29 July 2011

My arm hurts!

While not necessarily good news, it is certainly interesting. For one thing, it's my left arm, near my armpit, an area that lost feeling back in March when the surgeon took a melon baller to my lymph nodes. Then there is the amount of narcotics in my system. I'm still wearing a Fentanyl patch and taking regular Percocets, which makes me wonder if the pain is real or a figment of my imagination. And if it is real, is it a sign that feeling is finally returning to that area of my arm? Watch for the next armpit updates to find out!

20 July 2011


Tomorrow is my sixth and final dose of the despicable, vile, and possibly fiendish Taxotere. I have to admit, I'm more than a little excited at the thought of this maladventure being over. And yet, somehow, I'm more than a little repulsed at the thought of having to go through yet another round of suffering. Either way, I'm still nauseous from the penultimate round, so I can safely assume that full recovery from chemo will take closer to four week than I would like. Drat.

17 July 2011

The Great Invitations Debacle... Part Two

Continued from Part One.

Upon arrival at the stationary store, I opened all the boxes to confirm everything was correct. The R.S.V.P. cards matched perfectly, and the inserts and thank yous were boring, but functional, as expected. The invitations, at first glance, were gorgeous. I had to admit I liked them better than the ones we originally picked. Well, except for the lack of ink in the "T" in "The Ritz-Carton". ON EVERY SINGLE INVITATION. If it was any other piece of stationary, I would have just dealt with it. But on the invitation? After we paid for rush and overnight delivery? This had to be fixed.

Linda was on vacation, but, after a call from the sales clerk, she was all over it. It was too late to call Checkerboard that afternoon, so she called them first thing the next morning. Then she called us to let us know that Checkerboard was reprinting the invitations that day and we would receive them tomorrow morning.

If nothing else, the delay provided time to order stamps. We were planning on ordering pretty stamps, but first we needed to know how much postage each envelope would require. Unfortunately, it's rather difficult to determine postage without an envelope to weigh, but that was no longer a problem.

We used of the offending invitations for weighing, assuming that the weight difference between half a "T" and a properly printed "T" would be negligible. The post office declared the fully stuffed envelope to require 84 cents. Now we could finally order the stamps!

We quickly agreed on using a pair King and Queen of Hearts stamps for the outer envelopes and a Breast Cancer Awareness stamp for the R.S.V.P. envelopes. An excellent plan, which Matt attempted to execute on Friday afternoon. After visiting three different post offices, he discovered that the King and Queen of Hearts were no longer being sold in post offices and every local office was sold out. We were more than welcome to order them online, and wait 2-3 business days for delivery. Seriously? Are these people not aware that one of their peons stops by our house every day? How difficult would it be to put some stamps in the mail bag in morning? Useless.

The best Matt could do was was the boring standard wedding stamps. At least the breast cancer ones were in plentiful supply in all three post offices, so he was 50% successful. I'll be nice and bump it up to 100% since at least he came home with the correct number of stamps.

Admittedly, I was mad at the stamps for not being pretty enough, not to mention nauseous, so we decided not to deal with the stamps until the next day.

The next morning, around eleven, UPS dropped off a box of correctly printed invitations! Hurray! Did I mention it was a Saturday morning? I was very impressed. Before I could call Linda to let her know the world was no longer going to end, she called. Apparently she had been tracking the package online, and was worried that it didn't say delivered yet. I assured her that the package arrived less than five minutes ago, and the contents were perfect. And for such amazing service, while she was on vacation, I have to recommend that everyone go to Linda at Arts & Letters.

It was finally time to start stuffing all 102 envelopes! I was planning on getting dressed, but after Loretta woke up sick and wouldn't be able to help, I decided that pajamas were the appropriate attire for such a chore.

In the stationary store, Matt happened to have been the one to inspect the envelopes with addresses printed by Checkerboard. Due to time constraints, we forked over $1.80 per envelope for address printing. For that much, I expected printed script and nice spacing. Instead, I was really disappointed to discover what resembled a quick home-printer job by a teenager. Alas, I would have to live with the results. Though I will recommend that people who want a formal-looking address avoid Checkerboard's Easy Addressing service.

Somehow we managed to stuff all envelopes in about three hours. This included hand-addressing the ones being mailed to Israel (Easy Addressing doesn't apply to foreign addresses) and phone call to confirm one of the Israeli addresses missing a zip code.

We were so close to being finished with the invitations that we went to the post office before lunch. The clerk was amazingly nice and more than willing to put the invitations aside for hand-canceling. Then she asked if they were our wedding invitations, after which she congratulated us and shook my hand. Finally, she weighed and stamped the invitations heading to Israel. And on that note, the invitations were DONE.

I may have danced all the way back to the car. The end!

