Monday, March 28, 2011

Flick a switch

We finally all pile into the car and head down to Manhattan.  I'm already wiped out, but have every intention of going through with my master plan - rest, show, sleep. 

We pull up to the Marquis for what we thought would be valet parking and the lot is full!! Disappointing when trying to fulfill my master plan.  I haven't used it much, but when I trudged and waddled my way up to the desk to talk to the gentleman sitting there, I played the Cancer card.  Yup, I did.  And, lo and behold, there was a space available!  (It won't be the last time I use it!)

If you've never stayed at the Marquis, let's just say it's an enormous hotel in the middle of Time Square.  It felt like I had to walk a mile to get to the huge bank of elevators that seem to take forever to appear to just to take us to the 8th floor to check in.  Still more walking and waiting before we can make it to our room and I'm SOOOOO ready for the 'rest' portion of our night.  It certainly was not enough.

Before we knew it, we had to head down to Juniors to meet Laura and Halley for dinner.  I chose Juniors for 2 reasons - it was right next door and it has great Matzoh Ball Soup.  It was a long wait for dinner but it was worth it.

I forgot to mention that it was also Night of 1000 Gowns in the ballroom that night.  What's that you ask?? It's a drag charity event that will be televised on Bravo.  Here's Bob and I going down the elevator with a 7 foot tall 'woman' with fabulous heels and 3 inch long eyelashes!   Bob just couldn't resist....

Bob and the Girls!!!
 Off to the show.  Wonderland.  A modern day take on the classic story.  It was very well done with some great characters and songs.  I think both Halley and I liked Maddie Hatter the most - the bad girl with legs a mile long and a voice that would knock you out.  Or maybe it was the 8 girls that served as the caterpillar's legs - so cool and sexy.  No wait!  I nearly forgot the 'boy band' that backed up the White Night!!! I DID NOT STOP LAUGHING!!   Overall a great show!  Even though I sat in my seat all night just trying to hold it together, I was able to flick my switch and stand for the cast as they took their bows!!  Worth the effort!

I escaped to my room to prepare for a not-so-good night sleep and had Bob, Laura and Halley head to Time Square.  We needed to get a picture for posterity!

Laura, Bob and Halley on the Red Steps

Breakfast and we were out .... I had acupuncture and didn't want to miss.  It was the last effort of my day... I burned the candle at both ends and now was shot for the night.  I took all the meds (new and old) and settled down to rest.  I even took a long bath late at night and it seemed to help me sleep soundly.  A good solid 5 hours - I'll take it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bwayfans are Broadway Bound!!

Psyching myself up for an unexpected day in the city.

I ordered tickets to a show I wanted to see way back in October when I first heard it was coming out.  You guessed it - before I knew I had Cancer and all that it would take out of me. 

It's the Saturday after chemo treatment.  Usually I am laying around not doing much all day... resting, sleeping, you know the drill.  The same will happen today but with a few different twists.  I purposely stayed in bed longer than normal.  We'll drive down to pick up Laura and Halley (our dates today!) early in the afternoon and head down.  The show is at the Marquis Theatre so I booked rooms at the Marquis so I can rest before the show and go to bed immediately after.  We are planning dinner at the low-key Juniors right next door and breakfast in the hotel and straight home afterward.  Not a lot of walking for me today or tomorrow. 

I am a sucker for a Broadway show. We are seeing 'Wonderland'.  Here's some of the reviews:

I have a reason to see this... I want to create an Alice ballet for the recital at Yanarella.  I generally like to mix all types of music together to get our own story to tell and this show has perfect timing.  Laura creates my set so this is a good way for us to get the creative juices flowing!

I'm tired, yes, but excited to see and experience the day with 3 of my favorite people! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Last, but not least!

'No More Chemo' Cake!!!!

