Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are We Really That Disconnected?

Some of you may remember last year when I conducted a little social experiment. Actually, it wasn't meant to be an experiment, it was only meant to be a random act of kindness but because it took so long to be taken it kind of turned into that.

Well the Christmas season is upon us again and while I do commit random acts of kindness through the year I tend to do them more at this time of year. I think sometimes, people need it more at this time of year. People are more stressed and harried around the holidays. Suicide rates jump, depression spikes....

A few weeks ago I picked up a few $5 Tim Horton's cards, printed out some notes about receiving a random act of kindness and passing the love on, etc and put them into envelopes in my purse. When the opportunity has presented itself (a public place with no one around) I've been leaving the envelopes to be found.

This morning I left my last envelope in a shopping cart in WalMart. The envelope was decorated with Christmas stickers and said OPEN ME on it. A few minutes after I left it there I saw a women walk past me with the cart. She was my age, maybe a bit younger, with two young children in the cart. The envelope was still there untouched. She could see it, no doubt but I guess had chosen to not open it. I tried to keep an eye on her to see if she would open it or put it in her purse but she had a scowl on her face and made a beeline to the clothing section so I lost her and didn't see her again. So, I really don't know if she opened the envelope or if she left and and someone else got it. Judging by the look on her face she probably could have used the cheering up.

I got to thinking though, why didn't she open it right then? Was she afraid it belonged to someone else? It was just sitting in the basket of the cart, the cart was in the area with all the other carts. There was nothing else in the cart (no old flyers or bags or anything) so it didn't get mixed with garbage. Maybe I'm on my own in this but if I saw an envelope that said OPEN ME with Christmas stickers, I'd open it, just out of curiosity sake and if need be, if it looked like something someone lost I'd turn it into customer service (much like finding a wallet) But if I'd opened that envelope I'd have seen it was for me.

I'm sure there is someone out there who is as nosey as me who will open it and will hopefully get a smile from it.

Last night I was watching the news and this story was on.  The reporter was at the scene and was stopping people and asking them had they seen it happening would they have called the police. Make note of that, she didn't ask if they'd step in to stop it, just if they'd call the police. I was astounded at how many people said no. NO! Can you believe that??

I get not getting in the middle of it to stop it. Once, many years ago when Sean and I first started dating we were out for a walk and a guy and girl were having a screaming match at a gas station. Sean was concerned for the girl and being from an insanely small town and not really grasping big city dynamics he wanted to go and assist her. I quite literally had to hold him back and explain why that wasn't a safe idea but that we would call the police, which we did.  But for all those people to say the wouldn't even call the cops?

Is that what our world is coming to? People are so self absorbed now that they turn a blind eye to both crime and good deeds? Is it that shocking to think someone might just want to do some good for the sake of doing good? Or that someone would do what's right and help someone in need?

Was I brought up differently  than other people? I don't think so.

I didn't grow up 'priveleged'. Our family struggled financially for most of my young life. Despite that, my brothers and I never went without. We had food, clothes, toys, a roof over our heads. We might of whined and complained that we didn't have the latest gadgets (like Commodore 64) or the coolest clothes (like Johnny G jeans) but we also lived in a neighbourhood where we saw a lot of families who had a hell of a lot less than we did.

One particular year a family moved in next door to us; a single mom and her three very young daughters. That Christmas my mom organized a drive among the neighbours; all families who had financial hardships just like ours, to collect toys, clothes and food for this young family so that those three little girls would have a Christmas. Because otherwise, they wouldn't have.

I got to go with my mom to the neighbours house to drop off the box to them and I'll never forget the Mom crying and thanking my mom and I'll never forget one of the little girls squealing because there was a baby doll in the box for her.

Why is it that those who have the least to give, give the most?

It sounds hypocritical of me. I spent upwards of $300 per child this Christmas and more on Sean. They're getting the latest gadgets and the brand names. Because I can. But, what I'm making sure is not lost on them is that they are lucky to have these things and that they are lucky to have the life they do. Because so many don't.  They know the story of our neighbourhood toy drive and for years we did one too (with my home daycare)  This year Mary stepped it up with selling her stuffed animals for toy drive money. I'm taking her shopping tonight. If we shop right, she can get a lot of toys to donate for $55 she got.  I'm proud of her and she's proud of herself.

It makes me sad to see stories like that one on the news. I must be a hopeless optimistic to think that the world is a better place than that. I'd like to think my little corner of it is. I believe in the goodness of people.

I challenge you all to commit a random act of kindness this holiday season. If you've ever been lucky enough to receive one, you know how they can really make a person's day. And the payoff is great because while I might not know if that lady with the two kids opened the envelope, I'm most certain someone did and I'll bet they smiled and felt good and that makes ME feel good. 

What more could a person ask for?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Baked Beans

**I can't take credit for this recipe. I got it from the March 2011 issue of Chatelaine.  All my other recipes are also borrowed but have been adapted by me in some way to make it my own. This one however, was not and well, I don't want to get nailed for stealing a recipe**  As a side note, if you don't already have one, I would highly recommend a subscription to this fine magazine. There is not an issue that goes by that doesn't have at least one amazing recipe in it and it's not all 'magazine recipes' that real people and real families wouldn't eat. And if you can get through the 80 million ads there are some good articles too.

But I'm getting off track.

If you're like me, baked beans are a comfort food. I love that musical fruit. And the thing about baked beans is that it works as a stand alone meal or a side.  However, if you're further like me you like to avoid canned foods. The sodium content in a can of baked beans is through the roof. And one can of baked beans will do one, maybe two people in our house. So in a family of 5, that's a lot of cans of beans. Not so economical.

Beans can be tough to make though, you need patience when cooking with dry beans because otherwise you'll end up cracking a tooth. This particular recipe is for the slow cooker - so it takes the pressure off of the wait.  Throw it in the pot in the early morning and when you get home from work, you're set.

I usually double this recipe because they freeze really, really well.

Baked Beans

1 onion, chopped
4 slices of bacon (I like to use back bacon, it's thicker and tastier)
1/2 cup of fancy molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
2 cups of dry navy beans, rinsed
1 bottle of beer (the recipe calls for de-alcoholized beer but the alcohol will cook off so don't worry about it)
3 cups of water

Now here's the hard part. Put it all into the crock pot, turn it low and cook for 10 hours. (I do mine on high for 6 hours and they cook nicely too)

You do not need to pre soak your beans for this recipe. There is so much water and beer that they cook really nicely and what liquid doesn't get absorbed by the beans reduces nicely.

Talk about your simple recipes.


Enjoy!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Too Shall Pass....

I've tried to write this post twice now but between chemo fog (apparently a real thing, much like baby brain) percocet fog and very tender fingertips (making it uncomfortable to type as quickly as I normally do) I'm having trouble getting the words out.

It will be short and sweet today.

It sucks. It hurts (for those who've had children, think childbirth but in all your joints and no lag time between contractions) I've had some pretty bizarre dreams in the last couple of days (Chemo? Perks? Who knows) and I've probably sweat off 20 lbs  but no matter what kind complaining I do, I will take these side effects over the other ones ANY DAY!!  The pain is manageable (as long as I remember to take my pills every 4 hours, not a minute later) and I'm not even the slightest bit nauseous.  I have no energy but my mom took one for the team this weekend and had the kids for me so I could do absolutely nothing but sit on the couch or lie in bed and get better.