The Great Invitations Debacle... Part One

Way back in happy January, we picked out invitations and save the date cards from Marsupial. Then, seconds before we were about to place the order, I received that fateful phone call of doom. I told the lovely Linda at the stationary store what had happened, and she placed the order on hold for a few months while we waited to find out if the date had to be moved.

It wasn't until May when were able to definitely say that the date would not be changed. And since we had already paid the deposit for the save the date cards, there would be no stopping me from mailing the damn things out. While not really necessary so close to the date, sending them out made me feel better. Not to mention providing the would-be guests with a confirmation that the wedding was still on.

Fast forward to June, and it was time to order invitations. Easier said that done, conflabbit. Matt, Maid of Honor, and I went to the stationary store, where we tried to remember which invitation we picked months and months ago. A hour later, we declared our mission successful and we happily checked order invitations off the list. Or so we thought...

The next day I got a phone call from Linda. Apparently Marsupial was more than willing to charge exorbitant prices for letterpress, then provide less than stellar results. It was so bad that no one realized the sample invitation in the book was letterpressed! Not cool.

Having a high quality typesetting method was important to both of us, so it was time to pick out a new invitation! I arranged to stop by the store after work to look at other brands. Linda was kind enough to lend me one of the giant sample books with which to torture Matt.

With only a couple days until my next dose of chemo, we had to make a new decision that night. Of course, Matt had a test the next day, so he was extra grumpy at the thought of spending a couple hours dealing with the invitations. Luckily for him, I had already gone through the book with Linda and picked out four or five possibilities that we could both agree upon.

We chose a new invitation in record time, including selecting the paper and ink colors. Now we just need the R.S.V.P. cards, insert cards, and thank you cards. Except our stupid invitation did not come with any of them. Of course!

After perusing the entire book, which we had previously tried to avoid, we found pieces. In the end, the R.S.V.P. cards came from a completely different set, though the style matched our invitation perfectly. Well, after we changed the colors, that is. The insert cards and thank you cards were found in the back of the book, in the generic section. After a font and color change, they were declared to be close enough. DONE!

Unfortunately, due to the Hebrew text, we ended up needing an extra proof, which meant we didn't receive the final proof until I was fully drugged up after dose five. In other words, I wasn't in any condition to debate the veracity of the wording for the starting time. I did, however, help by declaring it to be perfectly fine without having any idea what anyone was talking about.

Fast forward a week and half, and we were finally able to have a sober conversation. Final decision? The existing wording was fine, but by then it was well into July. In other words, there was a rush order with overnight shipping in our future. There was no other way to get the invitations in time to mail out before dose six.

The order was placed Tuesday morning, and everything arrived on Thursday. I didn't go to work on Thursday due to nausea, but I was willing to get off the couch for an hour to pick up the invitations. And it was a very good thing I did.

What went wrong? Find out in Part Two!

16 July 2011


I've gotten over being way too young for cancer. Being way too young for menopause, well, that's just the icing on the miserable cake. You see, an unfortunate side effect of chemo is a drastic reduction in estrogen. And what causes menopause? Why, a drastic reduction in estrogen!

In normal women, it's a more gradual process that can take as long as three years, which helps to reduce symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and insomnia. As for me, I had my last period right after chemo started, then BAM! everything hit.

The hot flashes and night sweats are incredibly annoying, but they aren't that bad compared to the nausea and pain. This is especially true when I'm taking all my happy narcotics. On the other hand, the insomnia, coupled with the hallucinations and nightmares, well, that's a major problem. Some nights I can't fall asleep until well after sunup because my brain won't turn off. And when I finally do fall asleep after one of those nights, I'm always in for a particularly nasty nightmare. There's nothing like waking up screaming and having Mom come running in to make sure you are still alive.

Dr. Oncologist said that low estrogen levels is not unusual for someone getting my cocktail of chemo drugs. Everything should return to normal within a few months after my last dose of chemo. However, there is somewhere between a 20 and 30% chance that my reproductive system will stay an unproductive system. If it does return to normal, then I can look forward to another round of menopause (how many people get to say that?) by my mid thirties. And that's why we have ten frozen children in potentia.

15 July 2011

Zombies are real


Quod erat demonstrandum.

11 July 2011

Atkins is for wimps

I have officially lost over fifteen pounds on the chemo diet! Sadly, I think my hair accounted for half of that.

Speaking of hair, I managed to keep my eyelashes and most of my eyebrows. Unfortunately, my right eyebrow hasn't shed evenly and there's a bald spot in the middle. I tried to cover it up with a little eyebrow combover, but if any more falls out, I'll need to upgrade to an eyebrow toupee.

With all these ongoing changes, I can't even consider having my dress altered until after the final dose of chemo. However, that didn't prevent me from accompanying my mom to her dress alteration appointment. I had the honor of helping her with her bustier, the most dreaded female undergarment since the chastity belt.

