Saturday, August 25, 2007

I know what today is.....!

Today, August 25, is the one-year anniversary of the last time I received a professional haircut. I had long, shiny, blondish-brown, wavy locks, and I chose to do something new and different: I got a really cute bob cut. But wait, there's more! I thought I would do a noble thing and get enough hair cut off so that I could donate it to... Locks of Love. That's right, one year ago today I had about eleven inches of hair cut off that was then donated to an organization that makes wigs for children under the age of 18 who have experienced hair loss due to various illnesses. One year ago today, I had no idea that it would be only four short months until my own hair started falling out. I was only thinking, vaguely, that Locks of Love was a good cause. I know I wasn't thinking about the kids without hair. Baldness was an inconceivable idea to me. Women and children who were bald were to be pitied because that must mean they had some terrible, unspeakable illness. Plus, I mean, they didn't have hair, and who wants that? Yet here I am, one year later, with such a completely different perspective, I almost can't believe it. I'm not bald anymore; I have essentially a buzz cut. Now when I walk around without a hat or scarf, which I have started doing, I become defensive. The absolute last thing I want is to be pitied for not having hair and its associated implications. I know I've talked about being bald on here quite a bit, but I think it's interesting to consider the person I was one year ago, unthinkingly donating my hair to Locks of Love. I have seen so many sick people in clinic, bald or otherwise. I no longer pity them with a blithe ignorance stemming from my false assumption that I was invincible. Now, it makes me so sad to see anyone who is clearly in pain or ill. I know what it feels like to be scared and sick, and I would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy.

I like to try and finish my introspections with some way for others to apply what I've learned. But I'm at a bit of a loss right now. If someone had said something similar to this to me one year ago, I would have felt sad, but I wouldn't have really understood. I wouldn't have understood that it is okay and often necessary to talk about disease. It is okay to feel sorry for people who are in a much worse physical state than me. But it is not okay to pity them. They are trying desperately hard to live a normal life, to live to see tomorrow, and that is admirable, not pitiable. Things like poverty and war are easy to understand because they can be seen, visited, fixed. Cancer and other terminal illnesses you pretty much have to experience yourself to fully understand their magnitudes. But I do have to end somehow, so I will. If you're getting your hair cut, consider donating it. Locks of Love really is a good cause, and children are helped to feel a little better about themselves, which is the most important thing. And forgive my ramblings. The end of treatment is drawing near for me, so I'm trying to figure out if I've learned anything over the past almost nine months. If nothing else, I hope anyone who reads this has learned something. Hokey doke, enjoy the rest of the weekend. Peace.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Pretty much, I don't even know what to say right now, but I am seething inside and need to say something. I had labs drawn earlier today, and I found out about an hour ago that my neutrophil count (one type of white blood cell) is too low to continue with the chemo on Monday. So once again, everything is pushed back a week. I don't even care about going back to Boston now, although I have some good news to share further down. I just really, really want this to be over. And everything keeps getting pushed back. I understand why. My body is worn down. It is taking longer to recover, and it would be too dangerous to administer chemo with low counts. But that doesn't mean I still can't be really frustrated and upset. This chemo thing turned out to be a whole lot more than I initially signed on for. Way back in December, I thought, so naively, that I would be finished by the end of June, possibly end of July. Here we are at the end of August, and I've still got another month, probably longer, to go.

But the good news, and there is good news. I will be able to finish my treatment in Boston, at Dana-Farber. This coming week, I will not be receiving chemo as planned, because of my counts. I will receive it the week after at U of C, right after Labor Day weekend. And after that week is finished, I will be driving to Boston. I'll have another week or two of waiting for my white counts to rebound, and then I will receive the last and Final! week of chemo at Dana-Farber. So it looks like I will be returning to classes while still having to deal with the drugs and their effects, but I am willing to deal with that. At least it will be in September and not too far in. Otherwise, I might not return to Boston until mid-October. So hopefully this works out.

I have reached the point where I really don't know what to do anymore. I guess just keep breathing. It's going to be a very busy next two weeks, jam-packed with packing and packing and planning and more chemo. And all I really want is for this to be over. But anyway. It will be eventually. I'm not my usual snarky self right now, but I'm sure the snark will return. I do hope the snark will return. Aight. Take care now. Pax.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I enjoy postcards.

Both sending and receiving postcards, I find, results in much enjoyment. I say this because I am currently analyzing a postcard that my friend sent me from Hawaii, and I'm pretty certain the picture on the front has been retouched. Also, right around this time last year, this same friend and I went on an Adventure! to New York City. That's a story in and of itself, but the point is that I sent some people postcards while I was in the Big Apple.

In other news, one of my various resident bacteria was mentioned in the newspaper today. Refresher: a long time ago, during my first U of C stay, I tested positive for VRE, or vancomycin resistant enterococcus. It's a bacterium. It's resistant to a common antibiotic (vanco). That's about it. Anyway, I guess I'm a carrier. It chills out in my bladder, not doing anything special. However, I can transfer it to other people easily, who would then get infected and quite sick. VRE is the reason the hospital keeps me on contact isolation and everyone who comes in my room has to wear gloves and a gown. So anyway, there's been a whole big uproar in Chicago recently about the proliferation of another dangerous bacterium, MRSA, or methycyllin (sp?) resistant staph aureus. Mmm, staph. Basically, the governor of Illinois signed two laws yesterday that now require hospitals to test all incoming patients for MRSA, and to, I think, test for the other dangerous bacteria such as VRE. I'm not quite sure of the specifics of either law, but they are meant to decrease the number of hospital infections and resultant deaths. But I was mostly excited when I saw one of my friendly bacteria in the paper. (Worth noting, I also tested positive for Epstein-Barr virus a good while back, but that turned out to be a false alarm. I swear, every time I go to the hospital, they tell me I've got another obscure, potentially deadly virus or bacterium floating around in me.)

And finally. I went for a walk today, and in that walk, I ran a little bit more. Hooray for getting back to healthy! I also made myself dinner, and it was delicious. I am pleased. That's it. Tomorrow, Downtown Day! Peace.