I'm feeling better today. I'm going to take it easy and by tomorrow I should be back on my feet. I've got a busy week ahead. The Whitby Santa Claus Parade is on Saturday and my Mom, Connor and I are walking in it, representing Papa's Pride in the Canadian Cancer Society's section. And then that afternoon is Mary's Hawaiian Luau birthday party and  her bff is sleeping over. And then my favorite part....the Christmas tree is going up on Sunday!! Hooray!!

But for now, I need a shower.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday - Johanna G Photography

When I was younger (and truthfully, even now) I would look at pictures in National Geographic and think "wow, I want take pictures like that!"

Sean bought me a Nikon D3000 for Christmas a couple of years ago and I read books and scoured the internet and practiced and practiced and practiced. 

I'm not bad. Out of every 100 pictures I take I get 3 or 4 that I really love, that I think are good, not just to me but to others as well.

But, professional quality, I am most certainly not.

Today's plug goes to Johannah G Photography 

In the interest of full disclosure, I've never had photos done by Johannah, but only because we live 3 hours away from one another.
However, I've seen hundreds of her photos over the past year or so and her talent is growing. She's got a great eye and a way with her subjects that brings out some beautiful pictures.

Johannah's talent doesn't just lie in portraits, I've seen landscapes and more recently some pictures she took in Quebec City of the old architecture and well, they are just gorgeous.

If you're in the Southern Ontario area and need some great photography done, I would highly recommend contacting her. You won't be sorry. In the meantime, check out her Facebook Page and all her gorgeous pictures and don't forgot to 'Like' her while you're there.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

So Far, So Good

I don't want to jinx it though.

I went to dinner last night with my Mom, Sean, my Aunt, my cousin and two friends to celebrate my Dad's birthday. We went to Harpos. It was an excellent meal, despite my not feeling too great. I had the onion soup, salmon fillet and cherry cheesecake.

The side effects of this treatment are starting to kick in. I woke at 2 hour intervals all night last night. My face and neck are quite red. My mouth is tingling, though I'm being very religious about brushing and rinsing with the prescription strength mouthwash after every meal. My mouth feels much like how it feels after you've burned your mouth on coffee of hot soup. If I can keep the mouth sores away I'll be a happy camper.

My legs and back are aching too. I've got my percocets but I'm rationing, my oncologist thinks Tylenol 3's should do the trick...I don't know though. I took one before dinner last night and it didn't do squat. The problem is the percs make me loopy. Can't win for trying.

But again, so far, the side effects of this are a hell of a lot better than the side effects of the red devil so I'll take it.  I'm just a little edgy.

In my effort to purge my house of all that is clutter we had to address the issue of Mary's stuffed animals. Mary had upwards of 100 stuffed animals that she was having a hard time parting with. I didn't want to insist she just dump them off at Value Village and we could have freecycled them but I wanted to find a way of making it more meaningful for her. So I came up with a plan.

We made up bags of 10 stuffies (Webkinz and Build A Bears) and posted them for sale online. We offered each bag for $5 each. Mary will then take the money she gets for those stuffies to buy toys for the local toy drive. I posted the ad yesterday morning and she's already sold all of her bags (plus a few people donated without actually buying and stuffies) and she's raised $55!! So next week when I'm feeling better I'll take her out to buy a load of toys to drop off at the fire hall. I'm so proud of her (and she is so proud of herself too!) 

And though she's got the reward of knowing she's done something remarkable,  paid it forward and done some good in the world, she's still young and I don't want her to go unrewarded, she did, after all, purge over 70 much loved stuffed  animals. So I matched each sale and she now has $50 of her own to spend in anyway she wants. (after her birthday and Christmas of course!)

My post is a little jumpy today, my apologies. I'm fogged by chemo and percocets but I'm here, I'm doing pretty good so far and hoping it doesn't get much worse.

Happy Saturday everyone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

65

Today would have been my Dad's 65th birthday. I truly think that with how my Dad's health was over the last 10 years, with his diabetes and heart he didn't think he'd ever see 65. But despite that, not one of us every in a million years thought it would be cancer that took him from us.

I suspect it will be a sad day today, wishing we could have him here to celebrate such a milestone birthday. Tonight many of us will get together at a nice restaurant my Dad liked and have dinner together to celebrate his birthday and toast him and his contribution to our lives and our world.

As much as I wish my Dad could still be here I take solace in knowing he's up in Heaven rooting for me, praying for me and putting in a good word for me. He's one of my many strengths and like my Dad, I'm a fighter. He'll help me beat cancer, I know that without a doubt.

But I still wish I could hug him when I'm scared.

I miss you Dad.
Happy Birthday.
I love you.


Dad, me and Mom on my wedding day. March, 1998


Dad, me, Mary Jo and Emily, sometime in 2003



Dad and Connor kisses. This one hangs above Connor's bed.
 

Mary Jo and Papa share a yawn.



Dad and his Mom Eva, my Grandma/Memere


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Number 4 DONE!!

This was truly the longest day ever. Okay, maybe next to the day I had my mastectomy. But damn it was long.
My treatment was scheduled for 9 so my brother came for me at 8 (rush hour traffic and all) We were moved from the usual Thursday to Wednesday because the nurses at the chemo clinic are all attending a seminar or conference tomorrow.

I saw my oncologist right away, and again, I can't stress enough how much I love this guy, he's so very calming even with his frank, to the point bedside manner. He's also gentle and comforting without coddling. Anyhow, he said my blood levels were great. I read my sheet and some of my levels were in the category of being out of the norm (chemo fog will not allow me to remember the word for that category right now) but for instance the normal range for red blood count is 3.80-something and mine was 3.55. Low but not low enough to warrant missing a treatment or a neulasta shot (that's a bone marrow booster and I understand from some new friends also battling breast cancer that it's quite bitch, burning bone pain and such so I'm glad I don't need it.) It's insanely expensive and though my insurance would cover it I'd have to miss a treatment first.

Also, my stress echo results came back and I'm so happy (and relieved in light of the chest pains I've been having) that all my heart functions are completely normal and there are no concerns for a significant cardiac episode. That was my baseline test and I'll have to have it done about every three months for the next year while I'm having my herceptin treatments because it does have an affect on the heart.

So, because this was my first treatment with both herceptin and docetaxel (taxotere) I was given some extra drugs. I took 4 steroids yesterday, two this morning at home, my Emend (for nausea) and then at the hospital they gave me 5 more steroids, another anti nausea (can't spell the name of that one) and then 2 Tylenol 3's and a benedryl. And then tonight I take another 2 steroids. Yes folks, I am a walking pharmaceutical lab...a total of 14 pills today - and 9 of them are steroids. If I started going to the gym I could probably win a body builder competition by the end of the year...but can you say hello constipation. Yeah, great. I had McDonald's on my way home from the hospital, hopefully that will take care of that.

They gave me a larger dose of herceptin for my first round, it ran for 90 minutes. The Dr said it's generally well tolerated and I shouldn't have any side effects from it at all. Yay. The next years worth of doses will only run for 30 minutes so that's good.
Then the gave me the Taxotere. This one they started off slowly, 50/ml drip. This was the drug I was worried about as there is a roughly 10% chance of having an severe adverse reaction to it. And with my tendency to be a giant pain in the ass (you'll recall the breast cancer that can't actually be found in my breast) I figured I could very well fall into that 10%.  But they gave me that plethora of pills to help prevent that. Anyhow my brother was instructed to watch my face for redness or swelling. Thankfully there was none so each 15 minutes or so they'd speed up the drip by 50/ml until I was up to 250 at a good speedy drip. But it still took 2 hours for the full bag to empty.

