Spring, Swing, and Sting

Nice to wake up and find delicious breakfast is served for you and family at Bed and Breakfast.

Spring has arrived, so has the Glory of the Snow from the bulbs I planted years ago. Yearly, the bulbs bring on these cute star-shaped flowers in my front yard. My hay fever started too. Disappointingly, the Loratadin antihistamine I take for bone pain (unlabeled use) does not work for it. I now take generic Zyrtec with Sudafed. I found out, anything with Sudafed cannot be found over the counter anymore, at least not in Walgreens. I had to get in from the pharmacy, and I had to show my ID. They keep tract of how much of it customers buy, they say. How much does one need to make Methamphetamine out of it? I don’t know. I just want to relieve my sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, and clogged runny nose. Achoo. Bless me.

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The Living Room at Bed and Breakfast

I took the kids one and a half hours south for spring break last weekend. Staying low-key with a shoestring budget, Paul and I walked around the scenic surroundings. I had to ask him to slow down for me as I could not keep up. Having less energy on a higher elevation (over one thousand feet higher than home) I found myself panting. Twenty minutes walking outdoors was enough for me.

Play House

My children played in the tall wooden playhouse by the tree, rock climbed the outside walls, and swung on homemade swings while scooping mint and pecan ice-cream to their mouths. We also went to a recreation center with an indoor wave pool, slide, and lazy river. I did not go to the slide but the last few minutes, I dipped in the wave pool and tried to fight the waves. This was my resistance training; I convinced myself, fighting the waves, and stiffening my body so I don’t get pushed away.

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I can taste food again. No more metallic tastes. For meals, we had breakfast at the Bed and Breakfast place where we slept. Eggs Benedict, then waffles and strawberries satisfied us. I don’t make these at home, so they serve as great treats. In between I made simple lunches to save money. When the kids got tired of egg and sausage sandwiches I prepared, we ate out at Chilis with my spring break coupon and spent twenty dollars for chicken fajita, two kids’ meals, and a hot chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel and chocolate syrup.

windy day, glad my wig did not get blown away

Mexican Food

Another time, we ate a Mexican restaurant. Recommended by Yelp people, we enjoyed two smothered burritos and a hot, cream-filled Churro with whipped cream. That cost us twenty dollars too. We also ate in a Filipino deli, the only Filipino restaurant in town. Paul ate with us then, and with four of us, we spent fifty dollars. For the-trying-to-be frugal me, it hurt to pay that much for mediocre food. We thought I made better tasting Pancit noodles, and pork and chicken stews than what we had there. The desert shaved ice we call Halu-halo lacked the usual amount of beans and sweetened fruits. It tasted just OK. Of course, all of us ordered drinks with the meal which raised the bill. Oh, well.

Western Museum

Lastly, we visited the Western mining museum and learned about early and later mining equipment, steam engines, etc. We did not spent so much time outdoors for my fear of excessive sun exposure for my chemo-sun-sensitive skin and gusty wig-blowing wind. Besides, my pollen allergy bothered me a lot. My eyes looked red and felt itchy.

mining

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I have to share my mental sting that I can’t get off my mind. Yesterday after my shift, I visited a coworker in the hospital with multiple myeloma. He died in the afternoon, due a complication with a head bleed–a bad stroke after bone marrow transplant. Somehow, I saw myself in him yesterday morning. He had no hair like me and had dark-brown skin. He is also in his forties. I fear that what happened to him can happen to me. Just last week, my blood test showed an elevated D-dimer that may mean clot. What if I get clot in my brain? Clots can cause stroke too. Am I also going to die soon? I should not think this way. God please help me.

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I have just received a Get Well card from a friend with a note of mass offering, and a gift check. Today, a friend from church brought me Easter boxes from volunteers. In previous years, my family gave donations to the needy before Easter. This year, I received the boxes of food and a gift card. The boxes plus two bags are filled with canned goods, staples like sugar, eggs, and sweet treats. Next year, I hope to be strong again and be blessed with extra cash so I can again start buying food for the less fortunate. For now, I won’t turn any help down especially because I have not received my disability check yet. A few days ago, I received a promise that the insurance company will send me a check in a separate mail. It has been a few days and my check is NOT in the mail. Three pay periods later and I still don’t have my disability check. Hmp.

