31 August 2011

Red is the new green

Apparently Herceptin can cause heart problems, so Dr. Oncologist declared that it was time for another MUGA scan. Having not been injected with chemicals in nearly three weeks, I suppose I was due for an IV. Not that I wanted one, but they have become a normal part of life.

Sadly, beating the odds to have something go wrong has also become a normal part of life. That is why I have trouble believing the doctor when she says things like, "You are young, so you're heart is fine. It's usually only seniors that have heart problems from chemotherapy." And I'm so young that it's probably just a benign cyst.

With all that in mind, I flat out refuse to go to the doctor alone. Even for a simple scan. So Matt drove me to doctor's office, via Starbucks, this morning. Things immediately went downhill.

"Your appointment is for September second, not today."

"Excuse me?"

The receptionist pulled up the doctor's order to show me. Lo and behold, I was right! Huzzah! Except that because the date had magically mutated between the order and the computer, they didn't have the radioactive goop ready. Could I wait a an hour and half? Sure, that sounds delightful!

Matt and I decided to be more useful than the receptionist and headed over to the tailor shop to have Matt's new suit tailored. Not the epitome of excitement, but better than waiting in the reception area.

Upon our return to the doctor's office, everything was ready. The technician plunged and IV into my right arm and prepared to draw 3mL of blood. Except blood refused to come out. I was already nervous that something horrible was wrong with my heart, and now he couldn't get any blood out of that nice, thick vein? AGGHHHH! Panic!

He explained that this occasionally happens due to valves in veins. He could keep trying to get blood out of the current hole, or he could poke a new one in another vein. I opted for door number two, if only so I wouldn't have to see my vein, and therefore my heart, keep failing.

Hole number two was a success, and I happily escaped to the reception area to wait for them to attach radioactive markers to the extracted red blood cells.

When the blood mixture was ready, the technician came for me, lead medical box in hand. It's always fun to get an injection from one of those. Glass syringes in lead sheathes always make me feel safe.

I started feeling yucky while in the scanner, but that's nothing new. By the time we were in the car and heading towards my office, my face was burning and was noticeably red. Just once, I'd like turn to into a green super villain, but, alas, the nuclear medicine injections are always benign.

Matt pointed out that if I walked into the office looking like I did, it would be "suggested" that I go home. He also had this crazy idea about calling the doctor. Both sounded like excellent ideas. The doctor said that reactions aren't unheard of and I should take a Claritin and call back if I didn't return to normal in an hour or two. More excellent ideas.

The Claritin returned my face to its normal color, but it didn't completely alleviate the general yuckiness. Clearly things were getting boring again, as I discovered an itchy rash while typing this post. An itchy rash right next to the injection site, inside my right elbow.


I left a message for Dr. Oncologist, and as of right now, I am still waiting for her to call back. Further updates as this story develops.

21 August 2011

A.BMW.C. Gum

Something about this squished piece of chewing polyisobutylene appealed to me.


Dear Mr. Mathew Waypost

The <name of hoa, incorrectly spelled> Home Association should assessed the late charges in amount of $20.00 for late payment your monthly due.

Please make the payment of monthly fee $385.00 plus $20.00 late charges, and drop your check in <unit number>.

Thank you.
<name of hoa, correctly spelled>.

So, should we acknowledge this validity of this missive, or should we refuse to pay on the theory that it's Mathew Waypost's bill, whoever he might be?

17 August 2011

I left the house!

I spent the weekend having fun, being social, and acting like a normal person. Or at least a normal person lacking hair. But I didn't let that stop me, though a lack of energy was always ready to step in and knock me down.

Saturday brought Loretta, paint, and twenty-five welcome baskets. The combination of the three resulted in four hours of silliness, with a lunch break provided by Matt. And, yet, we both agreed that it was somehow relaxing to be painting outside, under the trees. Zero also enjoyed his relaxing afternoon in the sun, except when he pretended to guard us from a squirrel.

While I have pictures of our messy victory, I have decided not to share so those receiving the baskets can still be surprised. My decision had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the pictures are all on Loretta's phone.

On Sunday, I got even farther from my front door! Matt and I had lunch with my cousin, followed by mall exploration. We spent the time catching up and talking about her sister's wedding, which I had missed. I also made two high quality purchases.

Yes, that is a Storm Trooper spatula, from Spatula City. I mean Williams Sonoma. How could I not buy such a perfect kitchen utensil? And what is that next to it? Well, that's what happens when Matt buys a Swiss Army golf tool in a knife store and fails to prevent me from looking at all the shiny, pointy objects. This model happens to be called "Shrimp", and it is also available in lavender. But pink seemed so much more appropriate. What will I use it for? I'll just let you ponder that question.