So this treatment, all tolled took about 4 hours. I felt terrible for my brother. He worked nights last night, stopped at home to change, picked me up and didn't get home until probably 3 pm and he's got to work tonight again. But it was good to have him there to keep me occupied (and I kept him out of  working the Occupy Eviction....ha ha, see my play on words there.) Though when the benedryl kicked in, I can remember we were talking the whole time but I don't really remember about what....I was pretty loopy.  They gave me ice mittens and slippers to wear - this it to constrict the blood cells in your nails to prevent neuropathy. And instead of ice chips I brought more ice cream, though it was hard to eat with the mittens.

So far, I'm feeling okay. My hands and cheeks are tingling a bit. My mouth is dry and my lips feel chapped. From the other ladies I've spoken to the side effects take a few days to kick in, though I heard that about the FEC too and mine always kicked in right away. But I've bushing after everytime I eat and rinsing with biotene to prevent mouth sores. I've got nail strengthener and dark nail polish on my toes and fingers, despite my pure hatred of nail polish on my fingers to protect my nails. I've got my prescriptions for pain killers at the ready (for the bone aches) and hopefully these treatments will go better for me. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US so to my American friends


Friday will have been my Dad's 65th birthday. I'm hoping to feel well enough to join my mom and family and friends in dinner to celebrate his day and mourn that he couldn't be with us here to celebrate it. But I know he's up there now, having a chat with the Big Guy and asking him to heal me and spare me the same fate he had. He's one of my many Guardian Angels and I couldn't think of a better person to have up there watching over me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Whole Wheat Molasses Ginger Cookies

With the holidays coming up nothing makes me happier than the Ginger Molasses cookies they sell at Tim Horton's. But really, who can afford to buy 6 cookies AND a double double everyday? Okay who really NEEDS 6 ginger molasses cookies everyday? Me, that's who. And just because Timmie's is a stones throw from my house doesn't mean I can go there everyday, after all, I'm not working.

So, I'm forced to make my own and, well, to be perfectly honest, these are a hell of a lot better than Timmie's cookie and I can have them whenever I want because when they run out, I can make more. And though they are packed full of sugar I use whole wheat flour so I feel less guilty - hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Here is the recipe.  When I made them I actually doubled the ingredients because I like to make my cookies huge.

Ingredients


1 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp sea salt

Sugar for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


1.Mix molasses, egg, and brown sugar.
2.In a separate bowl, sift together the remainder of the ingredients.
3.Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet ingredients and stir to combine completely.
4.Drop cookies onto baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.

Now, this is what they looked like on the cookie sheet.


I know what you're thinking and I though the same thing too. It looks like something you would have cleaned out of your babies diaper. I can tell you, in real life it looks like that too but if you can get past the uncooked appearance it will be well worth it. And it smells heavenly, even in this state so that helps. (However, between Sean and I these have been dubbed the shit cookies.)

Bake at 350 for 11 minutes. Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, sprinkle the tops with a bit of sugar. Cool for 5 minutes.


Makes about 25 cookies.

As I said before I make my cookies really big. They are about 4" in diameter. I do that so that I'll only eat one. And I can get away with only sending one with the kids to school.



 These freeze really well too, so I keep 12 out and freeze the other 12 for later. 

All you need with these is a nice hot cup of coffee (if you can't get to a Timmie's you can always brew your own) and enjoy!


30,000th Visitor.


Whoever is reading me from Sunnyvale CA, YOU were my 30,000th reader.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Survived!

Yesterday was Sean's first day back to work. I joked that he was throwing me to the wolves because it's the first time I've been home alone for any length of time with all three kids. 

I kept myself pretty busy and the day flew by. We went to church, I chatted with my coworker when she came by to collect yet another diaper cake (this was one was fabulous....I had a $100 budget to work with and it was my best one yet.




Later on I did some googling. (get your mind out of the gutter you perv) because I had a few diapers left over and wanted to find an interesting way to use them for a future diaper cake or creation and I found something so freakin' cute I had to try and make it right away. I used some old bibs, receiving blankets and socks of Connor's and a water bottle instead of a baby bottle but you get the point. It will look awesome when I make one with new, coordinated, proper baby things. 
Introducing......diaper bike!





I also made a big huge crockpot of homemade baked beans (watch for that in an upcoming Tasty Tuesday)

Then I did what I do best of all, I cleaned. I cleaned the ever lovin' shit out of my bathroom. Haha, interesting choice of expression for the room I cleaned.

Not only was the smell of it getting to me (not a bad smell, it's the smell of the Lysol wipes, it lingers but much like the smell of IV tubing or the thought of ice, it makes me nauseous and I've been struggling to spend any length of time in the bathroom because of it. So I cleaned it, with good old fashioned Comet. I also cleaned out the drawers that housed lotions, and potions and old bandaid wrappers and a myriad of things we don't use. I also cleaned out the cabinets. We have two glass door cabinets that are nice for putting nice little baskets for soaps and such but after a while they become catch alls and lose their aesthetic appeal . I also de-toyed the tub a bit and purged the growing collection of bathroom reading material.

And the finishing touch, the snowman shower curtain went up. I can't decorate for Christmas yet, not until after Mary's birthday but there is no rule that says my snowman collection can't slowly make its appearance. I love snowmen and have a pretty sizable collection of them, candle holders, stuffed things, cookie jars, statues. It's all good.

So, I made it. A whole day without Sean here. I say that like it's an accomplishment and 6 months ago that would have been a laughable statement but it's amazing how fast things change.

Today, I'm going to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm looking forward to that. I've got a list of what I want to get Sean but because he was always with me I couldn't get any of it.

Chemo is early this week. They called and switched me to Wednesday. It means Sean can't come with me, his days off are Thursday/Friday.
I'm scared out of my mind for this treatment. It's new, Taxol, and this is the one they say you can have an allergic reaction to. I'm also worried about the side effects of this one (deep bone ache, mouth sores, brittle nails) And, I'm starting herceptin on Wednesday too. I don't think there are side effects associated with it...but I don't really know.

This week is messed up though because Sean can't take me to chemo and my Mom can't pick up Connor, she has a funeral to go to. So my brother, John, is taking me to chemo. He's a calming person, his personality (and his job) make him level headed and he's always been good at making me feel better when I'm panicked so I thought he was good choice.  My brother Brian is picking up Connor up from school. Connor will love that. He thinks Uncle Brian is pretty cool and he'll have one of his cousins to play with (not sure which one, the go to school on alternating days - but either way it's cool to have a cousin your age or a year older to play with)  

I noticed on my little counter at the bottom of the screen that I'm only 42 visitors away from 30,000 visits! (it doesn't count me) Most of that was padded in August and early September when my counter was spinning like the Griswold's electric meter at Christmas because of my 12 weeks and craving pickles post.

It's pretty exciting and I'm flattered that that many people are interested in reading. And to think this blog was started as something I didn't even tell anyone about - as a way to get thoughts out.

Too bad I have no way of knowing who my 30,000th visitor is, I'd have a giveaway.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday - Knotty Notions

This week's plug is for my dear friend Debbie and her fast growing Etsy Shop, Knotty Notions.

Debbie makes gorgeous wood burned products, rustic designs and unique keepsakes.

I started off buying this


When I saw it in her shop I had to have it. It's the very foundation behind teaching kindergartners so I got it to hang by my desk so that on those days when I feel in a rut or like I'm not getting through to a child I can look at it and be inspired. (of course, I've yet to be able to hang it by my desk....but I will soon!!)

Next, I bought this.


She actually made several for the PP sisters and many of us ordered them. And even though most of my books are now read on an e-reader I still read regular books too. At the moment it's keeping my place in Under the Dome by Stephen King...that's a monster of a book that I'm trying to get through.

