There’s an Xbox in My Van Trunk

It usually makes me laugh, my forgetfulness. But the other day, I could not remember something important, I almost cried.

You see, I took my son’s Xbox and locked it in the van so he could not get it out. For what reason? I could not remember days later. Embarrassed and frustrated, I asked Paul. I knew I did it to discipline my child but what, why, how, and how long do I keep it from him? Teary eyed, I was really trying to recall, but I couldn’t. Chemo brain forgetfulness is not always funny.

Paul reminded me that I did it because my son has trouble getting up on time for school. I suspected he played games late at night so I took the console away. That was just a few days ago. Perhaps I should write down in my planner why I did what I did for moments like this.

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Breast Cancer Diaries

Trailer

I had my last neupogen shot this chemo round. My blood pressure reads normal, my pulse not too fast, and my shortness of breath seized. What more? My stomach calmed down. I haven’t heard about my stool test yet but I feel good now. After my shot, I picked up a few groceries–organic milk, almond chocolate milk, Greek yogurt, organic hot dog buns, and hot dogs. OK, I gotta have hot dogs once in a while. It has been two months since I had them last.

Then I tried to pick up the CDs I put on hold at the local library. Only, they were not there. I found out, I put them on hold via online to another library across town. My chemo brain. So I had to drive there and was surprised they were all in DVD format, not CDs that I can listen to while I do chores or drive. My goodness. I watched one while I unpack the groceries and prepare dinner. Have you seen Breast Cancer Diaries? I like her–Ann Murray. She is so much like me as far as her moods, and being true to her feelings. I could see how she tried to balance family life and be models to her kids without hiding the fact that like a normal woman, behind smiles and humor, she gets emotional too. One day she’s smiling pretty with a wig, another time she looks like a bald cancer patient with a serious look on her face.

Speaking of pretty, Cheryl Ungar, the photographer made me feel beautiful when she took pictures of me last month. Please see the link on a blog about me and other women touched by breast cancer.

Back to Work

 

One of several pictures Cheryl took of me and my family. My dog, Snowball, tried to steal the show, sneaking in a number of shots.

I survived my going back to work after two and a half months of staying home on medical leave. A little rusty, I started my first shift getting locked out of the computer system trying to get in with wrong passwords. Does it start with an A or a C? How long is it? I could not remember. Later, I recalled I wrote it down somewhere so I finally could open patients’ charts and begin my evening. My chemo brain.

 

The first two hours of listening to sounds and alarms of different pitch and frequencies gave me a headache which was quickly relieved with food I ate from the potluck. This potluck I did not know about. Nobody notified me so I could contribute. Apparently, my coworkers put this together because it was another coworkers last evening working nights and my first day of work. How nice! We had crunchy green salad, chips and layered cheesy dip, mint cupcakes, two other cakes, and nutty ice cream. Good thing I brought some lactaid pills with me. My lactose intolerant tummy did not have to suffer after the feast.

 

Coworkers gave me their warm-hugs WELCOME. It felt good to be back the first three evenings. I feel strong as ever as these days fall on my best days before another round of chemo. Tonight I will start another three shifts in a row, and then my chemo morning follows without rest from work. I expect to sleep through the whole visit. At least, I don’t have to watch the toxic chemo run though my vein.

 

Paul will try to get a day off from his new job to go with me. My good friend Roxanne plans to come along too. I might have two support people going with me and watch me sleep. Ha-ha.

 

I received my photographs on CD from Cheryl Ungar Photography. Cheryl is a breast cancer survivor herself who owns the Wedding Pink. Every month, she takes complimentary pictures of three patients or survivors in my area to make women like me feel special. On her side is Natosha Cooke, the make up artist who applied my make-up at no cost. God bless these generous women for taking time with me and my family.

 

Someday, I will give back somehow to the community of cancer patients. Maybe I will knit hats for bald patients going through chemotherapy? I can knit hats on my spare time.

 

I Feel Good

These past weekdays, I had trouble with everything tasting like metal.

Good bye metallic taste. Hello, sunshine! The dark clouds from the weekdays left. It looks bright yellow outside. I started the day picking up dogs’ poops in my front yard. Shh…I was told I am not supposed to do that. Germs, you know?

Bone pain, fatigue, nausea, nose bleed, and metallic taste in my mouth left me for good this second chemo round. I have felt great since yesterday. I bought a humidifier to ease the dry feeling in my nose and prevent nose bleed. I think it’s working. I awakened with no nose bleed this morning. I also tried Biotene toothpaste for dry mouth. My mouth does not feel like it’s lined with sandpaper today. Thank goodness. I hate that feeling. It might have taken away the metallic taste too because I enjoyed the meringue cookies this morning so much. It tastes like the meringue cookies I devoured as a child.

