Friday, June 1, 2007

What's the time? It's time to get ill!

While I am fairly certain the Beastie Boys weren't referring to becoming physically sick, a slight shift of definition gives this line new meaning to me. I did indeed "get ill" today. Or at least, my blood counts confirmed that I am in a severe danger zone. I am once again in the precarious state known as neutropenia. My white blood cell count is less that 0.1, with the average usually between 3.5-11. As I've mentioned before, this means I have virtually no way to fight an infection. If I get any sort of fever above 100.5 degrees, it is off to the hospital, post haste, for me. So for roughly the next ten days, I will be cloistering myself in my house. But it's a small price to pay compared to the alternative. I'm actually fairly lucky: I have been doing a lot these past few days, going out and such. Who knows how often I could have picked up some little germy. The good news is I am taking my e-coli derivate shot, which will hopefully help my counts come up faster. And now, if you will please, allow me to segue into my Cancer Rant of the Day.

Health insurance sucks. I wish I could put it more delicately, but those are the words that came to me. By sheer, awful coincidence, our insurance just changed. Once again, I am indebted to my mom because she is taking care of all the ridiculous details. I wouldn't even know where to start. There is so much paperwork, so many nit-picky things, and really, it's all about the money. The last thing any of us need to worry about right now is whether or not all of this stuff I need is covered or not. My e-coli shots, for instance, are apparently no longer covered... I'm not sure though, that's just what one person said. And everyone you talk to says something different. I know all of this will eventually get figured out, albeit with many curses and threats, but it's still a pain to have to deal with it now. And hey, if it doesn't work out, I might just have a benefit concert or sell my spectacular hospital artwork. Haha, I could call it E-chords and stick-figures: help Caroline afford e-coli! But anyway, I just thought I'd mention yet another side of cancer, the red tape. I've gone over the mental, physical and other sides. It's important to note the paper side. Otherwise, that's about it. Hopefully tomorrow will be another good day. I hope it rains. I'm sick of all the sun and feeling guilty about staying inside. Enjoy Saturday. Pax.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And the moral of today's story is:

Do not walk umpteen miles in a city wearing sandals unless you are prepared for dirty feet. That is moral number 1. Moral number 2 is that Corn Pops are quite possibly the best cereal ever. Those two statements just about sum up my day. I will, however, elaborate.

Today, I ventured downtown, via train, for my weekly young adult cancer group meeting. I had some time to kill before group, so I took a trip to what is known as "Old Town." It's basically a slightly more upscale part of Chicago that used to be factories and old businesses and such. Now there are mostly nice restaurants and boutique-y shops. It was nice to just be able to walk around outside. Since the weather was so nice, and I was feeling sprightly, I decided I should walk back down the street to Gilda's Club. It couldn't have been more than a mile or two away, but by the time I got to Gilda's, my body was like, "Caroline, stop walking! You can't just think you can walk like that when you've been in the hospital and haven't done anything physical in a substantial amount of time." And you know what? My body is right. But that doesn't mean I listen to it. After group, I walked over to Millennium Park, which was probably another mile and a half. By this point, I'm pretty sure my calves were beginning to cramp up. (In retrospect, I was probably also somewhat dehydrated. meh.) But it was all worth it. I had a good, solid walk around the city, and hopefully I'll sleep well tonight. I really, really do love Chicago. I am especially fascinated with Millennium Park, where the infamous "Bean" is located. I could sit there for hours watching the people take pictures of their reflections. But that's just me.

So, my feet were pretty dirty, but I have since scrubbed them clean, and now my feet are pretty happy. And the Corn Pops quelled my accumulated hunger, for now. I hope everyone else's day was as fulfilling as mine was. Tomorrow, I plan on not doing anything, recuperating from today. Because I can. Haha. Pax.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


So, I'm not quite sure what happened to me differently this past hospital stay, but I have found myself to be much less flexible since I have come home. Realistically, it's probably a result of my not stretching anymore, but I'd like to blame it on the chemo. I mostly just vegged out while I was in the hospital, since I was only in for three days, one of which I was completely knocked out for. I can still touch my toes, but my 180 degree splits are deceased. I've also noticed my arms don't feel as stretchy, which is strange. I need to get moving around some more though. Come on, movement motivation!

In other news, today was a long day: today was a clinic day. All I needed was one shot, L-Aspariginase, a quick dose of chemo. It took literally ten seconds for my nurse to give me the shot. I had to wait, however, for about two hours for them to finally call my name. I guess today was especially busy as it was the day after a holiday, and sick peoples need their drugs. I did notice something interesting while I was waiting for them to draw my blood though: cancer patients tend to avoid other cancer patients. There is a hallway where we are instructed to wait before they can draw blood, and, as I've mentioned, today was especially busy. So I had to sit between two women while we waited, one of whom had disturbingly blue toenails. But I found it interesting that neither woman looked at me when I sat down. Indeed, they both turned away from me. I was tempted to start coughing horrifically and messily all over the place, but I decided that they perhaps wouldn't share my sense of humor. So I restrained. Otherwise, that was about it. Same old clinic feelings, same old desire to be anywhere but at clinic. Eventually, I made it home, and I haven't done much with the rest of my day. Slept on and off, I suppose. Oh, I had a burrito. Hahaha. Tomorrow I go downtown for group, which should be fun. It's hot and sunny and possibly rainy tomorrow in Chicago. All things one comes to expect at the end of May in Chicago. So happy Tuesday, sad toad. Don't let the world get you down. Peace.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I think it's time for another photog!

Yes, dear friends, it is officially cicada season in the suburbs. They are coming out of the ground, shedding their exoskeletons, and flying around like they own the place. Once shed, they are blue-bodied, red-eyed, and shiny-winged. They are also tremendously noisy. I swear, everything happened so fast while I was in the hospital. When I left home on Wednesday, the cicadas were just starting to show themselves. Now, they are everywhere, and more keep coming. Their little shells accumulate on the sides of buildings, on the trees, on the patio; there is no escaping the 17-year plague. It's a good time. If nothing else, they make for interesting photo subjects.

Speaking of everything moving at warp speed, it only took about four days for my tastebuds to be annihilated by the chemo demon. I have reached the point where water tastes funny. I had ice cream for dinner, and even that tasted not so good. I don't remember how long it took for my appetite to return to normal the first time I went through this, but hopefully this won't last too long. One thing my nurse cautioned me against was comparing this cycle with my first month of chemo. In terms of drugs, the cycles are the same, but there is no guarantee at all that my body will react the same way. So I guess I'm just biding my time, waiting to see how things turn out. She also told me that, hopefully, I won't become as neutropenic this time, which would be nice. I am looking forward to enjoying some fun lakefront activities downtown without having to worry about catching anyone else's germies. Otherwise, that's about it from here. Oh, this is the first major holiday that I haven't been in the hospital, which is also exciting. I missed Christmas and Easter, but Memorial Day, here I come. So that's worth celebrating at least. Alright, well enjoy Monday, and look for more pictures of creepy little bugs. Peace.