And finally, when my cousin got married I wanted to send her something nice but unique. She and her hubby have been together for some time and have a home together, they didn't need the typical wedding gifts. I thought something for their trailer, which I think is like their second home and what better for the trailer than something rustic. In comes Knotty Notions....


What I thought was so perfect about it was that in her blog profile she says "I have the most beautiful, quiet, simple imperfect life; I would not trade it for anything."  And like the hanging says...in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.

I already know what I'm ordering next....the personalized ornaments burned into circles cut from branches. I love them and think they will go very nicely on my tree.

Debbie does beautiful work and I can promise you, you won't find anything else like it. Great ideas for teacher gifts, wedding gifts, Christmas gifts....or even 'just because' gifts.

Check out her shop, Knotty Notions. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This One's for Sean

Sean suggested I share this story with you....

A few months ago we were in Scarborough, I don't remember why, probably the Dr, it's the only reason we go to Scarborough, but whatever we were doing, we were early because we stopped at a Tim Horton's. We went in and got coffee and I got myself a Bagel Belt (as a side note, I always order my BELT with no B (bacon) I don't like the bacon they use so I just like egg, lettuce and tomato. But everytime I order it "a bagel belt on toasted whole wheat with NO meat (you can get sausage instead of bacon)." For some reason this translates to "toasted whole wheat bagel with egg and cheese and nothing else. I was not aware that lettuce and tomato were meat products.  But I digress....

We decided to sit in the car to eat, I think I must have just done treatment recently and didn't want to expose my immune system to the germs of a Scarborough Timmie's...

As we're sitting in the car a high end BMW pulls in and parks in front of us. A very well dressed man gets out and goes into Timmies. He comes out a few minutes later with an extra large coffee. He gets into his car but doesn't close the door. We see him lean out with a Starbucks cup, take the lid off, pour some coffee onto the ground, take the lid off the Timmies cup and pour the Tim Horton's coffee into the Starbucks cup. Yep, I shit you not. Then he chucks the Timmies cup onto the ground and drives away.

He was, what Sean called, the epitome of douche bag.

We both had to laugh at the whole situation. Here's the guy in his expensive car, in probably an expensive suit (I don't know suits) and God forbid he be seen drinking {shudder} Tim Horton's!! No, no, one must maintain an image and must only be seen with a Starbucks cup.  And I'll be he tells everyone that at home he only drinks Kopi Luwak but since you can't get that just anywhere he has to settle {sigh} for Starbucks.

Of course, he might be on to something here. A large latte from Timmies is something like $2.50 and at Starbucks it's something like $6.00?  (in fairness I could be wrong, I only drink Tassimo Lattes .... I only drink Timmies coffee and that's a only a buck and a half.) Maybe that's how he affords the beamer.

For what it's worth, I've had both Starbucks Lattes and McDonald's Lattes and I preferred the McDonald's one, hands down.

Of course, I remember once upon a time posting about not understanding the whole label thing and how I'd never in a million years own a Coach purse because I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a bag and yet, now I have one and when I heard my bff was selling some of hers I jumped all over the chance to buy one or two.....

So who's the real douche bag here?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Busy Busy

It's been a busy week!

On Monday I had lunch with my mom, my Aunt, my great Aunt, and three of my cousins. I had the very best reuben I've had in a long time. Of course, it might have just been because I was so hungry but wow....it was good and if I wouldn't have looked like a big, fat pig, I might have ordered another one.

On Tuesday I went with Sean to the Dr. He's been having a pain for some that we thought might be a hernia. Apparently it's not...(though the Dr  - a surgeon in the same office as my surgeon - said there was a chance it could be something called an occult hernia. I actually laughed out loud and he gave me a strange look. Me with Occult Breast Cancer and Sean with an Occult hernia? See why I laughed?) Anyway, the Dr thinks it's just a pulled muscle.
I also made a kick ass diaper cake for a coworkers new baby. It's the pink one here

On Wednesday I had to go for a stress echo. I did not like this one bit. For those who've never had the pleasure....
I got hooked up to a heart monitor. I sat around for a half hour waiting for my turn to have an ultrasound. In that time, (I was nearly falling asleep) my heart rate was anywhere in between 86 and 112. I just naturally have a fast heart rate. As I'm sitting there I'm listenging to an old man behind a curtain getting his ultrasound. The tech is clearly having a hard time and finally tells him he needs to have a contrast to get a better picture.
Finally, it's my turn to have the ultrasound. So the tech is pushing the wand into my ribs and my boob and its friggin killing me. Then he digs it into my solar plexis and my neck. It's all very quick, he's clicking away on the computer taking measurments, much like an OB ultrasound. THEN...he tells me that he can't get a good image because of my surgery (I call bullshit since he was all over the left side and my surgery is all right side...) and he had to give me contrast. This sent me into an anxiety attack. I don't like having new chemicals injected into me...I've got enough going on. And Sean wasn't with me which added to it. And the Dr is telling me to watch for an itchy throat or watery eyes or my tongue swelling. Yeah, good thing to tell me. I know someone who had so many CT Scans in the course of a couple of years that she developed an allergy to the contrast......and I fear this will be me. The Dr tells me this is a relatively new contrast to Canada, only in use for 2 years and that they really get excited about new things. Me thinks this jerkoff just wanted to play with his new toy and my expense.  So he fusses with the IV, but gets it in. As he's opening the little port to flush it with saline he realizes he's got the wrong syringe so he takes it out but doesn't close the port so my blood starts flowing out. He gets it all over me, the pad, his gloves. Then he tears his glove and gets some of my blood on his finger. He says to me after "You don't have HIV or Hepatitis do you?" I said "No, just cancer." He says, "Okay, because you know it's not a big deal, I can just go get the shot but you need to let me know." I said "NO, just cancer and you won't be catching that!"  And all the while I'm thinking Serves you right asshole, I don't think you even need to be giving me this crap! 

So I get on the treadmill and walk, fast, on a huge incline for about 5 mintues until I get to my target heartrate. The tech doing this was not impressed that he had to do my blood pressure in my left arm, along with the IV in there because my right arm is stictly off limits to anything (trauma, such as blood pressure cuffs or needles can trigger lympedima)
Once my heart rate is up to 187 they inject me with more contrast (yay) and have my jump back onto the ultrasound table to get another look.

When I was done I sit back down. My heart rate is now in the low 120's. The tech doesn't want to let me go because my heart rate was still too high. He keeps saying "Are you nervous?" I said, "Well first off y'all sent me into an anxiety attack with this contrast crap and secondly, my heart rate is high all the time, I think 120 down from 187 in less than 2 minutes is pretty good."
He let me go, he could see I wasn't impressed.

Yesterday was a better day. Sean and I went for a nice long walk in the woods. I baked some cookies (watch for Tasty Tuesday..you'll enjoy this one...not just the recipe but the story behind it) I did laundry. I also worked on something very special for my PP Sisters but I can't tell you because several of them read this and I don't want to spoil the surprise. I'll tell ya later.
I also went for drinks with my bff and another friend. It was a nice night out.

And so today...I'm not sure yet what today will bring but somewhere in there will be getting my sister in law's mother's quilt done. She's been insanely patient for something that was supposed to be done October 1. I promise, Catherine, it will be done before Christmas!!!!

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's The Big Deal?

I don't know what it's like elsewhere but here in Canada, because we have Thanksgiving in October the official start to our Christmas shopping season is November 1st. Halloween comes down and Christmas goes up. The malls get decorated, the music is switched to carols and people (like me) get their Christmas lights put up.