The general dryness on my fingers, nails, and feet got better too. I find that frequent “lotioning” of my hands is a must especially because I wash my hands more often now. With my severe, callous full and flaky feet, good old petroleum jelly helped. For dry scalp, although hairless, I apply conditioner religiously and that solved the patchy dry skin.

I have exercised daily, mostly Leslie Sansone’s walking exercise. I have them all–Walk 3, 4, and 5 miles, Walk Slim, The Big Burn, Walking Away Pounds…–from the local public library. I even add 3-pound hand weights to tone my flabby arms. Each exercise DVD raises my heart rate to at least one-twenties, and helps me break a sweat while I keep up with simple steps. Walk. What can be hard with that? In comparison to dancing DVDs that I found hard to follow since chemo, walking DVDs does not leave me wondering if I have a major case chemo brain.

Speaking of chemo brain, I will challenge myself by studying for CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) certification examination. If I pass it, I get to have a raise at work, plus it will be an extra acronym to add to my name after my old RN (Registered Nurse). More initials means smarter. Somebody said that. I refuse to fall as a helpless victim to chemo brain or chemo fog. I can beat it. I hope. I started reviewing for the difficult test this month.

I am strong enough to go to work too, I think. I will hold off on my part-time job and keep just my full-time job for now in the critical care unit in the hospital. I want to aim high but not overachieve to the point that I almost kill myself. Wish me good luck. I need it.

I attached some pictures below to give you a glimpse of my birthday and the day-after-mini-outing and celebration. I hope this happy mood lasts.

A pterodactyl looks like it's about to pick me up with its beaks.

Beautiful outside but windy and freezing cold. That is what the ski jackets are for, right?

I swear I did not use my cellphone inside the tour bus, and I gave a dollar tip.

The rocks are changing very slowly. Somewhere, there are dinosaur footprints.

Footprint on the rock by an Iguanodon dinosaur.

I actually enjoyed ice cream marble cake with my loved ones.

Till next time. Hope you have a nice weekend yourself.

B-Day, a Busy Day Brain-Fogged-Bone-Pain-Birthday Week

Walking around in the Foam Ball factory without the sun.

I thought I got away from bone pain this chemo round, but it has revisited me since yesterday. I refuse to take Tylenol this time in fear that it may hide my fever again. I can’t complain too much though. The pain is mild, not even half as bad compared to three weeks ago. I continue taking Claritin. I feel that it helps lessen the pain and I can continue with my activities to get my endorphins going.

When pain on my legs subsided yesterday, I joined the kids in the Foam Ball factory in Fun City. I did not touch any balls (germs). I doubt if those get cleaned. I walked around and watched my kids play. Yesterday was a short day in school. As part of my early birthday celebration, I took them out. This weekday, we avoided the weekend crowd, as my kids enjoyed the other attractions without waiting in line–a double bonus. The place is like a ghost town. I could count the kids present with my fingers.

Now, I have an issue with chemo brain fog too. I say the same stories over and over to the same people this week. To remedy or ease my brain deterioration, I exercise my brain by solving Sudoku puzzles. The “easy” version of the game sends me puzzled for a good half an hour but in the end I solve each one of them. I feel so proud and I wanted to show off my great brain work to my kids one day, until I realized I forgot the puzzle book on the the plastic surgeon’s desk. Grr….

My appointment with my plastic surgeon went well. The good news is my surgery is a great success. He wants to see me again for my areola tattooing after my rounds of chemo. He also said I can lift up to fifty pounds now which means I can resume working. I don’t know whether to celebrate or not because with my nature of work, I will be more exposed to bugs going back to my bedside nursing job. Oh well, I have to go back so I can afford to buy organic dairy. This controversy on hormone-related cancers and conventional pasteurized milk makes me nervous. I plan to buy mostly organic milk and milk products soon.

Speaking of chemo, I am now plagued with metallic taste in my mouth. I try to ignore it and eat different foods–Mongolian beef with veggies made to order yesterday, tempura–all-cooked sushi the other day, home cooked Philippine chicken adobo….The metallic taste bothers me. Nothing tastes the same. My nausea is not too bad though and I can still force myself to eat and drink without throwing up.

I can’t wait for my chemotherapy and its side effects to end.