Weekend update

It’s Sunday night, and I’m feeling pretty damn okay. Little lazy, but not over fatigued. Aware of my bones, but not in pain or discomfort. Slight headache from lack of caffeine since I’m concentrating on water consumption. (I’m allowing one coffee or one soda a day.) I’d say on a scale from 1 (feeling completely shitty) to 10 (feeling great), I’m about a 7. I’m okay with that, especially since the docs predicted today would be the worst day post-treatment.

  • The day of and the day after my first chemo, I felt somewhat hyper. Lots of energy, lots of talking, almost restless. I got some stuff done around the house I’d been putting off. I played with the kiddos. Ran a few errands. No nausea at all, but I’m on four different anti-nausea meds through Tuesday. I did start having hot flashes, though. Oh boy, hot flashes are going to suck. (Luckily, not as many today.)
  • Big lesson learned over the last two days: when the nurse says “drink as much water as you can to flush the meds,” she is not issuing a challenge. Day of chemo, I drank 200 ounces of water in about eight hours. Saturday, I drank the same over about 10 hours. Too much. I felt like a beached whale by the end of the night.
  • Yesterday, my mom (who hasn’t left my house since Thursday night) deep cleaned/disinfected the entire house. I’m talking bleach and Lysol and every nook and cranny. My house smells super sterile.
  • I found my “cranial prosthesis” (aka wig). It was a great experience. The shop is owned by a woman who has been through cancer two times. I explained that I didn’t want to be old-looking or look like helmet-head, newscaster hair. I tried on about six wigs. One was a complete no, the other five were contenders. I took pictures and mom, the kids, a few very trusted friends and B weighted in. Everyone agreed on my first choice, which is very close to how my hair looks when straightened. A few positive comments on a second one (one friend called it “French assassin. Cute but sexy,” so I decided to order both. Unfortunately, there aren’t any nice curly hair wigs, so I’ll be straight for a few months. But, it’s probably for the best – if my hair grows back straight, I’ll be used to it.

Glad to be going back to work tomorrow. It wasn’t the holiday break I imagined, but I’m thankful I had the time to get so much medical stuff accomplished and have the time to process what’s going on. I feel good about where I am with my medical team and treatment plan. I feel pretty good physically and mentally.

No doctors until Friday, then it’s a quick appointment to check my blood levels and discuss how the week went. Next chemo treatment: February 6.

 

Shopping for my head

Today I tried on “head accessories” – scarves (untied and pre-tied), turbans, and sleep caps. There were two other women in the shop, both had been through chemo – one of them preparing for her third time fighting cancer.

The women were super helpful with what I would need and not need. They talked about the importance of super soft materials and showed me what to look for in the placement of the seams in a turban and pre-tied scarf. They shared how to wash and care for these accessories. They showed some tricks for handling an accessorizing the “tails” of the scarves.

We talked about skin care (probably get really dry) and nail care (could lose my nails but I can still paint them using special polishes, albeit with limited color options – I’m going to miss regular manis-pedis).

I bought several things, and I gained quite a bit of confidence in figuring out how to rock this inevitable bald-thing. It was actually kind of fun trying on stuff. I look pretty damn good in a few of the turbans and scarves… Best estimate, I have 7-21 days after my first treatment before I start losing my hair.

I also got the contact information for the wig fitter/cosmetologist. She has limited hours at the hospital retail shop, but she runs a salon not far from my mom’s. I hope to get an appointment with her this week/early next to help me navigate the world of wigs and how to draw (hopefully) natural-looking eyebrows.

Shopping included looking for somewhere to store all the new stuff for my head. Some assembly required, but this ended up perfect.

Shopping included looking for something to store all the new stuff for my head. Some assembly required, but this ended up perfect.

Tomorrow, I have a heart test (some of the chemo meds can damage the heart so I need baseline results so I can be evaluated over the next few months) and the installation of the mediport (to administer the chemo and have blood drawn through this process).

It’ll be a long day.

Fun story: I tried on one of the pre-tied scarves this afternoon to show the kids. Lauren’s reaction: “Why are you the only one who gets to be a pirate? I want one, too!”

Curls

I can handle the thought of cancer and surgery and months of treatments, but hot diggity! I completely lose it when I think about losing my hair.

For the last 41 years, I’ve had a love-hate-love relationship with my hair. I’ve been known to cry and scream when I get bad haircuts, and to drive more than two hours to visit a favorite stylist. I was a runner-up for the “best hair” superlative in college. When budgeting, there’s one item that can’t be sacrificed: my hair expenses (cut every four weeks, color every eight weeks. Plus there’s the shampoos, conditioners, leave in conditioners, curl enhancers, creams/gels/mousses, hairsprays, and anti-frizz agents – all of which change seasonally).

I spent a good part of my childhood straightening the curls. I hated how my hair both made me stand out from everyone else AND made me obviously part of my mom’s family (in which everyone has curly hair). Around mid-high school, I just went with it. I embraced my naturally curly hair. It’s a big part of me. My curls are sometimes wild, sometimes sassy, sometimes really big. But it’s never boring.

It’s also apparently pretty memorable. I get more comments and compliments on my hair than anything else. This summer, while at a concert, a girl walked up to me and told her boyfriend that they were obviously in the right line for the bus home because she remembered my HAIR – not me, not my friend, nope. This super drunk chick remembered MY HAIR.

And I could (will?) lose it soon.

My hair will grow back, I know that. But it could grow back DIFFERENTLY. I don’t know how to handle anything other than super-high-maintenance curls. What if it’s straight or half curly/half straight? What if it’s a different color? OMG, what if it’s my natural dirty ashy blonde? There’s a reason it’s been 20 years since I started dying my hair.

I really dislike how much the idea of losing my hair affects me. I hate the thought of losing my hair, but I hate the thought of CARING about it so much, too. It’s so damn vain to focus on something so darn trivial, like hair. I’ve looked at the “cancer wigs” and there’s nothing even close to my hair, which makes me sad that I won’t look like “me” when I’m going thought this. I really like to think of myself as not the vain-type. But apparently I am. At least when it comes to my hair.

As a child, I straightened my hair, rejecting the curls completely. I also liked to wear wool blazers.

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That’s me, standing in the back. The one who looks like a boy, according to Ethan. This was around early high school years, so yay for the 80s!

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More recently, I’m all about my curls. Two photos from the last six months:

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