And as all this happens there are inevitably the people who complain about Christmas taking over and taking over so early.  We get teased a lot, especially by Sean's family, for having the outside of our house decorated so early (it's usually done by the middle of November to coincide with out cities Santa Claus Parade.  It's an evening parade of lights and it runs across the street from our house so we get a lot of foot traffic and we like to add to the festivity by having our house all lit up that night. We also put our tree up and decorate the inside of the house the very first weekend of December, right after we have Mary's birthday party (always after though so that it doesn't over shadow her birthday)

I can't, for the life of me, figure out what the problem is.

Why would one NOT want to spend as much time enjoying the Christmas season? It's not just a day to me, it's a whole lead up. It's exciting. It puts me in a good mood. And sure, part of it is about presents....I LOVE buying presents for people and this gives me an excise to go all out. But it's also the other things the season brings.

When I had my home daycare we used to do a toy drive. I'd ask the parents to either contribute a few extra dollars in their fees or to drop off a new, unwrapped toy. We also asked for Canadian Tire Money donations.  My daycare parents were always so supportive of it, donating toys, money and Canadian Tire money.  Sean and I would contribute our change jar that we'd collect change in all year and most years that I held the toy drive we'd raise over $100 dollars (not bad when you consider it was only me and 4-5 daycare parents) PLUS toys, PLUS usually $30 or so of Canadian Tire money.

Then we'd pick a day in mid December and Sean and I would take our kids and the daycare kids to WalMart and Canadian Tire and we'd use the money to buy more toys and the we'd pile into the van with all the kids and the toys and bring it down to the fire station.

It was such a great lesson for the kids, so hands on, about giving to those in need and understanding that not everyone is as lucky as we are. Of course there was one year when one of the kids asked me why Santa didn't bring gifts to the poor kids. I had to think quick and explain that he did but that he only brought one or two gifts and that was all because their Mommies and Daddies couldn't afford gifts so we were helping to give the poor children a few more gifts, just like we got. They sure kept me on my toes!

It's that kind of thing that I love about this time of year. That people are more generous and giving and spend more time thinking about those in need. I wish we could think that way all year.

But it brings me back to the question, why get all bent out of shape over the Christmas season being dragged out for longer than the 12 days of Christmas? I really don't know. I think the longer we can keep the spirit of Christmas in people's hearts, the better off the world would be. So if decking the halls (and the malls) is what it takes to make people think about Christmas and the spirit of Christmas (and yes the True Meaning of Christmas...because why should we reserve celebrating the birth of our Lord to just one day?) then I say go for it...do it for as long as possible

Isn't that what Christmas is really about? In the words of Garfield, "It's not the giving, it's not the getting, it's the loving."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Zesty Lime Chicken

We all enjoyed Shameless Plug Sunday and the irony that the 'plug' was for a plug was not lost on me.  I'm just silly that way.

Tuesdays are the worst day of the week if you ask me. On Monday you're rested from the weekend and ready to tackle the week. Wednesdays are hump day so you start looking forward to the weekend. Thursdays are practically weekend and Friday may as well be there weekend. Saturday and Sunday speak for themselves but Tuesday....what can it offer you. Nothin'!

Well all that changes today. It's Tasty Tuesday. Each Tuesday I'm going to share a recipe with you. Something I've actually eaten, not just something I've googled...that way I know it's good. And if I have the presence of mind, I'll even take a picture of the finished product (despite the fact taking pictures of food goes against everything I stand for....I can't make the exception here)

This week however, you're SOL for the picture. Next time I make this recipe I'll take a picture and come back and post it.

So the  recipe this week is for my take on Applebee's Fiesta Lime Chicken.

Zesty Lime Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Dressing:

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp. minced onion
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. dried dill weed
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
dash black pepper
dash garlic powder

In a 9 x 13 baking dish cook the chicken breast as normal.

Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of brown rice as directed. I like to mix in 1/4 cup of Sundried Tomato Dressing to the water to flavour the rice.

Once chicken is cooked cover with dressing and 1/2 cup of grated low fat marble cheese. Put back into the oven at 350 for approximately 10 minutes to warm dressing and melt cheese.

Serve zesty lime chicken over rice with tortilla chips on the side, and a large helping of Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

3 roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small spanish onion diced
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp. of cilantro.

combine and let sit for for an hour refrigerated so the flavours can blend.


Enjoy! If you give the recipe a try, post a comment and let me know what you think of it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday - Scentsy

I'm going to start mixing things up a bit, adding some new and interesting features to my blog and here's the first. It's called Shameless Plug Sunday.

Every Sunday I'm going to give a shout out to business or service that I've dealt with, had a good experience with or just plain feel is awesome. Call it my own little public service.

So, for today's shameless plug I'm going to offer you Scentsy....and more specifically, Sarah Cothren's Scentsy.

Until Sarah became a Scentsy consultant I'd never heard of it before. But even after, I wasn't totally sold. I mean, I've had those Glade Plug Ins. We've had scented candles. We've had all kinds of things that make your house smell (nice) and none of them have ever been used for more than a day or two partially because the smell didn't seem to last long enough and partially because the smells themselves are overpowering. I'm quite sensitive to smell and it doesn't take much to turn me off.

Sarah, as you recall, generously held an online Scentsy party for me and donated not just her commission but also $50 of her own money to our Relay for Life team.  As part of the party I earned a hostess gift and a discount on some other items. 

I ordered 2 of the white plug in warmers (from the Groovy Collection, pg 28 in the Canadian Catalogue) plus a bar each of Skinny Dippin, Cinnamon Bear, and Sunkissed Citrus.

My order was here within a week. Even the outside of the box smelled good!

Now I'm trying to find the right words to describe this. I plugged it in and put a cube of Skinny Dippin' into my warmer. Within minutes not just the living room but the foyer and hall smelled heavenly. But not overwhelming, just enough that you know it's there without it being too much.

I plugged the other one into the kitchen and could smell it there, the playroom, hall and into the bathroom.  And again, it's not overpowering it's just right.

Even Sean, who normally doesn't like that kind of thing, is turning the warmer on when he comes into the room. We'll leave it on for a half hour or so and then turn it off and the smell will linger for hours.

I've become a believer.

And it's not just the smell. The warmer itself is lovely. It's really a quality product, larger than I thought, it feels like it's quite durable and very pretty too.

A Scentsy product would really be a fantastic gift for someone this holiday season. There are warmers that go with any decor and so many fragrances to choose from, you can't go wrong. Shop smart, buy a few extras to give as hostess gifts and if you're not sure about what scent someone might like...they have gift certificates too!

My first order will most certainly not be my last, I've actually (much to Sean's chagrin) made a list of which warmers I want and the scents I'm going to try next.

I encourage you, visit Sarah's Scensty page, browse the catalogue and place an order. (Canadians can order too, just click the country selector on the top right of the screen) You won't be sorry!






Saturday, November 12, 2011

Regrets? Not Me.

The other day one of my Facebook friends posed this question...

"If you knew 10 years ago what you know now, what would you do differently?"

Ironically it was the same Facebook friend who inspired this infamous post.

My answer to her question was "not one thing."

I've been thinking a lot about that question since she posted it. Do I really have life free of regrets? Is it possible to?

My life has not been perfect, far from it. I've made more than a boatload of mistakes. Some have been small, inconsequential ones, so minor they're all but forgotten. Some have been huge, ones that have hurt people I love and possibly severed relationships.  But does that mean I regret them? Maybe the collateral damage, but not the lesson learned.

