Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Going the Distance

OK, the little hairs on my head were driving me nuts, they were falling out rapidly all the past week, worse than any cat shedding. The little hairs were clogging the drain, getting all over the tub, and into my clothes where they itched like crazy. On Saturday, in a completely spur of the moment thought over breakfast, I went over to my regular hairdressers (Jamie was there getting a cut) and he buzzed the rest of my hair off. I have rough “peach fuzz” (although no self respecting peach should feel this way) and that will likely be out of my head in a week or so. Jamie took photos of this on her phone camera, not sure if they will download well, but we will see. First Eddie did a Mohawk so I can say I had one (for all of a minute). Just in case Sofie asks someday…by the way, she watched the whole thing. She thinks it looks funny. But that great card Brenda Laribee sent (from Trader Joe’s) helped, to prepare her for the totally naked head look.

Bald is, well, a bit of a startle, but, so this has to be better.

I actually got good feedback from some of my faithful readers who saw the photos of the first buzz and told me I looked “hot”. Hot is so not what I feel these days, but I took those compliments to heart and so now, with my totally Melissa E bald head, I am feeling pretty fine. In the house, I just go bare headed. Outside, I sometimes wear what I call “the chemo patient headscarf” but that is ok too.

Today is Tuesday, four days after treatment two. The pain is pretty harsh from Sunday through Tuesday. But otherwise, not too bad in terms of other stuff. Took the anti nausea pill the first night the next day. No nausea. I am grateful every time that happens. Still my worst fear. Saturday, went to breakfast with Jamie and Sofie. Then I took Sofie for a while so Jamie could do an appointment, I went to the Triangle Families parenting conference, and Sofie went to child care there, totally free (which was so nice). When it was lunchtime, I came upstairs to find her helping out with the setting up of the lunch tables, she was quite proud of herself. We had lunch together, and played with the babies after for a while. Then we left to go to the hair place. After that, Loco pops run and then Jamie took her to a kids concert, I went to Costco for one thing (and got a few more, of course) and then went home. I need to rest a bit. That bit of normalcy on a Saturday totally exhausted me. Wore my “cancer patient” head scarf today, leaving Dee Dee to the work days. At home, wearing a bandana, the air was on and my head was cold! I was ready for bed before 6:45 PM. B O R I N G, this life of mine.

I upped my Netflix subscription and saw three films in the past week. And I am caught up on all series (Huff, Big Love, West Wing and Desperate Housewives) that I watch sporadically.

Sunday, on the big drugs, I went to see Kate Clinton in a benefit performance for SWOOP, Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects. SWOOP does great work rehabbing run down properties for non profits, or assisting with painting and landscaping for older folks who cannot do it anymore. They do one big project a month.

I was more or less on the event committee. Kate was hilarious, and in top form. Laughing felt good, even if my joints and bones were achy.

Jamie and I have been swapping Sofie back and forth this weekend, we split the cost of the new sitter. I was desperate to find a new babysitter, I keep hiring excellent ones who are seniors or grad students and then before you know it, they are finished and they leave school. Becca, the new person, is great with Sofie, and most important, Sofie liked her.

Speaking of kids, it was completely blissful last Friday after chemo to be sans child and have time to myself, even if I did not do much with it! I had been pretty much with Sofie the past two weeks full time, so I was ready. I was alone at chemo this time, had rides to and from, but alone there, thanks to Tracey and Betty. I was totally fine, in fact, I wanted to try that out. I watched a movie on the portable player and started another, but then I was done. It was easy and went well, so that was good. Volunteers come around from time to time, bringing beverages or crackers…So I was able to get a diet coke when I wanted one. I brought healthy foods (apples and carrots) for snack and my own coffee, I am so spoiled now, I tote my Peets in the travel cup pretty much everywhere, even out to breakfast.

Now, I long for a massage. And I am planning one, again thanks to Tracey. And I have had wonderful messages, cards and calls from friends. As this is now “one third done” (two of six treatments down), I am feeling quite grateful and appreciative of everyone in my life. (Originally written May 9, 2006)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ask Little Ms. Science

I cannot take credit for putting it up, but this is the blog that I hope to post my musings (formerly updates) to. I won't just go on and on about the chemo, it will continue to have cute anecdotes about Ms. Sofie, her life is far more amusing than mine.