Strangely excited for today!  Today is my last chemotherapy treatment.  It is hard to believe it's been 4 months since this started.  It felt like such a long road and now I'm onto the last leg!  My family is calling it my 'other marathon'.  As Sarah said to me today -

    You just hit the last leg of the marathon! That's a big deal :)
    we're the losers on the side lines ringing the cowbells
    The end is near and then it's recovery time... Just like Chicago
    But with less snacks on route

I love those losers with the cowbells!  Talk about a support system  - I have the absolute best!!  I think Sarah is also forgetting all the snacks I've indulged in along the way... therefore I've gained 10 pounds that I can't wait to get rid of! 

I walked into the Dyson Center this morning and all my staff were high fiving me and celebrating my last treatment!  What a special day... Barbara brought in a cake to share:

'No More Chemo' Cake!!!!
Great day.... getting tired.... more later....

Love to all my family and friends!!!!  Thanks for making my day so special!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where have I been?  Here - icing and sleeping.... or trying to. 

The effects of the neuropathy really took hold of me after my 'Pinky Toes' post.   I thought that I had been abusing my feet by wearing shoes without socks at first, but it had gotten so bad that I realized it was more than just that.  The soles of my feet had turned bright red as if they were sunburned.  It hurt to walk on them. I thought I had been doing myself a favor by taking a bath in our 'champagne bubble' tub each night - thinking that soaking my feet would help the situation.  I soon figured out that the hot water only exasperated it. Our shower is made of 1 inch tiles that felt like needles as I stood on them every morning.

Shoes?  I struggled for a few days at the end of week wearing whatever shoes I could manage with my swollen, blistered feet. I went shopping for a few pair a half size larger with extra cushioning - anything to accommodate what was going on.  But it certainly wasn't easy.    Besides the sunburned bottoms, the 2 pinky toes just throbbed and hurt like I danced in toe shoes for 24 hours straight.  The outline of my feet also felt pain so touching any part of a shoe was torturous.  Especially at the heels.  So there I was taking 2 hours to slowly stretch a shoe open a far as I could open it and cringe as I slide my foot in and wedge my heel into place... OUCH.

My feet weren't alone.  My finger tips and nails also feel worse - like they were closed in drawer.  The nails are sensitive, ribbed, lifting and turning color.  Striped brown is the color of choice currently!  Lovely.  Buttons, medication tops, lids, necklace clasps - anything that involves pressure on the fingers is killer.  Trying those shoes on meant I had to 'gingerly' pick up boxes, open them and untie shoes.... it was a slow process...

But that night, Bob and I went out with our friends Shelly and Chris.  Chinese in Millbrook for a change and I loved it!  I'm still walking like an old lady in my new cushy Van's but, I make the best of it.  Shelly, too, has a bad foot so the two of us are like bookends - really pathetic!!!  Somehow, we hear of a Disco night down the road from our house at the Links and I'm happy to go there for 2 reasons - close to our house and enough chairs for everyone.  Standing was not an option for me or Shelly and I really didn't want to head to LaPuerta and take the chance that either of us might be standing for the night.  But we get to the door and I hear the music... I look over at Shelly and say 'I'm just gonna have to dance!' And dance we did - just not like we normally would.   I actually let Bob take breaks between songs... ok, alot of breaks! And it was me who needed it.  Besides my feet, I was extremely winded and knew I had to slow down and take it easier.  Either way, we had a blast!  Surprising fun.

Back to the not sleeping part.... not only was I dealing with the pain during the day, at night it would fire up 10x's more!  I would drop to sleep and awake with burning hands and feet.  I filled my tub with cold water and every hour or so would put my feet and hands in it to cool them down.  After 4 or 5 trips like this I would finally fall asleep.   Grabbing only a few hours of sleep several days in a row, mentally wore me down.  I shifted to using ice packs later in the week to avoid getting out of bed and really waking up.  It did gradually get better by Friday with my first sleep through the night - I feel like a baby!!! And today, my feet are normal, but my figures still feel the effect even as I type but I can tolerate it.