15 August 2011

Herceptin is the new Lunesta

On Thursday, despite much protest, I took a little trip to see Dr. Oncologist, where I was tied up and thrown under a bus. Or I was given a three-week dose of Herceptin. Those of you with memories may recall that I'd been receiving Herceptin during all six rounds of evil chemo. However, the nasty side-effects of Taxotere completely blocked the virtually non-existent side-effects of Herceptin.

The rest of the day, and every day since, were filled with bouts of nausea that magically appeared at the least useful times possible. Of course, the nausea is left over from the Taxotere, and it is theoretically fading into oblivion. The new problem is a complete lack of energy. As in I don't want to change the channel because lifting my arm takes too much effort.

Dr. Oncologist warned me that the Herceptin can make you tired. And when combined with my low red blood cell counts, I am certainly definitely lacking in the energy department. In fact, just typing this post is taking quite a bit of effort.

I did manage to get out and have some fun over the weekend. I'd tell you all about it, but that requires typing, and my fingers are rapidly approaching sleepytime. Ergo, I am simply going to make you wait until tomorrow, or perhaps the weekend. So there.

09 August 2011

Cancerland doesn't suck as much as it used to

Admittedly, I've been more than a little celebratory over the end of chemo, despite the ever present nausea. Of course, this Thursday is my first dose of only Herceptin. I'm slightly nervous about it, but, really, how bad can it possibly be compared to the Taxotere? It's not supposed to cause a week's worth of bed-ridden death, nausea, or further hair loss. Of course, the Taxotere wasn't supposed to cause an allergic reaction and keep me home from work for two weeks at a time. So you can see why I'm a bit skeptical when Dr. Oncologist says that the Herceptin is hardly noticeable. And since I still have eight months worth of Herceptin in front of me, I really hope she's right about the side effects.

In other news from side effects land, my hair is doing a remarkable job of regaining its former glory. Well, remarkable when compared to other chemo patients. The back of my head and behind my ears has a noticeable amount of hair, the longest of which are approaching the one centimeter mark. Sadly, the front and top of my head is more in the one millimeter range. In other words, I won't be needing a hair cut any time soon. But at least it is growing.


Months and months ago, Matt and I decided that when chemo was over, we would get the hell out of town for a few days. Last Wednesday, we decided to implement the aforementioned plan. After throwing around some ideas, we decided that a beach resort with an excellent spa would be perfect. I could get massages, facials, and quality time doing nothing without overexerting myself. And Matt could enjoy the freezing cold Pacific ocean.

It didn't occur to either of us that planning a last second trip to a California beach resort in August would involve fully booked hotels. Our first choice, whatever it was, didn't have any rooms available. We were forced to make due with The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.

Thursday morning, I received a call from the event manager handling our wedding. Apparently I faxed a form to the wrong office. Silly me for using the fax number at the bottom of the form. Anyway, she asked me about my weekend plans, and I mentioned our trip south to Laguna Niguel.

A few hours later, we arrived to the sad news that our room wasn't ready. After a half hour of exploring the resort, we discovered that we had been magically upgraded to the club wing. And while the ridiculous smorgasbord, club-only concierge, and fully stocked bar are nice benefits, the nicest surprise was waiting for us in our room. We found an ice bucket chilling a bottle of rosé Moet Imperial champagne, sprinkled with rose petals, and a lovely note from our event manager. Now that's the perfect way to start a relaxing, celebratory weekend. Except I still can't drink!

I was not missing this opportunity, especially considering our event manager had even remembered that I preferred rosés! I deemed this to be an emergency worthy of calling Dr. Oncologist. And after explaining the dire situation to her, she determined that it would be best for all involved if I had just one glass.

With the help of a wet suit, I actually went in the ocean. But my legs were still too weak to deal with the strong riptides, so I was more than happy to sit under an umbrella and read. Or sit by the pool and read. Or spend quality time in the spa.

Friday morning I woke up early for a 90 minute massage, which did wonders for achy legs. While the effects started fading the next day, it was wonderful to walk around like a normal person for a full afternoon.

Saturday morning I went back to the spa, this time for a hydration facial. Before applying a myriad of creams, the aesthetician attacked my face, along with my easily accessed scalp, with what was essentially a giant electric toothbrush. In her words, my "dead skin just sloughed off" from my scalp. I'll assume this was a good thing as the skin covering my entire head looked much better when she was done. Another successful trip to the spa!