I guess that's where my answer came from. Because no matter what has happened in my life, I don't think I would change anything I've ever done if given the chance again.

Take, for example, what was formerly known as the year from hell, the year Sean and I nearly split. We both played our roles in that but to say I would go back and change my behaviour? If I had, would that year have played out that way? And if it hadn't played out the way it did, would our marriage be as strong as it is now - in order to support us in this new battle, the one in which we need to have each other's backs? I don't know but I'll be honest in saying that knowing how it did play out and how hard it was was well worth it to know that we're strong and united now and fighting cancer together. I couldn't fathom doing this as a single parent or in a half assed relationship.

Last summer I said and did some things that really upset my brothers and sisters in law and caused a substantial rift in our relationship for a long time. And while that was a horrible time for us all I think it also served a valuable purpose - we all learned to see multiple perspectives on one common issue. And like I said, it's not that I'm not sorry for what I said or did but I don't regret the end result, what we all took away from it. And I'm also pleased to say that we sorted our differences and my brothers and sisters in law are some of my biggest sources of strength and support now.

I don't know if I'll always feel this way, that I have no regrets. I'd like to think I will. I don't equate making mistakes with regrets. If I can learn something from a mistake then there should be no regrets in making it.

Although at this precise moment I'm still trying to figure out what I've learned from eating those 2 chocolate chip cookies.

Wow Fatty!

I got on the scale at the Dr's office yesterday. That's all I'm saying about it.

Okay, not really, but it was bad, worse than I thought. I would like to say I fail to see how it's possible that I've gained 8 lbs since I had an entire body part removed or that it's the prosthetic that pads weight to the scale (and my shoes, socks, pants, shirt..) but in fairness I had long hair once and hair is heavy so I should be able to deduct that to balance some of it out...

the truth of the matter is I eat. Non stop.

I've always been envious of people who lose a ton of weight when under stress. I can't tell you how many friends I have who dropped 3 and 4 dress sizes amidst their divorces and I'd think "wow, one good marriage breakdown and I can be hot again!"  But that's not in my genetic (or mental) make up. I get stressed and rather than turning away from food, I turn to it.

The real problem is that when I'm happy, I also eat.

I like food, what can I say. And I'm a snacker. And I love my sweets. And I love chicken wings. And I love sweet chili rice crackers with cream cheese. And I love samosa. And the more I love all these things the more I indulge in them because I am bored, or feeling sorry for myself, or it's a Tuesday and now.....

well not the scale shows a horrific number and it frightens me.

I've been complaining about not being in shape, I need to take into account this fact too, that I'm slowly eating myself to death. I'm gaining a nice little patch of heart attack fat on my belly and I'm getting the Connolly ass.  (no offence to my beloved family but you all know the ass I mean)

Step One of my recovery from being a cancer patient, an ongoing process, is beating cancer. No brainer.

Step Two of my recovery, now underway, is regaining control of my life through being busy and organized and productive, (I made more muffins yesterday, did more laundry, got all the 'to be mailed' Christmas packages wrapped and addressed and got roughly half of my Christmas cards done.)

And starting today, Step Three of my recovery, control the insatiable appetite monster. I'm not going to diet, I don't believe in them, they are temporary fixes. But I'm going to control myself. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, in normal person, acceptable portions, not Andre the Giant  sized meals (wow, I think I just dated myself there) And if I want a snack, it will be something healthy, like fruit, or veg or a yogurt (not 3 yogurts) And I won't deny myself chocolate or treats because that leads to failure but having one Halloween mini bar after dinner is a better bet than sitting with the box at your knees. And later this week when I meet some friends for wings and beer, I will eat my wings and drink my beer but it will be once this week, not wings and beer this night and samosa this night and M&M Oriental Party Platter this night.

It starts today. I know I've said this before but let's face it, I've never had more reason to mean it before - I've never been more motivated to be strong and healthy than before. It's going to do me no good to beat cancer if I keel over from heart disease in 2 years and remember, heart disease and stroke are still the leading killers of women in Canada.

Imagine, maybe by next summer I'll be able to shop for a mastectomy bikini! (okay, that might be stretching it)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Time For A Change

Sean is going back to work in just over a week. He's been home with me since August and I've been so very blessed because of that. He's been my pillar of strength, my rock and my boy Friday and I am so lucky that he was able to be here with me through this first half of my treatment because as unbearable as it's been, he's made it that much easier for me.

But all good things must come to an end and really, for the both of us, it's best for him to go back to work.
We've become like crutches to one another.

There used to be a commercial on TV that showed a guy sitting at a diner counter trying to put milk and sugar into his coffee and drink it. He was spilling everything, shaking, unsure what to do. It was commercial for a quit smoking campaign and the premise was, if you can learn to do one thing without smoking, you can learn to do anything without smoking.

Being a former smoker I can tell you this is, in fact true. You need to train yourself to do everyday things that you normally did while smoking - without smoking. It's part of the psychological addiction to smoking - one that can be just as hard to break as the physical one and if you don't break that you won't successfully quit.

What does this have to do with Sean going back to work, you ask? Well, it's very much the same thing. I've become overly dependant on him. He's been home with me for over 2 full months and I've loved it but in the words of Homer Simpson "I love you Marge but God knows I don't need to see you everyday"   There is too much of a good thing (and don't get me wrong, this goes both ways...he needs the break from me and this life too)

My true nature is to be a control freak. That is why cancer is not a good disease for me to have...I have no control over it. But in all other aspects of my life, I'm a control freak. I'm type A. I'm organized, I'm methodical, I'm literal, I want things done this way (my way) the right way, always.  I thrive on routine and structure and when I don't have that I get antsy and nervous. I can't stand lateness, ever, for any reason and dilly dallying when there is something to be done is stressful.

But all that has fallen by the wayside since the summer. I've let go control of things. I stopped cooking most of the meals in the house (I was developing a new love of cooking before I got sick) I had a routine in cleaning the house,  especially those rooms that I can't stand to see messy. I was uncluttered. Now I'm tripping over shoes at the front door, there are papers everywhere, the basement is a nightmare....

And it's not because Sean isn't capable...or me for that matter, it's just that his way and my way are different and I focused on being sick and he focused on keeping our heads above water.

I've noticed lately the pain in my back. It's because I've lost all the muscle tone in my stomach (which from what I've read is a side effect of chest/breast surgery) however at one time, though there was a fluffy layer of Mommy/chicken wing fat there was some pretty solid muscle under that.  It's all gone now. And 3 months of sitting on my rapidly spreading ass has made the rest of me weak too, including the back that I've been favoring since my surgery in July.

However, I don't know that exercise at this point is safe. I'm not physically in top shape. I am still technically healing from the surgery and injury to the right arm/chest can lead to lymphedema which I am desperate to avoid. I'm not sure of my cardio vascular state (which was never fabulous to being with) but chemo has effects on the heart (in fact I have to have a stress echo next week just to monitor my heart function) but I don't want to mess with that. And of course the fact that I'm not producing as much red blood cells and therefore getting less oxygen than the average person. All this equals me not exercising.....heavily.
But I could be out walking and now that my sciatica seems to have calmed down I can hopefully get out and do more of that.

This afternoon I decided to be "Productive" This meant not watching tv, not playing wii, not using the computer. I decided Connor and I would make muffins and then I would make lasagna for supper. I also thought I'd tackle the growing heap of laundry in my room. (oh, this is where I mention that when Sean doesn't do the laundry my mom does so I think since July I may have done 4 loads in total myself...yeah, I know, pathetic!)