The biggest change besides the neuropathy is the shortness of breath.  I did feel it at the Disco dance but I really had to take notice at the Studio on Tuesday.  I did what I could but had to sit through most of my night for both my feet and my breathing.  As difficult as it is to not participate, sitting gives you a different perspective.   I can see things that I would not normally notice.  Good things.  I can fix steps and adjust bodies that seemed to pop out to me.  I can highlight a student to show us how it should be done.  I get to ask questions - Why do I like this?  What don't I like about this?  I can also work my students harder - and they did!!!  They were tired, but never complained!  I was just so happy to be there with them, I think it was infectious!!! 

For  me, it's time to try to build a little of the strength that I've lost both aerobically and muscularly.  I walked a mile on my treadmill yesterday and I felt it.  Slow and steady.  In fact, knocked me out last night!!  It'll take a while to get the old me back.  I'm very realistic about how limited I am now but know I can when this is all over.

Speaking of over... I haven't even mentioned that this week contains my last chemo treatment!  That'll have to wait for another post.  Good night!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My top 10 reasons to dislike 3am

1 - looking at the lovely milky color of my patchwork tongue
2 - the roof of my mouth feels like I just ate dry Captain Crunch
3 - thinking you have stuff stuck in your teeth but you can't feel it
4 - the taste of anything just makes you mad because you know what it SHOULD taste like
5 - feeling like I did tongue pushups
6 - swallowing and swallowing and swallowing
7 - brushing my teeth for the 15th time today
8 - wiping my mouth after eating and not feeling it - I'll call it the 'botox effect'
9 - worried I'll bite the inside of my mouth or lip and not know it
10 - clenching my teeth - I used to reserve this only for when I was stressed or during a run, now I can attribute the pain in my jaw to this too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pinky Toes

Another lousy night's sleep.... sleep for 30 minutes, bathroom break, toss, turn, sweat, open the door, check the heat, freeze, toes hurt, etc.  

I understand the sweat/freeze thing - with chemotherapy I'm thrown into menopause.  I've had those bouts off and on over the past few years.  The severity of it last night was a change for me, but to be expected.  It's hard to realize I'm past that phase of my life.  I've gone over the 'mountain' from being more like my daughter to being more like my mother.  I have all these boxes of  'feminine products' floating around the house, in my dance/gym bags, purses - how do you say to someone "Hey, by the way, I have a lot extra tampons that I don't need any more.  Are you interested?"  Not exactly dinner conversation.... lol

The surprise was my pinky toes!   Just leaning on them or having the sheet touch them during the night was painful!!  This morning, I got to thinking about it and just yesterday I clipped my toe nails for no apparent reason.  I thought it might have been the shoes or even the socks I wore. I generally keep the nails very short because of dance and running.  The shoes I wear for those activities are very tight and any kind of length to the nail just bothers me.  I'm not a favorite in the pedicure chair, that's for sure!  Anyway, the toes were bothering me yesterday, so I guess it started yesterday. 

Now that I think about it, it must have really started with the last treatment!!!  I was complaining to my friend Shelly that I must be texting/tweeting too much because my thumb nails are hurting me!  That statement alone puts me into another stratosphere - the thought that it was the action of hitting the phone keypad could be causing pain is a true sign of this day and age we live in, that's for sure.  Feeling my fingernails ache today was what convinced me there was something else going on.

Pinky toes and thumb nails made me google it - peripheral neuropathy.  That's the name for it.  My Onc had asked me if I was feeling numbness, but I hadn't been.  I now can say yes, but I wouldn't call it numb, just slightly painful, like an ache.  My toes feel like I wore tight shoes and my fingernails feel like I closed a drawer on them.  Nothing all that drastic - yet.  There are all kinds of other nasty things that accompany this - I'll keep you posted if I get the really gross stuff.  Aren't you excited??

How ridiculous is it that I am complaining about my pinky toes!!??!!   Pretty ridiculous in the whole scheme of things!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Here I am writing of my tales for all to see.

