Friday, October 26, 2012

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Family, Just fun! |

Veronica, me and Christy

Outrageous Penny

Fun First
I’ve never been into dressing up for Halloween. I do enough masquerading in real life. However, my daughter and her husband always have a huge Halloween party. Costumes are mandatory. This year, I was at a loss for ideas. I took my son-in-law’s suggestion to leverage by hair situation and be a Buddhist monk. I bought a few yards of crimson fabric, rummaged for my old Buddhist paraphernalia that I actually used to use. I added a little incense.It worked. Scott has his safari guy costume he dusts off every year. Even my mother-in-law put together a great outfit accented with a T-shirt that said, “Outrageous Old Woman.”

This year, the party was bigger than last year. To my surprise, Christy let loose and was the character from Flash Dance. She recreated the famous dance with the chair and had her husband douse her with water. She wasn’t even drunk! Her neighbors danced as Milli Vanilli and the children choreographed something that could have been from Saturday Night Fever. The party is timed between the grandkids’ birthdays, so there’s also a orgy of gift opening, cake and everything birthday. Very fun.

Work and little, Rest a little, Play a little…
I have been plodding along with blood tests and IV chemo treatments that exacerbated my fatigue and chemo brain. The hardest part is feeling insecure about planning because I don’t know exactly how much energy I will have at any given point. Most of the time I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Scott and I got out to see the movie Searching for Sugar Man. It’s a documentary about a Detroit musician from the 1970s who rivaled Bob Dylan with his talent and is credited with fueling the end of apartheid in South Africa. Rumors said he was dead, but two journalists set out to find out for sure. The story is truly spectacular and portrays someone who truly was able to shed desire and live pretty peacefully. Unlike a lot of women who tear up during chick flicks, I spent the last half of the movie almost sobbing. It was that inspiring—a great message about dignity, being oneself and living in contentment. See it if you can.

Painting My Way to Publishing
I finally finished two “poem-paintings.” One has been waiting for the poem for some time. The other is the sunflower    one I showed in a previous post, but now has      the poem in it. I’m going to incorporate these into my poetry book manuscript. I’d like to get my book printed by my birthday. I think I’ll just publish it myself through Amazon. Traditional publishers keep most of the money and send you off to do your own marketing. You may as well self-publish and keep the money if you have to do all the marketing anyway.

In a recent class, I expressed in interest in painting with Gauche watercolors, which are more opaque than watercolors. My instructor suggested I do a version of a Homer Winslow painting that is a good example of using Gauche. I did it and surprised myself. (above)  I recall going to see a huge exhibit of his at the Art Institute and feeling a little like the style was very do-able. It’s not really my style, but it was fun to paint and resulted in a better piece than I expected. Cool.

Just Your Run-of-the-Mill Dental Appointment
It’s no fair that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t wipe out the possibilities of getting the flu, stubbing your toes or going to the dentist. I’m usually pretty good about the

sixth-month cleaning, but with all the immune system ups-and-downs, I haven’t seen the dentist or hygienist in over a year. My teeth have been so far down on my to-do list that my friend, Jane had to remind me that I chipped a tooth when I was in the hospital. I had totally forgotten, but I reported in my blog. So, yesterday I ventured to the dentist, who is also in Evanston. It was delig

htful to have a plain old appointment that didn’t involve surgery, poison or radiation. I’d made up my mind to skip X-rays unless I had a problem. I’ve had enough radiation to last a lifetime. That turned out not to be a problem, but a teeny cavity was discovered, so I’m back there next week. Still…just a plain old ordinary thing what doesn’t even require a scarf on my head.

The Not-so-Fun
About 10 days ago, I got the Picc line removed…YAY! I feel so much more FREEEEEEEE. The event was timely because the rubber device I use to cover it in the shower is falling apart.

Notice that the needle name starts with “jam.”

Now the “Consolidation Stage” of treatment is complete and my blood counts have left the roller coaster park for the interim. To celebrate, Dr. G had me come in for another bone marrow biopsy today. I HATE those. They promised me three milligrams of morphine, but I decided to enhance it with a Xanex and two Tylenols before I left the house. However, the drugs did almost nothing. Scott accompanied me, which was helpful. If I could still walk to the bathroom without weaving through the hallway, I’d say I’m not really out-of-it enough.

I didn’t have to wait long, which is the best thing that happened. They tell you that they go into the hip, but it is more like the top of your butt. I decided to go to my happy place. I envisioned a beautiful, rich forest with a cozy cabin. It was dusk and the cabin’s windows glowed with the fireplace inside. I imagined entering the cabin and sitting on a comfy sofa with a class of wine. Meanwhile, Dr. G is telling me the medication protocol to follow. Five pills in the morning. Five pills at night for two weeks. Sixteen pills once a week all at once. Two pills….He asks me if I got all that. I tell him, “No, I am in my happy place.” I think he just needed something to distract him from my moaning. The info would all be printed out for me anyway.

I am back in my happy place and suddenly, someone is drilling for oil outside my cabin window. I hear them hit rock. I try to imagine how great it is that they are looking for oil on my land except the house is shaking and they are hitting rock and jamming their huge pointy tool into the rock that wasn’t hurting anyone. For a moment it seems they are done, but no! They have to sample more rock and the drilling starts again. I can feel the tools scraping against the rock again and, after a few moans, I try to distract myself by looking at the fireplace, but the house is shaking and I want the drilling to stop. Suddenly, it’s over. Dr. G apologizes and promises more drugs next time.

After a few minutes of regaining my composure, I am told the results should be in on Tuesday. We all expect them to be clear.

We are sent to the pharmacy where my $3700 worth of pills are being loaded into little bottles. My insurance will reimburse me, but I have to put it on a credit card first. It’s always a nail-biter to juggle this transaction. I am told I will need to start these meds on November 5 and take them for a year. Have a purchased one of those old lady pill organizer with the days of the week on them? Why yes, I have. Now I need to peruse the list of side effects. Creepy… but then it IS Halloween season.

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2 Responses to “Friday, October 26, 2012”

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OH BABY DOLL – you are soo AMAZING! You are a roll model for a evolved human being!
60 minutes did a piece on Rodriguez – and – Ellen had seen the movie and couldn’t stop talking about it.- He played in Chicago over the summer, but I was clueless about him then. What an amazing life.
Your painting and poems are wonderful . . . let’s do a project together . . .
I have an idea . . .

I ended up with VERY few side effects. 🙂 It wasn’t a great year- but it could have been a LOT worse. The side effects are a list of what everybody who ever took the pills ever complained about… fatigue was the worst…and some muscle/joint pain. I never minded the bone marrow biopsies, but did have some times when I needed narcotics and ibuprofen for the side effect pain. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected 🙂


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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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