Well, Connor ditched me for some McDonald's Playland time with his cousin so while Sean had his time doing his thing I made a batch of Zucchini Pineapple Muffins, got the lasagna prepped and into the oven and got 3 loads of laundry done.

I was productive. And it felt great!! And I did it all without Sean's help. I felt normal, like me again.

And now it's 10 pm and my back is killing me from standing for so long in the kitchen (oooh, a whole 2 hours) and I'm exhausted. Pathetic.

But it's a start. Because in just over a week, when Sean goes back to work I'm going to have to find ways to fill my days, especially the mornings when Connor is at school, with something productive, something routine, something normal, something organized....something me.

And I think it will be good for me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

12 Hours

It's truly amazing the difference 12 short hours can make. Last night I posted about feeling down, angry, defeated, tired and 12 short hours later I feel alive, uplifted, happy, energetic.

I decided to go to work today for a visit, just with the staff, not the germy kids. I went in for lunch, brought a card thanking them for their thoughts and prayers and of course, treats. Everyone loves a good danish.

I sat in the staff room for an hour and chatted and relaxed and though I was sweating buckets (I wonder how I'm ever going to adapt to having hair again because my head gets so hot so easily now) I felt....normal.

My dizziness passed (I took some more Zofran today though, I was a little worried about nausea) and my mouth has stopped watering and it's like going to school for an hour was the cure to what was ailing me.

My Principal offered that I could come in whenever I wanted to read with the kids, etc and I will consider the offer but wiser heads must prevail and I heard that 7 of my kids were out sick today.....germs are rampant in the school system, there's no getting around that.

But for now it doesn't matter. I feel on top of the world again, strong, healthy and invincible. And I am again, looking forward......

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Will Be Strong

I'd like to apologize in advance. I know I said I was going to try to bring my blog up a bit and be more upbeat but I'm just not feeling it today. In fact, I feel really very down.

I'm mad at myself for it too. I should feel on top of the world (relatively speaking) since this is the first treatment I've had that I didn't have my head in a plastic bowl barfing my guts out for days on end. (which FYI will be promptly destroyed after my last chemo, I never want to see that horrific fucking bowl again)

I do, however, still have the horrible mouth watering, constipation because of the steroids, heartburn that actually feels like I'm having a heart attack (for you worriers, I spoke with my nurse and she assured me, it was NOT a heart attack) Add to this the nagging pain in my back, not my sciatica though, it's new, a knot in my spine that I've felt for some time but is not aggravated by the constant sitting and lying down I do. And of course, I've convinced myself that it's in fact cancer in my bone (despite having already had a bone scan)

A while back I googled the recipe for Applebees "Fiesta Lime Chicken".  It's my favorite thing there but the recipe I found is so much tastier. So I made it for dinner last night. But my heartburn kept me from enjoying it and truth be told the highlight of the meal was the tortilla chips because they calmed the mouth watering. Tonight, Sean ordered pizza for the kids.

Remember my issues with ice? Well, apparently I have the same issue with pizza, only not just any pizza - I love those McCain International Thin Crust Canadian pizza's, but I have an issue with Pizza Pizza specifically. See, because that was my first post chemo meal.....

the smell in the kitchen of the pizza almost sent me over the edge. This is my first day with no anti nausea meds. I'm just holding it together.  

I've been thinking a lot, as you well know, about going back to work and volunteering until then and I'm coming to realize this is not the best idea. It's a pipe dream. I can't put my health at risk like that to spend even part of the day with 30 kids, during the height of flu season with a weakened immune system.  It's just not good math.

So, I'm putting that little fantasy to rest and I'm feeling pretty shitty about that too.

We went to the mall today to get out of the house and I was looking at all the Christmas dresses in the windows and thinking, "Hmm, that's nice, can't wear it. That's nice, can't wear it." You see, I had cleavage once. I could wear a dress that showed cleavage. What is the singular of cleavage? Anyone know? Cleav? What it all adds up to is I have to wear a dress like Michelle Duggar because cleavage is a thing of my past. And frankly, I'm not pleased about it. I liked my cleavage and I liked not having to pick a shirt or dress based on whether or not my prosthetic bra was going to show through or I was going to have one obvious cleav and one non existent cleav....

We stopped at Bath and Body works and stocked up on holiday soaps. The problem is that my post chemo heightened sense of smell has every little smell making me gag. I can't stand the smell of my bathroom at all and you know why? Because it smells clean. Seriously, the soap, the moist wipes for Connor's tush, the clean smell of a clean bathroom....it makes me want to hurl.

I guess what it comes down to is that I'm having myself a little pity party. I know I'm entitled to but I hate feeling this way nonetheless. I'm a positive person, I always have been so to feel so defeated...well it blows. I can't recall the last time I felt truly good, without feeling physically ill or sore or tired or mentally drained or afraid. I long to feel normal again and I just don't know when that is ever going to happen. And I hate it.

I got a call from the Dr's office today. He's filled out the forms for a charity group that donates time at a cottage for families affected by cancer (specifically for those in recovery) I heard about it from my support group and thought it might be something I'd try to get into for the kids for next summer. I'll be done treatment (God willing!) and if they select us and they have the week Sean is on vacation available then the family can enjoy a week at a cottage up north. Payback for everything they've sacrificed.

I'm sure in a couple of days, when the effects of this round of chemo have dissipated more I'll feel a bit better but for today I'm angry and sad and mournful and hurt. I'm defeated.

Tomorrow, I will be strong.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wow, Time Change is Evil!

The 4 days or so following treatment I tend to nap a lot. I get tired very easily and a 2 hour nap really rejuvenates me. The downside to this is that it throws off my night sleep and I can't get more than about 5 hours sleep in a row.

Combine this with my insatiable appetite (everyone told me I'd lose my appetite the week of chemo - oh so not true for me) so when I wake at 4 am to pee I realize that A: I've now had my 5 hours sleep and B: my stomach is talking to me....loud. As is my brain.

So this weekend, combining my treatment with the time change has thrown me for a serious loop. Two nights in a row now I've woken before 5 am, my brain suddenly turned right on, thinking about Mary's birthday party (she's having a luau party), thinking about volunteering at work, thinking about going back to work, thinking about money, thinking about the future and the past.

And all the while my stomach is screaming at me "FEED ME!!!" Empty stomach = nausea to me and I've escaped that train this time around so when my stomach screams for food, I listen.

So for two mornings in a row now I've been here, at the computer, at 5 am, eating my Rice Krispies, drinking my coffee and hating the fact that I'm awake when I should be dreaming peacefully in my bed.

I didn't nap today though, despite being up since 4:30 am. I wanted to but the steroids I've been taking are causing some...ahem bloating issues and frankly, I'm just too uncomfortable to lie down. I think this might work to my advantage though, maybe I'll be able to get more than 5 hours sleep tonight.

If not, I'll see you back here, bright and early. Blah.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This One's NOT About Cancer

My blog used to be fun. Now it's all cancer this and treatment that and I'm sick of it. I'm turning things around and from this point on my posts will only be cancer related when I have something to report. I need some change of scenery.

Daylight savings time has come to an end (or is it just starting? I can never keep track) The fact is we gain an hour of time today and that means that while my body is telling me it's 6 am and I should get up and have coffee and rice krispies (I have a new found love of rice krispies....don't ask, it's really not that great a cereal but I've gone through two family sized boxes on my own in 3 weeks) my computer clock is in fact telling me it's only 5:22. That just means that I'll be ready for a nap right about the time that the rest of the family is getting up. Not a bad trade off I guess but still.....I'm not a big fan of the spring forward/fall back business.