As predicted, it was an easier weekend than usual... the problem with that is I pushed myself to do too much! 

Alex and Sarah were home and I wanted to spend every minute I could with them.  I cooked a fantastic batch of sauce for dinner that night, if I do say so myself!  We had friends join us for it and a hot game of Mexican Train.  Katie came too and she brought along the good stuff - Whipped Vodka - pretty good stuff!  We had a fun night for sure.

We all split up the next day - kids went to their respective homes, Bob went off to the car show with his dad and I went to see Elisa for my acupuncture treatment. 

The muscles from my hips up through my spine all the way to the base of my scull were sore due to the neulasta shot I had gotten on Friday.  I wasn't as dry as usual and the chest tightness was less which made me feel better overall.  I took a short nap on Saturday afternoon to prepare for the night ahead, but it wasn't enough.  I was really wiped out on Sunday and shouldn't have driven myself to Acu. but I did.  I headed straight home afterward and spent the rest of the day sofa-bound worrying about Sarah and her 10 hour drive back to Pittsburgh... thank god she got back safely!

I finally got to bed and slept off and on during the night - this was the night that everything flushed out from the last few days - EVERY 2 HOURS!!!  I was more exhausted when I woke up!  I prepped for the day and immediately layed down for 2 hours before I had my massage.   The magical massage that made me human again!  I was able to get home and back to work for a few hours ...

and here I am writing of my tales for all to see.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Things went a little smoother this time.  Without the Adriamycin, it seemed to cut off 30 minutes or so.  It seems all meds that I take have an effect on me even down to the saline.  I can feel each and every one of them pulse through my veins.  The nurses say I'm sensitive - sure, I'm sensitive alright!

I was quite tired through the infusion, but didn't seem to sleep much.  Couldn't really open my eyes either. Just listened to what was going on around me.  If I did open my eyes, I couldn't talk because nothing that made any sense came out so I just kept my mouth shut and smiled from time to time.  My drug induced alter-ego.

The rest of the day was a day of rest.  Nothing more than sleeping, eating and tv.  My knees were feeling very stiff and invisibly swollen.  But when I woke up, I they felt much better probably because I was laying flat.  On top of that, I was pretty functional for the entire morning.  I was able to check into work and do a little for my clients. Sarah made me one of my all-time favorite breakfasts - Eggs Benedict - it was great and this was her first try!!!  She went off to go shopping with Phyllis and Alex came home to take me to my Nuelasta shot. 

Alex and Bob waited outside while I ran in to have my shot which usually takes just a few minutes.  It was pretty crowded in there so it definitely took longer.  When I was leaving, the receptionist asked me to wait because someone was headed down to meet me.  She referred to her as a 'breast navigator'!  I have never heard of that in my life!! A few minutes later Linda appeared and nicely introduced herself and asked if I needed anything.  She is available to help me with anything I may have needed to get me through the end.  My friend Barbara asked her to come to see me - friends in high places!  I explained where I was in the process and if I needed anything I would be sure to contact her.  So many nice people out there caring about me.  Thank you all.

I was beat when I got home.  I knew I needed to lay down as my chest was hurting and I was tired.  I slept longer than I expected and I didn't do anything tonight as planned.  Bob and Sarah went to services and Alex and I stayed home and watched a movie.  Plans are always flexible these days. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Today is my Friday!

Tried to finish up all my work for the week today... that didn't happen the way I wanted it to, but I'll figure it out.  We decided to go to a movie and hit one of our favorite restaurants (Bonsai) before with Sarah.  We met our friends Barbara and Allen their too - it was good to be out especially knowing I'll be home for a week or so.

Dinner and movie tonight - drugs and sleep tomorrow.

I am doing a little prep work today - Oatmeal, prunes, colace, 'Smooth Move' tea - I'm trying anything to not feel like I did last time.  I even went to Elisa to get stuck with some needles in all the right places to keep things moving!!!

We'll see how it goes.... hahahahahahaha!!!