Monday, February 28, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
He's still got a bad heart but maybe he's not quite at death's door like I thought.
Right now, the snow's coming down pretty hard. Either the forecast was wrong or I should've paid more attention because I was only expecting flurries.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Their names are Harold and Sofie. All day long, they sound absolutely joyful, hopping around, chirping and singing.
I never posted what went down at the cancer center that upset me so much two weeks ago. The short version* -
I'd been waiting for that appointment with my medical oncologist for 3 months, since I finished chemo. He was out sick and/or on vacation for the last 5-6 weeks of chemo, so I hadn't seen him since August. I had a list of about 15-20 questions and I was looking forward to getting the answers. He was also supposed to do blood work. There was one test in particular I especially wanted - the tumor marker for endometrial cancer. I should have seen my gynecological oncologist a few weeks earlier but I delayed that appointment so I'd have the results of those tests and answers from the medical oncologist.
They called to cancel at 7:30 a.m. the morning of the appointment. That was the third time they'd canceled me with only a few hours notice. They wanted to rescheduled for 10 days later and I said no. The woman sounded shocked that I would say no. I told her - I'm seeing my gyn onc in 8 days and I want the test results before then.
She offered to get me in with another doctor - no, I've seen 3 other doctors down there and I didn't like any of them. She said I could come in and get the labs and see my doctor at a later date. Okay.
So I go down there, get my blood drawn, wait an hour for results. Then a nurse summons me. One of the few medical oncology nurses that I liked. We're ahead of the game.
She goes over test results with me. All pretty normal. What about the CA125, the tumor marker? Oh, we didn't do that. Why not? The doctor didn't order it 3 months ago. Why not? We don't do that one every time. How often do you do it? I don't know.
At that point I was livid. Totally not her fault but she was the one who had to hear it:
I got shuffled around between 4 different doctors during 6 rounds of chemo. One of them didn't have time to go over my medical info but wanted to pray with me. Read my chart, asshole, I'm not into that shit. The next one told me my cancer had spread to the omentum, which meant I was a lot worse off than I thought. I spent the next 3 weeks in a panic - why hadn't they told me sooner. The next doctor said "Oh she must have misread your chart" and laughed it off. He grabbed my list of questions out of my hand, read it then said "Anything else?" without answering any of them. On top of that, none of the chemo nurses ever seemed the least bit interested in me. I felt like nobody down there gave a shit about me. I didn't realize how really bad they were all treating me - that it wasn't all in my head- until I was done with chemo and started radiation and saw how well I was treated by the doctor and staff on that side of the cancer center.
Nice Nurse, the med onc nurse who listened to my rant that day - seemed genuinely concerned and apologized for all of it. She offered to let me talk to the administrator for their department. I said, "It's too late. I'm done with treatment. If I ever need chemo again, I'll go to Big City, even though I'll have to drive 2 hours. I'll tell everyone I know to do the same."
As a consolation prize, she told me she'd talk to the doctor who was on duty to get an order for the CA125 and I could call back late that afternoon for results. When I called, the woman who took the call said, Oh we didn't do that test. I told her what I'd been told that morning and she said, Oh, well Nice Nurse was wrong - it takes 24 hours for those results.
No it fucking doesn't! Every time they did it, I had the results within an hour. (I left off the fucking but my anger was clear.) So she puts me on hold and goes to talk to someone who knows what the fuck they're talking about.
When she came back, I had to play 20 questions until it came down to, Well, Dr. Your-Cancer-Has-Spread-Farther-ThanYou-Thought hasn't even seen the request yet. It's on her desk, she'll look at it tomorrow.
My last bit of patience evaporated. I told her I was done with them, from now on I'll go to Big City for everything.
About 36 hours later, I got a letter from them saying they had canceled all future appointments at my request. That's when it occurred to me - I have to get my chemo port flushed every 2 months. I'll have to drive 2 hours every 2 months for a 10 minute procedure, on top of driving there every 3 months to see the doctor.
It might be possible to get my port flushed at my family doctor's office or the hospital outpatient department. But I'll have to explain why I don't want to go to the cancer center, and they'll think I must be so hard to get along with, because everyone in town says the cancer center is great.