Yesterday we went for a walk down behind the GM headquarters. It has a really nice trail that goes through the woods and leads to the beach. Emily and Mary at reaching that point that family outings are not all that so as an added incentive we told them to pack their cameras and we'd have a photo contest. They could pick their best 10 to be judged and the winner would get 10 pieces of Halloween candy.

Here's three of Mary's best...


She liked how the sun sparkled off the water. I did have to crop it a bit and adjust the lighting for her.

This is a face she made out of rocks. Head, eyes with eyeballs, nose, mouth and ears. (for reference sake the large sandy coloured oval shaped rock is the nose)

Red berries on a tree. I thought the colour in this one was really nice. She took several of these pictures but hasn't quite got the concept of not sticking the camera so close to watch she's taking a picture of that it's out of focus. This was the only one that was relatively focused.



And here are two of Emily's best......


I loved how she didn't have us centered in the picture and was able to still capture us all. Good eye.

This was my favorite of hers. I probably would have tried to take a similar picture. She's got more focus on the bull rushes in the front but she managed to capture the colours in the back too....

Emily has a slight advantage in that she was using my camera instead of her own. My mom was using hers at a party. So we had to take that into consideration when judging. Also, given the difference in experience and age....and the fact that in many situations with the girls I will avoid having a clear winner if at all possible. They are two very different kids  - as different as can be - and choosing a winner in that kind of situation - not wise.

So, Mary won 10 candies for her sparkly water picture....she had a vision and she did her best.
Emily won 10 candies for her picture above of the pond.

And both girls were happy.

On our walk, back to the car we took a wrong turn and what should have been a short 10 minute walk back turned into a 30 minute hike through heavy brush, a parking lot and a swamp. Add to this that (even though this post is not about cancer) I was 2 days off of  chemo I was beyond exhausted when we got back to the car.  But it was fun nonetheless.

So I think for today, I'm going to take that extra hour and use it to soak in the bathtub with my kobo and my iPod and the door locked. 

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hallelujah!

And an Amen for Emend!!

Sorry for the delayed update for those of you who are not FB or PP friends.

I've discovered the miracle anti nausea drug called Emend and am painfully sorry that I didn't know about this back in September during the treatment from hell.  My whole chemotherapy experience would have been drastically different. This drug is obscenely expensive ($175 for 3 pills) so it's only prescribed to those with a drug plan. (for my international readers - while our government health care covers my Doctors visits, tests, hospital visits, meds administered in a hospital and all my chemotherapy it does not cover prescribed drugs. Many people though have additional medical insurance through their workplace to cover drugs. Ours also covered my prosthetic ever 2 years and 4 mastectomy bras a year)
Having said, without a drug plan Emend is worth it's weight in gold and I would have gladly paid for it out of pocket if need be.

This time 6 weeks ago I was in the hospital pumped full of Zofran, antibiotics and fluids because of dehydration due to vomiting.

This time 3 weeks ago I was on the couch in a tedious balance with nausea wondering what would send me over the edge and into the barf bowl.

Right now, I've just finished a bowl of rice crispies, a cup of coffee and I have not felt nauseous even once since Thursday. I do have the hint of queasiness but I think it's mostly due to the mouth watering. (can't escape that side effect it appears.

Last night I had a bit of a scare though. I had a pain in my chest and in my back. I was this close to going to the hospital for fear that I was having a heart attach. See, the chemo I'm on can effect the heart, I have to go for a stress echo in a couple of weeks and I know that in women, often times a heart attack presents differently than the standard 'pain in the chest, left arm tingly'.  In fact, a friends mom died with a misdiagnosed heart attack because the pain presented in her back.

The pain however passed and my hear didn't seem to be doing anything wonky. If it happens again though, I'll go get it checked out. You can never be too careful, I just don't relish being in a germy hospital with my weakened immune system.

My friend/coworker came to visit yesterday. She brought a plant and card from the staff. It was lovely and it made me feel good to know they were thinking of me. I know I've complained that I've only heard from a couple of them and it hurt my feelings but I really do understand that it's most likely just a case of people not knowing how to handle it and feeling awkward. I get it. Anyhow, I plan to go into work in a couple of weeks when my immune system is stronger and thank everyone personally. I also want to talk to the principal about possibly coming in a day or two to volunteer and perhaps a back to work plan for the new year. I know my class is in a bit of chaos. My friend thinks I'm nuts to be considering going back this year at all, apparently my stress level will be through the roof but frankly my mind needs the challenge and I think bringing order to chaos will do me a world of good. I miss it desperately.

So there you have it. Today is my last day with Emend and then it's just my Zofran and steroids to help me manage the nausea but I think the worst of it will have been passed. I'm so glad this was the way I ended the FEC portion of my treatment and I'm anxiously (nervously) looking forward to Taxotere.  

Halfway done baby!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just So Bored....

Wow. Incredibly bored today. Of course, by this time tomorrow I'll be longing to feel this way but for now...wow. Just so bored.

I could make muffins. I could finish my sister in laws quilt....I'm almost done. I could write. And yet none of that appeals to me right now. I'm at that point where I'm so tired of being in the house and under stimulated that my brain is starting to melt. And this is why I could have never lasted as a stay at home mom. More power to those of you who do it, I'm in awe because I'd go freakin' nuts. It's not like I'm stuck at home, for the most part I feel fine and can go anywhere and do anything but even that, there's only so much to do. I want to go back to work and I'm anxious now, excited even at the prospect of going back early.

I went to the hospital this morning to have my pre chemo blood work done. They have to measure my white blood cells, platelets, billirubin, all that good stuff to make sure I'm healthy enough for them to kill me slightly. The lab has a new set up now. When you go in you take a number and wait to be called to register. Chemo patients get priority so once I've registered I'm first in but it often takes 15-20 minutes just to get my turn to register.

So today I'm sitting patiently, waiting for my turn to register. I was number 37. They were at 31. It was quite crowded, not really any extra seats, Sean usually waits outside the clinic on a bench.

An elderly woman came in, was unsure about what to do, where to get her number, she couldn't see well (she later told another patient she'd had a stroke and couldn't see well) Another patient helped her and she sat down. Her husband came in shortly after (probably parking the car)
A pregnant lady, sitting next to the elderly lady, moved over and offered the seat to the woman's husband. A few minutes later I get called up. I gave my requisition form in and sat down again. The elderly lady gets called up next. While she's at the counter a younger woman (my age I'd say) comes in with her husband, takes a number and sits where the old woman's husband had been sitting. Her husband leaves the lab, she takes her purse and plops it on the chair that the old woman had been sitting on. As this is going on, another old woman with a cane came in.
The first old woman (the one who'd had the stroke) is done checking in now and shuffles back toward her seat. She and her husband see the purse and the husband says "Can you move your bag?" The young woman says "Oh, no my husband was going to sit here." So I stood up and said to the man, "Sir, your wife can sit here." The young woman looks at me and says "Ugh, fine, okay" and moves her purse for the old woman. So I then motioned for the other woman with the cane to take my seat.  I got a look and a half from the young woman. I'm not sure why. They called me in for my blood draw right after that.

I'm always amazed at the ignorance of others. Seriously, you need to save your seat for your clearly able bodied husband (and granted there may have been something wrong with him but he sure as hell appeared healthy and able to me) instead of letting this old woman who can barely see and walk to sit down? I shouldn't be so catty and judge like that but come on....

Well, this is it until I'm feeling better from my treatment tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be horrible and the new drugs will help reduce the side effects. But if you're so inclined, a quick prayer that it's not horrible would be much appreciated. See ya soon!