Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Round 12 "Oh very young what did you leave us this time..."

Well, I knew if I ate enough Chia seeds, it was bound to happen. I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly - that my head would sprout like a Chia pet. Well, it has but it isn’t the nice highlighted brown color that I had perfected with the help of Onder and Tsvi. It is coming back in gray and that - even Annalise and Amelia recognize - is unacceptable. Luke pats my head and pulls his hand away with a giggle, as if we are reading “Pat the Bunny.” But the girls simply beg me to keep my hat on. This - after I had finally gotten them to realize and to repeat after me: ‘bald is beautiful.’ No mas.

As many of you know last week was a bit of a roller coaster - starting with my trip to Georgetown for my regular “chemo Tuesday.” Well that was a bit of a bust when the nurse came back and said my white and red blood cells combined were a mere 0.8. A few neupogen shots later with the help of our friend and neighbor Helen Matthews and those numbers shot up to 6.8. We have done so many neupogen shots now that Helen and I keep looking for new places on my body to pinch. The shot goes in with a slow burn.

I’ve only had one night sitting up shivering in a cold sweat from “bone ache”, the non-specific rather innocuous way in which doctors and nurses describe a possible side effect from the shot. Fortunately, the Grammy’s were on and the next morning I simply felt like I was recovering from the flu.

Last week, the reporter in me, my unwillingness to take ‘no’ for an answer and Dr. Isaacs sensing that my head was going to start spinning like Linda Blair if I didn’t get chemo, resulted in Dr. Isaacs agreeing that when my blood counts rose that I could get chemo. So I got it last Friday, rather than waiting until Tuesday. Not too eventful, but now the end is really in sight. Four more to go. Not sure I like that my 13th treatment falls this Friday - a bit too close to Friday the 13th - but so be it. “Chemo Tuesdays” have now become “Chemo Fridays,” which is fine by me. It means I will have a little less benadryl in my system as I watch American Idol. It will be interesting to see if I find it quite so “entertaining.”

One way in which last week’s “Chemo Friday” was a step up was the result of my new iPod and broader music selection. Thanks to Greg Scholl I now get to nod off to Cat Stevens. I needed an anthem so I turned to “Baba O’Reilly.” Tongue in cheek, I e-mailed Greg Scholl and asked him where the David Archuletta was on this new fully loaded iPod that he had fedexed to me overnight. Not amused he said to look under “S”. (I guess he doesn’t watch “American Idol.”)

One of my fears every time we go to see Dr. Isaacs is that my Greg looks so bad coming off the overnight shift at NPR that one of these times the nurses just might hook him up to a chemo drip. Whenever we are sitting there waiting, they always ask him if he wants something to drink. I want to wave and say - hang on - I am the patient here. (I guess it’s understandable because he doesn’t have nearly as good a ‘cranial prosthetic’ as me.)

The only real side effect from the chemo that I can report these days, other than a foul mood at times as I look outside and curse Paxutawny Phil, are my fingernails. The discoloration of my finger and toe nails (from the taxol) is so bad that even “Vamp” can’t cover its bruise-like discoloration. The accompanying numbness in my thumbs and big toes is slowing me down on my blackberry, which is annoying. (My thumbs, not my toes.) My nails are so gnarled and I can’t feel my thumbs so I send some pretty whacky blackberry messages. I used to be a ferocious blackberry user. Now every peck hurts. It’s slowed me down just for the time being. You may wonder, “Why are you using a blackberry?” Old habits die hard and like a shark, if I stop moving I may not survive. At the suggestion of my chemo nurse, Mary Ellen, I am trying some homeopathic remedy using tea tree oil. No idea if it works, but the smell certainly keeps me from biting my nails.

We are still in the midst of Operation Delouse the Children’s Heads at our house. Oddly and fortunately, they don’t seem to spread to any adults in our house. So it is possible that these lice have become a figment of Rose’s imagination. I am not sure I have ever actually seen one. Nonetheless the delousing continues. Every night it is the same ritual and Rose combs and checks. We have used the strong medicinal shampoo so many times that I opted for a homeopathic one from the drug store: “Quit Nits”. You leave the lotion on the hair for 4 hours underneath a plastic shower cap. Annalise came upstairs yesterday and pronounced that she felt like the “lunch lady,” then adding with her characteristic impish grin: “I am ready for my close-up!” She wasn’t.

Annalise (8) has become such an “activist” after sending a few dollars to the Humane Society that now we are flooded with donation and membership requests. From the Humane Society, she moved on to PETA. Each night at dinner some solicitor will call and ask for Annalise as though she were the head of the house. She proudly takes their calls. And can’t believe the number of letters awaiting her and addressed to her, each one with different animal stickers with her name on them and our return address. It’s gotten so absurd (and these non-profit marketeers think they have such a live one) that yesterday she came running up the stairs with an invitation to join AARP. She now has a laminated membership card from the American Association of Retired People. (It would be nice if she worked for a few years first.) I told her, however, she could use her new AARP card to get into the movies. If anyone questioned her age, she could simply tell them she was aging like Benjamin Button.

As for the rest of the family, our week has been filled with meetings with “the baby proofers”, a team from SafeStart (thank you, Ginny Taylor and Sarah Williams). The SafeStart team came through our painstakingly renovated home like a bunch of locusts setting up a virtual Alcatraz for baby Luke. Greg calls it our “un-renovation”. It’s likely to cost as much and so far Luke appears non-plussed by the added baby gates and barbed wire. Izzy, the cockapoo, on the other hand is traumatized and keeps getting locked between gates on our stairwell. For those of you who have been to Gaza, our house now feels a bit like Erez.

Wish me luck on Friday. I get both taxol and carboplatin - sort of like a chocolate martini sans the Godiva. Also, if you can tune in next week to the Today Show, our segment on “Triple Negative” is now firmly scheduled for Thursday, February 11 in the 8 am hour. Tivo it. It’s the day before the Olympics begin. Let the games begin!