It's not. I know I'm not the only one who thinks so. Because Nice Nurse told me she's been hearing the same complaints from other patients. And Know-Nothing Phone Answer Lady said lots of people are upset because they're not getting continuity of care and we all have every right to be.
Whew. I wrote it all out.
I'm going to listen to my bird sing now. Joyful. Relaxing.
*Sorry, it turned out to be the long version.
Monday, February 21, 2011
His appetite is getting worse. The only things he's eating are crunchy cat treats, American cheese, and the gravy off his canned food. If he eats more than a few bites at a time, he throws up.
Just now, he gobbled down some treats. I really wanted to keep giving him more but he won't keep any of them down if I do. So I'm feeding him a few treats every hour.
I leave dry food out for him all the time. Mostly he ignores it, but one night after I went to bed, he ate a lot. The next morning, I found little mounds of undigested Meow Mix puked up all over the apartment.
You can see every vertebra in his back and his hip bones are poking out. My poor baby is starving to death, just like Jasmine did, but he doesn't seem to be in pain. When I didn't offer him more treats he just walked away. If he wasn't so sick, he would have begged for more.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
"Canada's the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don't need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you're broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard's baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby's premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home."
The kid's not an airhead.
• The father of a Utah musical group, The Five Browns, has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his three daughters, who are members of the group. The daughters are now adults. The abuse happened when they were 11-12.
• Here's an enraging story about how the banking and mortgage system in this country is so fucked up that even people who have NEVER MISSED A PAYMENT are being foreclosed on.
• Here's an even more enraging story about how the Obama administration is letting banks get away with this shit.
• On the lighter side, while normal people are losing their homes, Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to dress your daughter in a $72 campshirt and $82 pajamas. And she wonders why people don't like her.
• There's no fool like an old fool.
• Laura Campanello was upset because she thought another woman at her son's school was displaying too much cleavage so she whipped out her own boob's to protest. That'll show 'em?
• Epic WTFs
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
1) He could see vaginal damage from radiation but he thinks it will heal well. Everything else looks good.
2) He didn't do pap smear because it would most likely show abnormal cells from radiation damage and just give me something to worry about when everything's okay.
3) He's going to see me every 3 mos and will do paps at all future exams.
4) He plans to do a CT scan one year after I finished treatment unless I have symptoms that cause concern.
5) He wants to keep scans to a minimum because he thinks all the radiation potentially does more harm than good. It could cause another cancer. He further explained this in a way that made sense but I'm not sure I can explain it: By the time something shows up on CT or PET, I would probably already have symptoms, and/or it wouldn't change the treatment or outcome if we didn't know it was there until I did have symptoms. Also, he said most insurance won't cover PET unless there is a good reason, like something showed up on CT.
6) He doesn't think CA125 would really tell us anything for my type of cancer but it might give false alarms, which would lead to unnecessary scans and more radiation exposure, so it's not worth doing.
7) He said that if I have a recurrence, it will most likely be within the next 2 years. And it will most likely show up in the vaginal cuff or rectum first.
8) He recommends that I keep my chemo port until the 2 years have passed unless it's causing problems. (It's not but it'll be a nuisance to get it flushed every 2 months.)
9) He said he expects my neuropathy will gradually improve but it'll probably never be back to 100% of where I was before chemo.
10) I'm going to arrange mammogram and colonoscopy through my family doctor.
11) He said it's really important to keep doing followups but he believes I'll have a full cure. The cancer was contained within a relatively small area, he thinks he got it all with surgery, and we treated it aggressively with chemo and radiation which should have knocked out any residual cells.
All in all, I feel really hopeful.
Wait a minute. Me? Feeling hopeful? Something weird's going on here.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
She was rescued by a group of women and Egyptian soldiers. She's now hospitalized in the U.S.
Logan is one of my favorite tv journalists. She's tough and smart and well-informed. Women always pay a special price when they dare to venture out into the world. Or when they stay home. Or when they're awake or asleep.
More on Logan's assault.