By the time we left on Sunday, both of us were a lot more relaxed, and, in my case, physically better. Now if only the stupid nausea would go away, everything would be perfect.

06 August 2011

How to get licensed in the state of California

In between bouts of nausea and the desire to collapse and never move again, Matt took me out for some small errands this week. One of those was getting a marriage license. Our wedding planner provided us with the official guide, which listed the courthouses providing licenses. As we were planning on going to the valley afterwards for some fun with numismatics (West Los Angeles is severely lacking in that department, unlike the valley), a courthouse in the valley would have been very convenient. Alas, the least inconvenient one listed required a trip to Beverly Hills.

After successfully clearing the magnetometer, we happily discovered that there was no line. The clerk asked us if we had filled out the forms online. "Online?" we asked. I had checked the website earlier in the morning to check their hours, and I saw nothing about filling out forms online. Oh well, it wasn't exactly rocket science, and there was a large table to sit at. The nice clerk even provided a *working* pen.

While Matt filled in his section, I read the instructions. Being a good engineer, I normally would ignore the instructions until something caught fire, but I had to wait for my turn to write. The first thing I discovered was the existence of more marriage license providing courthouses than indicated by the official guide. Not only was there one in the valley, in Van Nuys, but the LAX courthouse had also got in on the act. The same LAX courthouse that is all of five minutes from our house. Either would have been much more convenient. Useless.

I decided not to explode, as it would make a big mess all over the form. And it was my turn to write, anyway. Name? Have you been married before? Parents' birth names? Address? Mailing address? Why was there no checkbox to indicate that they are the same address so I didn't have to write the whole thing twice? New middle name? New last name? Hmmm, things have gotten interesting.

I already decided forever ago that I wanted to take Matt's more interesting-than-mine last name. If nothing else, it will make my life easier, at least after I fill out six million change of name forms. So I filled in my new last name for the first time. As for new middle name, I left that blank. According to the form, I could hyphenate my current middle name with my current last name. Eww. No thank you.

Having survived the great renaming debacle, we once again waited on the non-existent line to submit our spiffy form. The clerk looked it over and asked if I was sure about not changing my middle name. That's when I found out I could have two unhyphenated middle names. Yet another form lied to me, the heathen. Two middles names for me!

Finally, it was time for the fun part. We raised our hands and swore that we had filled out the form to the best of our knowledge and that we had signed in the appropriate virginal blood.

With all the other details taken care of, how would we like to pay? Apparently the website and the official guide wanted to further aggravate us, as cash and check are no longer the only options; now MasterCard, Discover, and American Express are accepted. You'll note that I didn't include Visa in that list, for which the clerk had no good explanation.

After paying, we had to wait about ten minutes for the official documents to be generated. I was slightly disappointed at how boring the finished product was. I could have made it myself in all of ten minutes. At least this one was real. Now we just have to make sure it gets used within the next ninety days. Gee, if only we had something planned.

02 August 2011

Some important issues must be addressed

During each dose of chemo, the small group of foods that I was willing to eat changed radically. For instance, during my last dose, I had (I just love that I can refer to chemo in the past tense now!) an overwhelming desire for Trix. When my minions provided me with the magical cereal, I was nearly moved to tears by the atrocities floating in milk - the individual fruit shapes were replaced with two-color orbs! They were basically painted, and more sugary, Kix! With everything else going on, such disappointment was not welcome. But I ate something like two boxes anyway, out of spite. I showed them.

My dad left yesterday morning, so we went out to dinner on Sunday night to celebrate the end of chemo. I picked The Smokin Joint, a delicious barbecue restaurant at the corner of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Upon arrival, we faced a small sign that read "On Vacation! Back soon!" The papered-over windows and giant application for change in ownership notice slightly contradicted the "back soon" claim. How dare they be closed when I was finally out of the house to celebrate! The nerve! Well, at the very least, it explained how we found an empty meter directly in front of the restaurant.

Matt requested that I not explode, as it would be a waste of all the chemo that I just went through. I think he was just worried about it's affect on the leather upholstery. So he started suggesting nearby restaurants that were significantly more likely to be accepting customers. I settled for The Stinking Rose, a restaurant that I love, even when I have my heart set of barbecue. Woe was me, but I managed to eat an entire bowl of garlic soup.

Finally, I have some choice words for delivery companies. Various gifts have been arriving since we sent out the invitations. The boxes without any external warnings always arrive in perfect condition. The boxes marked "FRAGILE" all over always arrive sans the rhinoceros that sat upon it.

On that note, I leave you some xkcd yumminess: http://xkcd.com/931/