In between stabbing Mom with pins, the seamstress mentioned that I, too, would need one of those dreaded devices. Since I couldn't talk my way out of it, we decided to go bra shopping after lunch. But not just any bra shopping, spiffy boob measuring store recommended by Black Mamba bra shopping!

Our chauffeur was less than enthusiastic about the idea, so Matt decided to reconnoiter the new Microsoft store instead of getting measured. His loss. I, on the other, found out that I'm really a size 32D. Wait, what? ME? My stupid uppity boob and the other one? Are that big? Okay then.

I ended up getting an obscenely expensive bustier, and I have to admit, the darn thing fits perfectly. And besides, I can't wear just any undies under my wedding dress. After all, I don't want to scare the dress and risk it running away while I'm trying to walk down the aisle.

If I wasn't feeling so crappy at the time, I would have bought the equally overpriced matching panties. I guess I'll have to return to complete the set. It's for the gown's sake, I swear.

10 July 2011

A short list of things I forgot

Since there isn't enough room on the internet for the full list, I was forced to whittle it down to the most important items.

My brother, Ian, took care of me for round three, and he did a magnificent job. He watered all sixteen thousand plants, walked Zero, and, wait for it, cleaned up my puke! On two separate occasions! All this despite my mom calling daily to make sure he hadn't killed me yet.

Skarfin stopped by at some point, even though I was too ill to acknowledge, much less appreciate, his presence at the time. All I really remember from his visit is hearing him chew loudly, two rooms away, over the television.

My brain is growing accustomed to the happy pills known as Percocet. There are significantly fewer hallucinations, and when they do occur, I usually realize that they aren't real.

Zero seems to know that there is something wrong with my legs. When I do allow him in bed or on the couch, he knows to avoid them. This may have something to do with my screaming should he forget this.

Speaking of Zero, the pictures from Take Your Dog to Work Day were mildly disappointing. Since he was willing the chicken strip into his tummy the entire time, he had the same facial expression in every picture. Oh well.

And last, but not least, Bridesmaid Black Mamba sent me a unicorn puzzle. The pieces are largish, which is a good thing as my brain can't handle the small ones right now. Yay unicorns!

09 July 2011

I didn't barf on my birthday!

It's a sad state of affairs when not barfing was my biggest birthday wish. The cumulative effects of chemo meant that even though my birthday was a full week after dose number five, I was still bedridden with nausea and pain on the big day. I'm told that quite a few people called with either good wishes or sales pitches, but I wasn't in any condition to talk to anybody coherently. If you called and I failed to reply in some manner, blame my secretaries. Oh, and I sincerely apologize and all that.

At some point in the late afternoon, it was strongly suggested that I take a bath and put on fresh pajamas. Mom even tried to bribe me with a present that she wouldn't take upstairs. But after a particularly hellish morning, I really didn't want to move. Eventually, I was quasi-voluntarily cleaned, for values of clean not involving soap because it was heavy and I didn't care. And in case that wasn't tiring enough, next came a partially-controlled fall down the stairs with Matt providing support. I swear we are moving into a ranch when this is over. There are too many damn stairs around here.

Once situated on the couch, I declared myself to be inert for the rest of the week. This didn't get me off the hook completely, and I was handed the phone to talk to Dad. He wished me a happy birthday and asked how I was doing. My drug-filled brain probably responded in a fairly indicative manner. He asked if my maid of honor (she really needs a nickname...) was over, which just confused me. Had fewer narcotics been involved, this may have been quite a clue, but alas.

I was dragged into the dining room for a nice birthday dinner, despite my protests. Mom made something out of pieces of cow. Presumably it was good, as I managed to eat three bites. I did not, however, possess the strength to cut the meat on my accord, so Mom had to do it. She also did the plane coming in for a landing routine that is normally reserved for three year olds, which was okay with me as it meant I didn't have to exert effort to lift the heavy fork.

After taking some time to recover from dinner, I requested that cake be served at the couch. Mom said it wasn't time yet. Oh. How about now? Soon. Uh, okay. Back to cartoons. Then she suddenly decided it was cake time. Except she didn't have any party hats, so I needed to put the brown fluffy hat on. Shrug, made sense to me.

Instead of promptly receiving cake, the doorbell rang and in walked my maid of honor! That explains quite a few things that under normal circumstances I would have put together instead of being confused and forgetting them. Upon saying this aloud, Mom made a note to call Dad and beat him over the head for ruining the surprise. When I pointed out that even with his painfully obvious clue I still had no idea, she decided against aggravated assault, at least until she got home.

Now that everyone was present, I finally got to eat my cake. My useless chemo-riddled taste buds declared the plain yellow cake to taste like funnel cake, but at least that falls in the edible category.

After talking for awhile, my maid of honor had to depart. I was out of energy, and she needed to go home for whatever reason that I cannot remember. I truly appreciated her visit, which provided this shut-in with a much needed pick-me-up.