Update - this is from Slate:
A small survey of female war reporters ... was done by the International News Safety Institute, in which more than half the 29 women polled said they had been sexually assaulted, and two said they had been raped. But almost none of them told anyone:
Even when the abuse is rape, few correspondents tell anyone, even friends. The shame runs so deep—and the fear of being pulled off an assignment, especially in a time of shrinking budgets, is so strong—that no one wants intimate violations to resound in a newsroom.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Now, I don't give a shit anymore. If they find my blog and they don't like it or they don't like me because of it, they can just go watch this.
Girl cat who died on Friday was Jasmine. Boy cat who's still with me is Percival.
I just got back from the vet. He wouldn't refill the Rx for Percival's meds unless I brought him in for an exam. He wasn't being unreasonable - the last time he'd seen Percival was October 2009.
So I put Percival through all the stress of getting boxed up and hauled to the vet only to hear what I already knew - he's got heart disease, he's already survived longer than any of us expected, and at some point, the med is going to stop working and he'll die. He's nearing that point.
He's got very little appetite. When he does eat more than a few bites at a time, he throws up. He's also got some suspicious lumps on his belly that are probably cancer.
When we got home, he jumped out of the box and rushed around the apartment frantically meowing. I think he was looking for Jasmine. He went to all of her normal sleeping places. Then he jumped up on the back of the couch and walked over to the indentation where she would normally be sleeping this time of day. He sniffed it then stepped onto the windowsill behind it and sat there staring at Jasmine's spot.
It broke my heart.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I keep forgetting she's dead. When I sat down at my desk this morning, my feet landed on my fuzzy slippers. I thought it was GC at first - she liked to sleep there. Every so often, I look over at one of her usual sleeping places expecting to see her.
Just now, when I came to my blog, I scrolled down the page and saw the post that she died. It was a bit of a shock - I'd temporarily forgotten she was gone.
Boy cat usually goes off by himself to sleep in the afternoon and evening. He's been staying near me, sleeping in a spot where he can see my every move. If I leave the room, he follows me.
His appetite is poor and I can tell he's losing weight. Last week, I had planned to call the vet to make an appointment for him but I kept forgetting. He has to be seen before they'll refill his Rx. Maybe a med adjustment will improve his appetite. I'll call on Monday but I probably won't be able to get him in till the end of the week.
I have to see my gyn-oncologist on Tuesday. That's when I should find out what my official status is - am I in remission? Should I say I have cancer or that I had cancer? What happens now?
I still need to blog about what happened with my chemo doctor on Monday. That's the shit that kept me so distracted that I forgot to make Boy Cat's appointment and I didn't spend enough time with Girl Cat.
But I'm so pissed off about what happened with the cancer center I can't write about it yet.
Boy Cat just jumped on top of my keyboard, nudging me for attention. I moved him off to the side and he's sitting there purring. It occurred to me - if I knew this was my last day, how would I want to spend it? Sitting here blogging? Surfing the net? Visiting friends and family? Going somewhere nice?
No, I'd want to spend it cuddling with my cats. Even if only one of them is here now, they're all with me - all the cats I've ever loved.
Jasmine, Carolina, Casey, Clancy, Natasha, Gabby, Diamond, Diablo, TC ...
They're my soft place.
A few political quickies:
• Sarah Palin did not call Rick Santorum a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal.
• There they go again. Republicans still can't get over the fact that a Muslim Communist Nazi *cough* black *cough* Democrat got elected president.
• Last night, my beloved congressman Steve King was on Lawrence O'Donnell. LO kept pounding him on why he didn't correct the idiots at his town hall meeting who said Obama is Muslim. O'Donnell seemed to miss the point - King needs his supporters to remain ignorant. They wouldn't vote for him if they weren't.
Friday, February 11, 2011
She'd been doing a slower version of all her normal activities - sleeping, eating, drinking, cuddling and sleeping some more. The last couple of days she was throwing up a lot. Last night, I was debating whether or not I should try some hairball remedy for her. She always hated that and it would've meant pinning her down and cramming it down her throat. I didn't want to do that to her, and I had the sense it wasn't hairballs anyway.
I haven't been sleeping. When I went to bed around 6 a.m., baby girl was eating.
When I woke up at 10 a.m. to go to the bathroom, boy cat was begging for food. So I put the food out. Usually, girl cat would show up as soon as I started opening the can. I knew something was wrong when she didn't. I expected to find her sleeping somewhere, possibly weak and getting ready to die.