Thank goodness I have friends who care especially in this time of need.

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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.

Think Fun

In the news...

The Los Angeles teacher scandal spoiled it for the rest of the teachers there. So the young students are affected…So many bad news plague the screen sometimes I refuse to watch what’s going on. Bad news tops good news most of the time. It gets depressing.

What am I to do? Do something stress relieving, something positive, something fun. I start planning for spring break vacation–more like weekend getaway. Since I will be working that week in the hospital, I can’t stay weeklong… Isn’t that weird? I haven’t started working yet and here I am already planning to get away? We won’t be going too far–just more than an hour drive away visiting museums, eating food not available where I live. Filipino food is what I crave lately. No restaurants here that caters authentic food from the Philippines.

We will stay in a grandma/grandpa type bed and breakfast. The place has great reviews and pictures so charmingly colorful with wooden playscape outside and homey furnishings inside. Picture this–dark red flowers in shrubs welcoming visitors by the driveway. Heading to the back of the place, beautiful brown horses stand eating hay. The patio overlooks more green shrubs under bright blue skies which also covers the distant snow peaked mountains. Inside, oversized dark leather sofas with soft, large pillows wait for us to sit on. Cool green quilts cover the king- and queen-sized beds in the spacious family guest room… I just got my email confirmation today. I am so excited. Only $55/day, that can’t be beat.

I did a thirty-minute 2-mile indoor walk. I can’t do too much outdoors although it is sixty degrees nice weather outside due to my location–more than five thousand feet elevation. I live too close to the sun for my chemo-sun-sensitive skin. For lunch, I will head north to eat out with Paul in a restaurant that is not too busy.

That is my fun for the day. Simple but it is mine. I will stay away from the news the rest of the day.

Too Busy Trying Not To Die

Darn cell phones

“I spoke to your dad on the phone the other day and he said he got laid off…”

After the cell phone drama, she managed a smile.

My daughter switched the conversation.

“If I save up enough money to buy a cell phone, can I buy one?”

“Maybe. But how can you pay for the monthly service?”

Her eyes watered. She left the dining room and returned with tissues.

“I’m sorry, my child, you don’t want to talk about your dad. Is that it?”

“No, I am sad about the cell phone.”

That reminded me that her dad mentioned about getting her and her brother, my son, cell phones. Now that he no longer works, the cell phone idea gets buried again. No way I can afford the luxury, yes, even if all her classmates have one. “All” of her classmates who goes to school whose seventy percent of the population receives free or reduced school meals has cell phones. I don’t get it. It amazes me what is important to my child, to children nowadays. I hurt that she is hurt but can’t she see? I am too financially disabled, too busy trying not to die, trying hard to take care of myself so I stay healthy–so they can have the best me.

Outside the museum after we viewed the watercolors exhibit.

I took the kids out with a pass from the library yesterday after the drama. We went to see the watercolors show at a local museum. We walked through all the nooks and corners, halls, and rooms. We checked each piece of art. We even went to the gift shop. For the first time, no one asked to buy something. Outside we took some pictures. They smiled genuinely.

On the way home, we stopped at Barnes and Noble. We each got one or more books we liked. Nursing book for me, Pretty Little Liars/Sketch/and Madlib book for my daughter, and an Airplane/Sketch books for my son. With membership discount, I spent a little over one hundred dollars for the books.

At home, my daughter volunteered to make more meringue cookies. She whipped the egg whites while I

The meringue with almond cookies we baked.

added the mix-ins. My son got busy making airplanes with colored papers before our ham sandwich and soup noodles with veggies and egg yolks. To my surprise, my daughter also offered in advance to do the walking exercise with me in front of the screen this morning. She has not said a word about cell phones. Maybe it is not that important to her after all.

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.