Reality Check

I don’t know how you handle challenges but since this diagnosis I’ve become more self centered. I didn’t see it happening but all the appointments, surgery, and treatments meant that everyone’s schedule revolved around me. And pretty soon there was a lot of “Woe is me” talk… Thankfully, last week I was reminded that I’m not the center of the universe…

The first thing that happened was Matthew’s doctor appointment. I’ve talked about his dentist and how much we love her before. We still do.

Matthew needed to have a tooth fixed and the dentist wanted to get some good xrays. In the past anything beyond a gentle cleaning involved general anesthesia. She wanted to try a less involved sedation so we arrived early in the morning and she gave him some concoction that would relax him. It relaxed him, but not enough so a second dose was given. After more wait time we took Matthew into the room. He was relaxed but fear is mighty powerful and the poor guy used all his strength to keep from lying back in the chair. I was sure the dentist would call it quits but with four of us talking and holding his octopus-like arms, legs, and head we persevered. Matthew now has a shiny new tooth that he’ll gladly show you (he doesn’t remember being scared–thankfully). But as I was laying across his legs gripping his arms with the bright dentist light shining in the general direction of his face I thought, at that moment, Matthew was the center of my universe.

The second interesting thing happened on Friday when I went in for chemo. In the chair next to me was a younger woman and in the chair next to her was her sister. Each was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer one day apart last year. Both had metastasized and spread already. The sister who was closest to me leaned over and whispered how her sis nearly died several times last year. This woman, while undergoing her own surgery and therapy, managed to become caregiver for her sibling. They talked to me and assured me that all tests showed they were both beating their cancers. And as they talked I was struck by how each talked about the other, holding each other up. They were too busy worrying about and taking care of each other to become self-centered.

My own detours in the road seem minor today. Both of these incidents reminded me how much easier life’s challenges are when you focus on the needs of others. Today I’m going to make a list of how I can help someone else and then go forward.

Hair Today–Gone Tomorrow

Well, it happened as they said it would. My hair is no longer something to be styled. Sunday it began coming out in handfuls. It was more emotional than I expected so Bob and Rebecca were recruited to cut it. Rebecca chopped it off to an inch then Bob spent a half hour neatening it up. My hair has always been thick so even though I’m shedding like a scared cat there is still a lot attached to my head. I don’t think it’s actually falling out but rather breaking off at the root. Kind of creepy if you ask me. I asked the family to go ahead and pull it off but everyone is unnerved after the first handful. Still in the next couple days I expect there will be very little left. Oh, and gentle readers you are indeed fortunate the hair cutting picture was too blurry to share. Right now I look an awful lot like a short haired porcupine. Or maybe a Chinese Crested dog. In any case a scarf is in order.

I was looking forward to wearing my new stylish hats but thus far my head is too hot to wear anything but my one old silk scarf. Hot–I mentioned this to the doctor last week. “Good,” she says, “Hot flashes…” I am waking up in the night roasting but to the docs this is a sign that the medicines are doing their job. Thank goodness it’s not summer here, I would be miserable.

One thing I remembered to ask about during this last chemo treatment was whether the effects would be cumulative, getting worse each visit or stay the same. Fortunately, it sounds like each time the reactions will be similar. I don’t think the nausea was as bad this time but I hate to say anything in case it suddenly gets worse. What I can say is that the nurse gave me one more anti-nausea pill so I’m up to four choices depending on how bad or ugly it gets. I’m hoping to float through this without taking those last level pills. The nurses say I may be more tired but that is likely due to the decreased blood counts as we go along. No argument there. Thirty minutes of work and I’m ready for a break.

People ask how the rest of the family is coping. My folks were a huge blessing keeping us on track. I think I can safely say we are adjusting to this new lifestyle where the rest really pick up the slack. Bob and Rebecca make sure the clothes are washed and folded, that the kitchen is cleaned each night and both are careful to see that bathrooms and germ areas are cleaned daily. Thankfully, Rebecca is still on break as we’ve come to rely greatly on her help. We’ll have another adjustment once she goes back to school but by then we hope to have a good routine in place. Matthew, as always, likes to keep his routine and as long as it’s not him to see the doctor he’s okay. He has been much more inclined to help me and leaves his computer willingly to go for a walk every afternoon. Of course, he is more than happy to watch tv when I want a nap…as long as it’s one of his favorite shows.

Next therapy is Jan. 15th. That means I should be good for at least a week. If you’re in the area please stop by for a visit. Give me a call and I’ll be sure to have my crazy head covered. And remember not to be offended if I start yawning.