Who Am I?

Well, inquisitive reader, let me answer. I am a wife, a mom and I have chronic bad hair. I like made uppy words and Unnecessary Capitalization. If you know who the guy in the bottom right picture is, you're probably my best friend. Also, I own several Edward dolls which I write about HERE. No, I don't use drugs. By the way, if your love canned tomatoes, visit my stash HERE.

Friday, August 19, 2011

On losing my hair

So the day appeared.  The day I knew was coming.  The day I'd lose my hair.

It was a Tuesday.  Just a normal Tuesday.  I ran my fingers through my hair and a wad of strands lay in my hand.

It was about durn time. 

Seriously.  From the moment I was unhooked from the chemo needle I've been waiting for this.  I was beginning to think I was an anomaly, that maybe my hair would just stick there.  Because, word, I have got some thick hair.

No really.  I make hairdressers earn their money.  Every single one of them tells me how thick my hair is.

However, thick hair does not mean good hair.

No, it doesn't.

So yesterday morning, whilst showering, I happened to look down at the floor of the tub and saw copious amounts of blackish strands circling the drain.  That's when I knew.  It was time.  Time to shave it off.

I've had some time to think about it.  I admit, I was pretty emotional sitting in the oncologist's office, discussing the effects of chemo and hair loss being the most prominent.  I cried.  I won't lie.  It turns out I am very vain.  And whilst I complain about my ever chronic bad hair days, I had hair.  Hair is normal.  Bad hair is normal.

But then, my Hubs reminded me that I get the very rare opportunity to see myself bald.  I mean, who didn't wonder what they looked like sans hair when Sinead O'Connor came on the scene?  So, in that regard, I'm pretty lucky.  I also know what I look like sans nipples.

But that's another story.

So, here it is, Thursday night, and I'm perched on a chair in the middle of my bathroom, a towel draped around my shoulders to prevent hairs from attaching themselves to me.  Yeah, that really didn't work, but whatever.

My Hubs is sniffling and holding his electric shaver.  My oldest daughter, Emma, perched on the side of the tub to take pictures of me with her Daddy's iPrecious.  (Really, I think she just was there to play on the iPhone, but whatever.  She said supportive and nice things.)  My youngest daughter, Addie, fled the room.  I think watching me being scalped was upsetting to her.  I can't say I blame her.

We got the before picture, good advice from others who went through this process.  Lance discovered soon that my uber thick hair was a true match for his electric razor so he grabbed my good craft scissors and went to work.  Snip snip snip.  Many snips later, he went back to the razor.  Buzz buzz buzz.  Dang, I have a lot of hair, y'all.

Pretty soon, it was done.  There's still stubble up there, in fact, there's quite a bit of it left.  But if I run my hand along my scalp, little stubbles come away with it, so I'm pretty sure in a few weeks, I'll resemble a cue ball.  I think that'll be way better than the rough side of Velcro feel I've got going on right now.

I didn't cry.  I think it's because I did it on *my* terms.  I didn't wait for chemo to snatch my hair out from under me.

This feels empowering.  I can handle it.

And because I know that all of you will wonder what I look like, I'm going to be an awesome friend to you and share with you what I look like now.

 I've even got a wand.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chemo. The gift that keeps on giving.

So, since so many of you were clamoring for an update on Kearsie Healthwatch 2011, I thought I'd jot down a quick bloggyblog.  Ok, so there was only really one of you clamoring, but I aim to please.  So.

Chemo has begun.  I'm having my "good" week.  Which basically means that this week, all my side effects go away and I feel normal for just long enough to forget how lousy chemo is before I have to start the vicious cycle all over again.  I know.  It's kind of like menstruation.

Chemo is absolutely, 100% no fun.  I've only had one cycle thus far.  My next will be the 23rd.

Here's a quick rundown on what I went through whilst doing chemo:

*I am strapped up to the IV.  Two different nurses have to tackle this because apparently I have super strong veins that don't like to be pierced and as a result of their poking, I still have a bruise.  But that's ok because the other option is to get a port.  Poke away, nurses.  Bruises fade.

*I don't have allergic reaction to the two different chemo drugs selected for my torture:  Taxotere and Cytoxan.  But they go super slow at first, watching to see if I turn bright red or quit breathing.  This means that I sat with an IV for four hours.  No, I'm really not exaggerating.  I am glad I brought a book.

*My mouth tastes funny.  I try chewing gum and sucking on Jolly Ranchers but no dice.  Yep, this is my first side effect- my taste buds rebel against me.  This I will have to endure for 1 and 1/2 weeks.

*I am super tired.  Enter second side effect- extreme fatigue.  I go home and sleep the rest of the day.  And then half of the next day.  I will feel tired for many days.

*Nausea.  Because my name is Kearsie and this is how I roll.  Lots of nausea.  No vomiting, but many days of popping any and all nausea meds given to me in hopes that the stomach roiling goes away.  I will endure this for a week.  But I expected this, so I am not surprised.

*FIERCE HEADACHE.  It feels like ice picks are being driven through my temples.  No pain reliever completely takes it away, but thankfully, the headache fades around day 5 following chemo.  I am tough, I can take this, oh man thiskillswhereisthetylenol.....

