Thursday, March 26, 2015

Springing Forward

Spring is always a busy time in the Mallory house. We have 4 birthdays to celebrate in a month. This year we have also been fortunate to have a bunch of spring visitors. I like to think it's our sunny disposition that brings our friends near, not my horrible misbehaving cancer.

We brought in March with my friend Jen spending a week spoiling us. We had sleepovers at Koolina and got to play tourist for a few days. She took the girls for a couple days while I rested from the last round of chemo.

Fortunately this chemo has been a lot easier than abraxane. I get a bit nauseous, really tired for a few days and achey.  At my appointment last Monday, my onc was really impressed with my bloodwork. Not that I have much control over that, but if my counts drop it makes everything trickier. My recent ECHO showed my heart is doing good too, so that is also good news. We are 2 months out from gamma knife and I'm feeling pretty good, but it's also time to schedule the next brain MRI to see what's going on. The scanxiety starts as soon as we start talking about it because that means it's also time to do other scans. And here I have to balance how much I want to know with when I want to know it. We will see what the brain MRI says and decide what to do from there. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, so I think about all of our plans.

Last Friday I turned 39. And I usually don't like to bring attention to my birthdays but to me this year feels like a big deal. Most women my age are lamenting wrinkles and gray hairs and dreading the big 4-0. I would like nothing more than to bring in the big 40 with style. I am just happy to have hair- I could give a rosey rodent's rectum if it was gray or blonde or the nice mousey brown that it is. It is soft and I like that the kids will sit and pet my new baby hair. As for wrinkles- bring em! Badges of experiences I want to have.

The other day I collapsed into a puddle of goo in the shower when it occurred to me that it was in fact my birthday. It IS a big deal. It is a big day. For years I thought 43 was the magic number- anything past that was bonus time as many of my mutant relatives seemed to have a tough time getting past that birthday. Even when I was diagnosed at 36- I felt relatively secure that I had time. That there were gonna be more birthdays. I can't live like there aren't going to be. I can't. SO I won't. But it doesn't mean I don't wonder. It's only human and that is something I feel like I've been reminded of a lot lately- how completely humanly mortal I am.

I used to go on all of the kids' field trips. Now the thought of petri dishes and bus rides compounds nausea. I had been looking forward to the 4th grade whale watching trip for years. But it was a chemo week and there was no way I could be responsible for kids, on a boat, while nauseous. So Phil got to go. And even though I was so happy for him, I was sad. Then he texted me- NO whales. They didn't see any whales. The good news- they got vouchers to come back and see whales. My birthday present from Phil and Lily was a trip to see whales. It's funny how things work out. That is what I remind myself when things start going bad- sometimes it's just the push forward we need to get us where we should be. A good reminder of how small we are in the grand scheme of thing- but then there is the whale- just breathing and there we were boats full of humans squealing over his mere act of breathing.

I miss normal. I miss grocery shopping and yard work and spring cleaning. I miss having the energy to do these things and not worrying that I will hurt myself or make myself sick. I miss the possibility of new. I think back on all of the hard times and miss how easy they were.  But I am really grateful that I knew enough to appreciate the normal times. And then I get upset for wasting any energy missing something that is no more. And I wonder how much time it will be before I look back on days like today and long for how easy they are. So instead of lamenting, I made a pot of soup and did the dishes. And I thought about how I always want to blog more and spent far too much time trying to find pictures for this post and never did find the ones I want.

The last couple of weeks were crazy busy. I was getting ready for a Dining out for Phil's Squadron. I have not been to any work functions for ages. It just ends up being one of the things that gets triaged. But Phil and I both know that his work is a huge part of our lives and our community and I really wanted to put forth the effort to be there. So over a month ago, I ordered dresses online. They were all too big. Normally this would be a very happy thing for me. But now it meant extra work. Trying to get a dress  to an island when running around to stores requires effort and time I just don't have to spare. And after an appropriate amount of stress- I resigned that it was going to be OK. That I had options and if the dress did not arrive- I would make do with what I had. Fortunately the dress made it and my neighbor's mom is a seamstress and willing to take up a dress with little time to spare.

I started back to Physical therapy. It has been months. My hips are feeling the effects of the aromatase inhibitors. No one recognized me. And that's how I feel a lot. Unrecognizable. And then the questions start-you look great- are you in remission? You have hair- does this mean you are finished with chemo? No one wants to hear that things aren't coming up roses. And I am grateful that people see me and talk to me yet each question is a painful reminder that I am not on the path that people want to hear about. It is part of the reason why going to social events is so hard. It takes effort to choose to be positive. I decided that I'm charting my own path and it is positive.

We celebrated Lily's birthday early, with one of my oldest friends and her family. Like I said, we've had a string of visitors. It's been nice. The tempo never calms downs here, which is tough. Phil went to Atlanta for work. Lily got sick, the water heater died, and it's a special order. None on island. So I am absolutely over normal- nothing like a healthy dose of Murphy and his laws to keep us hopping. And every day I think- I should blog- and then something comes up. Usually I hug the kids or get distracted.  Last night we played scrabble while singing along to Phantom of the Opera. Which was just what we needed and I think- as much as all the ick stinks- I have constant reminders of all the good and that is what spring is all about.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)