The last weekend of April, her recent caterpillar obsession came into play and she insisted on bringing one home from the Museum of Life and Science. I quickly fashioned a temporary caterpillar condo, (those gladware disposable things have many additional purposes). I was sure it would be dead by dark, or surely the next morning, but it is Monday night and the little critter is thriving so far, and Sofie has been cooing over it and playing with it and making sure it has leaves and water. So who knows. My mom is sending her a proper butterfly habitat via the Discovery Network, ASAP.

I said something yesterday about it making a cocoon soon and she corrected me, "not a cocoon, Mom, a chrysalis". I am not even sure I spelled that correctly. Evidently, cocoons are for moths, not butterflies. I have lived five decades and did not know this. She is so gentle with this little creature and so sweet. She played with it on her placemat so it would have enough exercise. Then she was singing to it last night before it went to sleep. Um, to bed. Whatever.

The Habitat did arrive and not a moment too soon! “Catty” her caterpillar had actually grown and was being quite responsive to Sofie’s attention. I put her in the habitat (essentially a webbed cylinder with a zipper top and butterfly designs for effect). The next morning, I went to do my early morning check on the critter and it was nowhere. Not in that habitat, not on the table. I almost panicked and then notice that it had indeed that very night, formed a chrysalis and was hanging from the top of the habitat. I think we have a week to ten days, and then it will be a butterfly. Then we plan to (don’t laugh) mail order five more caterpillars. We will set them free a day or two after they emerge when they are butterflies. This was a hard concept as she wanted to keep them all in her room, but I found myself saying something like "butterflies must be free" before I burst into giggles she did not understand.

So, here is the brief story of the photos. Please note the official babushka color of the kerchief is TEAL, but we improvised for now. Teal is not that easy to find, but I am on that.

When I decided I would get my head buzzed, my dear friend Alan offered to do something in solidarity. That turned out to be getting his dog, Kimo, buzzed (AKA, the “summer cut”). The babushka was a stroke of genius. Then Alan himself decided to get buzzed in solidarity. He also mentioned that after visiting his local Castro Street barber, he emerged to admiring glances on Castro Street. Is it any wonder? He looks fabulous.

Then Eileen got her hair cut shorter than she usually does and wrote about the issue of choice in this hair cutting. Then Lisa, who looks about as cute as any adorable little butch girl can, got her hair shorn to about an inch or less. And Lisa has beautiful thick hair. Her cap is what she refers to as “The Brooklyn Babushka”.

When I went to “Lovely Lady”, the wig place to get shorn by the owner, Darlene, Sofie came along and we played with all the hats there and the scarves before the big moment. Beth Wolfe took a ton of pictures, some of which I am sharing here. Sofie and I mugged for the camera, and Sofie took a photo of Beth and I and actually did pretty well.

One funny, ironic thing, is that Sofie’s homework book that night was called (I am not making this up) “The Wig”. We brought it to the place and read it there.

The faces I made during the process were not due to being upset about the shearing, the razor noise was *very* loud and also the hair kept falling into my eyes, my nose and my mouth…..yeeeech. The finished head was pretty startling, and I had not seen my natural color on my head in at least 15 years, possibly 20! You be the judge, but I think it was not as bad as I had feared. In all the excitement, however, I forgot to put on the babushka for the photo shoot. Rest assured, that will happen, I now own at least 8 of them in assorted colors.

I did not think I would do it, but that weekend, I went out in public with my short hair (making sure to wear a dramatic lipstick color as well) and nobody fainted.

Then those little hairs started falling out on Monday at a rapid rate. All over clothes, the pillow, all over everything. Like having five shedding cats. So on Saturday, I stopped by my regular hair place and asked that he buzz it pretty much all off. That night, when I passed a mirror in my home, I was startled, as I guess I forgot that I had done it for a minute there. But now, it is just easier. Dee Dee goes out in the day to work, the rest of the time, head scarf. The wig makes my head hurt after six hours.