mailed, visited, loved.

Especially Brian.

23
Jun
10

The Silence of the Cancer

On my little break from chemo, please don’t be surprised that I am being so quiet – only a little blogging, no phone calls or e-mails. Now that I’ve had time to quit wallowing in the cancer and its treatment, I’m wallowing in my depression. My normal depressive behavior is to do just that – withdraw and keep my feelings to myself.

Fortunately for me, I’ve got Brian here to help keep me sane.

I met with my counselor, Counselor Troi, today, and she took a lot of notes, with the end result that she doesn’t know how I’ve managed to go so long without an anti-depressant. So tomorrow I start one (sorry, the name escapes, me).

The bad news about that is that it’s going to physically depress me for a couple weeks – i.e., low energy, etc. Right in time to just about the time Dr. Medici wants me to start chemo again.

So how am I going to know if it’s working?

Also, Nurse Serenatia called today, and told me what I already knew – it’s going to take months to get back my energy to where it was – months I don’t have.

Thus ends the homily on depression for June 23, 2010.

19
Jun
10

Lunch With the Ladies

Thursday, Monica and Linda and Heather came over to have lunch with me.

Monica hit the kitchen like a storm, preheating quiche, slicing bread, prepping something or other; I set the table, and we were ready to eat.

Sausauge quiche, fresh-from-the-garden-asparagus salad, several types of fruit, bread, and who knows what else – it was all delicious!

We spent most of the time talking about work past; changes that are going on there now, and just laughing and having fun.!

Thanks for the food, fun, pep talk, and hugs – I was in need of them all. I agree, we should do it again

13
Jun
10

A Little Work Party

Last Wednesday, my friend Leah had arranged a little work-folks get-together. She came and picked me up, and then dropped me off at the door of Rock Bottom Brewery, where we met with Carrie W., Jenny, Kristin, Shi-Yi, and Wendy. Brian met us there, also, not only to say “Hi”, but as my ride home.

I enjoyed seeing and chatting with everyone, although I was pretty much wiped out after a little overp an hour. Thank you for coming, everyone who could make it; and I’m sorry some of you were either sick or had other plans already – hopefully we’ll be able to visit sometime soon.

Unless the doctor changes my chemo regimen soon, I may be completely limited to home visits, as my energy levels are so low that I sleep all night, and most of the day also. There is an open invitation to come visit, as long as it is arranged in advance; and with the caveat to please call before coming in case I’m having a bad day.

08
Jun
10

Husbands and Friends

I was still wallowing in my misery come the weekend, because one week goes just like another.

I did have some relief – my friend Sue came to visit on Thursday, and it was so good to see her. I met her in my first support group – you remember, the one where I actually was helping support, not just being supported. She was having her surgery on the Tuesday after my Friday surgery and was very worried about it. I got dressed on that Tuesday, and had Brian drive me over there while she was in pre-op so I could show her my dressings, and how quickly I was up and around. She told me once that my doing that helped her get through her surgery easier emotionally.

Her coming to visit me when I was so down was sort of the equivalent for me.

A couple friends who had planned to come by on Friday had to cancel, but we’ve rescheduled for later – as it turned out, Friday was a very physically down day for me, and I really needed to sleep, so it worked out for both of us.

By Saturday I was back into full tailspin mode again, just seeming to be unable to shake all the nasty fatigue and pain – I can lessen the pain using the pain killers, but that ups the fatigue and inability to focus, and what is a good balance one day isn’t the same the next.

Brian is becoming hyperaware of my moods (for me, sometimes it seems there’s only one, which is down; but he sees variations). He said “I’m going to call Cathy and see if she can come for a visit on Monday.” I knew then he was worried, because he was calling in the big guns.

He tried to get me to go see Prince of Persia both Saturday and Sunday, but I just physically couldn’t come up with the energy.

Monday morning, I was taking it easy expecting Cathy’s arrival around noon or so, but emotionally I was worked up to a peak again. I finally called the doctor’s office to talk to the triage nurse, and tell her I couldn’t go on this way. I mean, I had 4 months of taxol/avastin treatment, and even with the pneumonia, I never felt this bad. Heather told me that there are lots of things we can do in terms of taking breaks from chemo, from lowering the dose to changing drugs, but that this level of toxicity isn’t normal, and nobody should be trying to deal with it. As I was talking to her I realized that I’d always just answered questions about what side-effects I was having, but never really told them, except for the pain, how hard they were to deal with. Also, she said abraxane is one of the hardest drugs in the chemo regimen – I just figured that since it was similar to taxol that I must just be getting wimpier than I was when I had taxol.

Heather told me that she would make sure the doctor knew we’d had this conversation, but that I had to make sure that I talked to him about it when I saw him on next Tuesday. After I hung up, I started crying and just couldn’t stop.