*Hunger despite no taste.  Because of the steroids, I am starving.  I am nauseas, and have no taste buds, but I want to eat everything in sight.  Because of this, I gain 5 pounds.  I was told this could happen.  So therefore, I let myself eat ice cream straight from the carton.  The streroids are to keep me from getting a nasty rash on my arms and face.

*I break out all over my face.  It's not the rash.  It's just the regular hormones coursing through my body doing their monthly thing, only I seem to be super sensitive and respond by getting fierce acne.  Nice.  I feel 15 again.

*Joint pain, specifically in my lower back and pelvis.  This is because the day after chemo, I get a shot to boost my white blood cell count and it manifests the pain where the most bone marrow is.  I no longer feel 15, instead I feel 85.

And then, by around day 6, I feel better.  Not great, but better.  Soon, the nausea and headache and joint pain become a faded memory, and I do things like put on make up again, and clean my bathroom.  I even begin to cook again.  My face no longer holds my "I feel sick to my stomach" expression and I start walking upright again, not clutching my lower back whilst hobbling around the house.

I feel normal again.

Normal is very nice.

I'm very pleased that my phase of normal fell in the month coinciding with my two girls returning to school.  Today was their first day.  I still have my hair.  I did not stand out amongst the eighty bazillion other mothers there at school today dropping off their kids, meeting their teachers.  I feel very proud of my ability to blend in.

I will lose my hair this week.  It takes somewhere between 10-21 days to lose your hair following chemo.  And both of the medicines I have to take have hair loss as a side effect.  So I bought a hat.  No wig, because I've yet to find a place that my insurance pays for.  But it's hot outside, so maybe I won't want a wig anyway.

I also had a big talk with my girls, explaining to them that some kids might ask them questions why I am bald, or even make fun of me.  I tried to help them know what to think and say.  Here's hoping that was just a precautionary measure that won't be needed.

I was also very pleased that Emma's teacher is a two year cancer survivor, that she understands what our family is going through and will be a source of help for Emma, should she need it.

Survivors?  Are everywhere.  This is pretty cool.

So there you have it.  I'll be doing this chemo biz until mid October and then I'm done.  My IV bruises will fade.  My hair and nails will go back to growing normally.  I'll drink copious amounts of water to flush my kidneys.  I'll be ok.

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's so hot outside, it might be good to lose my hair.

At least it's not the middle of winter, yo.

So.  Chemo starts tomorrow.  I'll have four treatments.  Staggered by three weeks.  So, this sister is going to party down come mid-October.  Like, buy myself a whole bag of caramels and stash them in my underwear drawer so my kids can't have them.  Is that selfish?  Also, I did that last year so it really doesn't matter if it's selfish.  Also, the caramels will be a nice break from all the Twizzlers I've been downing.  Cannot.get.enough.Twizzlers.

My treatments are crazy long.  Like, over two hours long.  So this sister went to the library today and stocked up on young adult literature/romanctic drivels/sci-fi filled books.  Also, when I call myself "sister" I feel nunish.  Nunnish?  Nunlike?  One of those.  But like, the Whoopie Goldburg kind of nun.  As opposed to the "Climb Every Mountain" kind of nun.  Also, I hope I've not offended any nuns.

I got a phone call from an oncology nurse giving me the run down on all that will happen whilst I am on the chemo needle.  Basically?  It's this:

My body will rebel against me and everything that functions normally will not function henceforth normally and my eyesight might get fuzzy and my hearing might go dim and my joints might hurt and there might be fevers and insomnia and nausea out the wahoo and cats and dogs might marry each other and maybe California will, indeed, drop into the Pacific Ocean and maybe the Breaking Dawn movie will be as steamy as the previews go and anyways, I need to drink a lot of water to prevent urinary tract infections.

I know.  I'm so glad she called or else I wouldn't've known what to do when my body fell apart.

Meanwhile, I am applying for small loans to buy school supplies for my kids.  For real, people, as much as I love and adore buying school supplies, I'm pretty sure those kids are eating all those glue sticks for snacks and that's why I have to buy so many.  Also, I recycled that joke.  For all the new people who have just now happened upon me.  All two of you.

The squirrel keeps coming back to mock me.  So I stopped watering my plants just to spite him.  Actually, I stopped watering my plants because it was clear that:

a) these plants are never going to produce anything edible, except to the aphids
b) the squirrel will just eat everything out there and
c) I'm supremely lazy.

Also the squirrel pooped it's little squirrel poops all over my patio.

Not happy.

One might even say, unhappy.

I like not happy better.

That last sentence reads weird.

I did not find a wig yet.  Also, is it just me or is shopping for a wig as bizarre as shopping for, let's say, a new foot?  "Ooh I like this foot, it makes my leg look longer.  Maybe I'll go with the foot with the blue toenail polish.  Blue reminds me of Katy Perry.  But does it make my other foot look funny?  Also, what if it's too hot for this foot?  Alas, maybe I'll just buy a new sock."

And that's why I bought a hat.
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