Monday, May 27, 2002

Well, I'm on the road to recovery. I can't remember how miserable I was during chemotherapy, primarily because I refuse to think about it. Every once in a while I'll run across something that triggers a memory (like photos--eek!), but I try to put it out of my mind. I'm feeling stronger--I no longer use the railing to pull myself up the stairs.

I was very worried about the follow up visits, specifically how they'd find out the cancer had come back. The one tumor was surgically removed and nothing ever showed up on an X-ray. But then I realized that if it comes back, it probably wouldn't come back the same way it first showed up. The radiation oncologist said he'd seen one other presentation of Hodgkin's like mine in his career, but I never asked him about that person's prognosis.

Hair growth continues, and I'm almost ready to go out without a hat. I'll just look very trendy.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Well, I am done with radiation. I'm glad to be done, but I guess I just have this sense that it's not over. No, no, nothing morbidly psychic like I think the cancer will come back, but along the lines that I have to keep going back for checkups (next one is in three months) and I'm still not back at 100%. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I'm done, but I just don't feel like it's over with yet. My white cell count dropped back in the low bucket, and my red cells seem to be hanging around that low mark, too. They don't seem too concerned about my blood work in radiology, probably because they're not radiating anything that could affect it. Twice the resident has not looked at my weekly blood test results but said she was sure they were fine. I resisted the impulse to request that she start predicting the outcomes before they stick a needle in me.

Hair growth is continuing, albeit at a relatively slow pace. I did, however, step foot outside without a hat. Without thinking about it. So I warned Kevin that the time has come where he needs to very nicely ask me if I was going to wear a hat if he sees me going outside without one. Conor, however, has retained his title as most attractive person in the house--we had pictures taken for his birthday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Only two more radiation sessions to go! Last weeks bloodwork showed normal white blood cell counts, so I guess I can't keep claiming that I'm not allowed to change diapers. As if I ever was forbidden to change them--when I asked the nurse about it during chemotherapy, she said that I shouldn't change them if Conor had just been given a live virus vaccination, but that no one remembered that caveat and only remembered the part where the nurse said that they shouldn't change diapers.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Radiation is progressing; I have six more sessions. No side effects except for some sunburn-like redness around the radiation site. My blood work shows slow but steady progress to "normal". The radiation oncology resident said my red cell count was still very low, so I asked how low, and she said not low enough to require a transfusion. She's also the one that I asked about any possible side effects for radiating the surgical site and she said none really, it's not like the incision will open up again. Gotta love those residents.

I've been having fun watching various side effects from chemo recede, especially the whole hair growing thing. I now have enough stubble to make my head look like, well, like I have stubble. A promising start. And it's almost time to start shaving again, in case you were wondering.

In a lot of science fiction movies (especially those with alien abductions) they show scary medical facilities that are brightly lit, clean, full of shiny metal machines and apparatus. If they really want to make the scene scary, they should have a look at the machine I get under to get my radiation. It should, at some point, have been painted that generic computer gray-green but there are scrapes and wear that show layers of paint and bare metal in some parts. It should be covered with incomprehensible stickers (in my case, roller-skating teddy bears) that are peeling off in various stages. And there should be scuff and scrape marks over almost all the rest of the visible parts. I'm sure it works just fine (okay, I HOPE it works just fine), but the look of it just doesn't instill any confidence.

I had another confidence-shaking incident last week when I realized that they'd put one of the shields that directs the radiation in upside-down. I said something right away, and the radiation tech said oh, no, it was in right. But she checked, and sure enough it was in upside-down. As I was leaving she asked me how I noticed that it was in wrong. I was surprised because the shield is about 2 feet from my face and what else do I have to look at? Besides the roller skating teddy bear sticker, that is.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

The radiation treatments are progressing smoothly. They put tiny tattoos on me to guide the radiation, but since they're hard to see they enhance them by sticking large crosshair stickers on me and then drawing even larger crosshairs on my skin. Very attractive.

Hair. I'm still obessing about hair. We hung a new cabinet in the bathroom and it's a bit high so when I look in it I feel like the guy on the cover of the "You Don't Know Jack" game. I have enough stubble on my head to make my scalp look darker, but it's still only recognizable as hair from about a foot away. Some of the hair that's been with me throughout chemotherapy is now falling out. I'm growing eyelashes, which is quite exciting since I now have a couple of gaps that are only enhanced by mascara. Leg hair has also decided to make a return, although it's thin and not worth shaving. I still have the bikini line I've always dreamed of. Armpit hair, the first to go, has also failed to return. I can only hope that these changes are permanent (something I haven't dared wish until my head looked like it was really going to grow back.) Nose hair, on the other hand, is something I wish would come back. Nose hair is something few of us think about, but without it it's hard to be a member of polite society.

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