She was curled up right under the head of my bed. She was already cold.
I'm so grateful I didn't have to make the decision to put her down. I'm relieved that she didn't suffer the way little bird did.
Fifteen years. She saved my life over and over again. There were so many times I came close to killing myself and she would always come to me and curl up with me and purr. Last summer, on the days I was really sick from chemo, she would stay by my side every minute.
I knew she didn't have long but I wasn't mentally prepared for it to happen so fast.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
The female hasn't shown any signs of illness. I'm planning to get a new companion for her. Today I took away the remaining 2 eggs in her nest. They had been laid more than a month ago and would've hatched by now if they were viable. She had already pushed the other 2 out. If I tried to introduce a new bird when she had eggs, she would've flipped out trying to defend them.
Now I'll wait a few days before I bring a new bird home so she won't associate him with the loss of her eggs.
Yesterday, I had an appointment with my chemo doctor. They called me at 7:30 a.m. to cancel the appointment because he was sick. That's the third time it's happened.
I have more to write about all that but I'll save it for later. The short version is I'm pissed.
Sunday, February 06, 2011
At the moment, boy cat is sitting on my mouse. At least I got him off the keyboard. He's overly affectionate lately because I keep giving him treats. He hasn't been eating regular food but he'll gobble down the treats and bits of American cheese. He'll also take nibbles of whatever I'm eating - chicken, turkey, ham, bread, lettuce, corn. But he won't eat those things if I put them in a dish for him.
Even with treats though, he only takes a few bites at a time. Later he comes back for more.
Girl cat is eating better than boy cat, but she's losing weight because she throws up all the time. Her abdomen is bulging more and she's walking funny. I'm not sure how much longer either one of them will last.
Little bird seems weaker today but he's still dragging himself around the cage and eating and drinking. It amazes me that any creature would fight so hard to live.
But I feel like I'm surrounded by death.
But it's still funny. Party on!
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Here's my hair 4 months after chemo ended. Some of my curl's starting to come back.
As for little bird, he seems to be getting stronger - just slightly - and he's eating and drinking more. If he pulls out of this, it'll be a miracle.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
I nursed him back to health and bought a female zebra finch to keep him company. They did great together, then he started losing feathers again and got to the point where he was so weak, he couldn't hold on to the perch. I put food and water in the bottom of the cage and got him some millet sprays. He got well again - was flying and hopping around and singing.
The female laid four eggs and they were happily taking turns tending them. Last week, he suddenly got sick again. He kept falling off the perch and lost feathers again, more than ever.
I noticed the female pecking at him and guarding the food, so I moved him to a separate cage. He's been getting weaker. For the last 4 or 5 days, he hasn't been able to stand and he can't fly but he puts his beak down and drags and scoots himself around the cage. Every morning, I expect to find him dead.
He's suffering and I've thought about putting him out of his misery. But he's still eating a little. I can't kill him when he seems to have the will to live.
It makes me think about what I would want to happen if my cancer comes back and I know I'm going to die. I don't have an answer.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
The blond guy in the black hoodie is Brad Pitt, going through airport security. It made me wonder if he worries about that supposedly top secret scanner picture ending up in the National Enquirer. And if he is worried, does he play pocket pool while he's waiting in line just so he'll look his best?
Or does he opt for the groping?
I'm remembering this because Saturday night when I was leaving for the place where I walk, one of my tires was very low. I took a risk and drove about six blocks to the nearest place where they have air for your tires. The machine turned on and it was blowing out air, but my tire wasn't getting full. I wasn't sure if my tire was leaking or what.
It was damn cold outside and with all my aches and pains left over from chemo, it really hurt to squat down there to try to work on it. I would have gladly paid someone to fill it for me if there'd been anyplace that would do that on a Saturday night.
So I went to another gas station and used the air there and it worked. Filled my tire right up. It was the little doo-hickey on the end of the hose - for some reason, the one at the first place just would not fit onto my valve correctly.
The tire seems to be fine now.
Nowadays, people are willing to pay a lot for conveniences. It's time for full-service gas stations to come back in style. They could make a killing.
Hell, if I was young and ambitious, I would lurk around gas stations and offer to fill people's tanks and clean their windows for five bucks. I bet there'd be some takers.