By the time Cathy got to the house, I was down to just sniffles, but as soon as she got a look at me, she asked “Are you OK?”

“Oh, my nose is just runny. . . . . . and I’ve been crying.”

She just opened her arms and held me until I quit crying. Again.

Everything else we talked about was secondary to that and the goodbye hug she gave me. Sometimes, touch is the only healer.

04
Jun
10

Bad Times at We’reNot High

Not this week which is just finishing, but last week, I had an emotional crisis.

Brought on in part by my homebound state, which in itself is partly brought on by trying to get my pain management right, it also digs out parts of me that were the most pessimistic and cynical aspects of my personality for many years. No matter how long ago or how thoroughly I’ve changed from that alienated, hard-headed, angry, blameful, unhappy person that I was decades ago, there are remnants of her that lay in wait for just such a difficult time, popping up her little Alien head right in the middle of my chest, leaving a bloody mess for me to clean up.

Now being homebound is bad enough, and being whacked out (or not enough whacked out) on pain medication is worse, but add in an insidious little voice that tells me that I’m not good enough for my friends, and why would anyone bother to be in touch with someone who doesn’t bother to be in touch with them, and you’ve got three prime ingredients for emotional crisis.

It’s true that I haven’t been very good at keeping in touch, although it is hard to do when you spend a lot of time sleeping; and even more difficult when you can’t seem to get the pain meds balanced so that you’re awake enough without  being in too much pain. But the fact is that I *know* that the people who love me love me in spite of my poor communication style. Knowing that they have full lives is much more the kind of the thing that the “normal” Julie would think, or that they’re worried about overwhelming me with contact when I’m having enough trouble just getting my meds balanced, or that they’ve been meaning to call and are just no better at it than I am.

Sadly, I have to spend so much time with “Used to be Julie” who still resides in my head just for these kinds of instances, that it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge into depression and self-pity.

So that was the state I was in for most of last week. I basically told Brian that the only things keeping me living were he and the dog and cats, family, and friends – at that point, I told him, I have no purpose in life other than to be here because of them.

I’m not sure which is more pitiful – that you could read it as being that I’m just sticking around because you poor people need me; or that it is so depressing that I could believe living because of the love I have for that group is barely enough to keep me holding on.

Brian, bless him, understands me much better than anyone, and he knew that I needed to talk about it. And talk we did, around me sobbing into his shirt – I think this is the first time I’ve had a serious cry about being told I have terminal cancer. Of course I have something to be depressed about, but there’s no need for me to go creating reasons to be depressed.

One of the steps we decided on is that I need to get out of the house more often. The tricky part with this is a) choosing an activity that isn’t overwhelming or too long for the amount of energy I have (or am likely to have, when planning in advance). This weekend, we implemented this part of the plan by getting out to see a couple movies. You know, terminal cases can make anything seem profound, but does it seem like a bit much that I sobbed through the preview for the remake of The Karate Kid? I used up nearly half my allotment of kleenexes for the whole movie just on that preview alone! I managed to get the dose right to be able to stay awake and mostly comfortable in the movie theater seats; so we decided to try again and went to see Iron Man II on Monday. Again I hit the right dose. We did go out to dinner afterwards to The Old Spaghetti Factory – unfortunately my tastebuds are all whacked out from the chemo, so it was more or less a wasted effort on my part. Brian had leftovers for Tuesday, though. Just getting out helped my mood immensely.

The next biggest step to implement is for me to get over my fear of asking people for help. I’m afraid of being a burden, especially this early on in the whole process. In this particular case, help is synonomous with coming to visit. I’m going to figure out a way to set up a calendar that people can log into and put their name down for visits, but in the mean time, I am going to handle it manually.

I learned from a visit by my friend Sue yesterday that 2 hours is about my top max time – I was definitely ready for a nap by then. I’m having chemo on Tuesdays now for a while, while my Wednesdays have support group. Probably the best time to visit is either Monday afternoon/evening or Thursday afternoon/evening. Mornings are much more difficult for me, since they’re a prime time for sleeping. As long as I know in advance, though, pretty much any day but Friday is OK (Friday evening works, but morning/days don’t really).

The third step is for me to get out to visit people. Wednesdays, as mentioned is for my support group. Leah is putting together a small group for a beer after work next week – we’re keeping the list of names short so that it’s not too overwhelming. Brian is going to drive me there and home.

Hopefully between these three steps (and I really am going to try to make a better effort at keeping in touch, also), my current mood will stay improved as it is, and maybe get even better as I get into the hang of the whole crawling out of my shell thing. It’s doing so much better already that I’ve only cried about three profound things in this post.

(No, not really). . .




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