Monday, May 25, 2015

In other news

I have a very fine and thin layer of peach fuzz on my head, that I haven't noticed before.  Does this mean my hair is growing back?!!? :)

Long Restful Weekend

My cold attacked with a vengeance on Friday night.  And then Saturday night I had a slight scare with a low-grade fever.  The highest it reached was 99.45.  But I've been told in no uncertain terms that you call the hospital immediately if you have a temperature of 100.5 or greater.   But I didn't get there, so WHEW!

I was getting annoyed that I'm having to fight this cold right before my concert, but then I realized the timing couldn't be better.  With the long holiday weekend and then the timing of my two days off for chemo treatment, that equals five days off of rest and then hitting the ground running on Thursday for my concert. 

After that, I'll be recovered and can focus on closing out the school year.

Hastings was doing a free movie rental promotion this weekend.  10 FREE MOVIE RENTALS for customers with a rental account of 90 days or longer.  what?  So Superman showed up at home with all these movies, and that's pretty much what I've been doing this weekend. 

Sniffling.  Couch.  Movies.  Recovery.

Not most people's idea of a good Memorial Day Weekend.  But given the state of things, I'm ok with it.

Its been surreal ending this Spring semester.  I went to a music teacher party for a little bit on Friday night.  The rest of KCK has ended their school year, so they are all on their summer-has-started-high.  I'm usually counting down the days to the end of my school year too.  But this year, I'm counting down the days to other things instead.  Its strange.

So, for now...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chemo #9 and a cold

Chemo went fine yesterday. It was super hectic in the oncology unit, so it took longer than usual. Probably because of the upcoming holiday. They are having to fit in Monday's load into other surrounding days of the week. I have been battling a cold, so I was not pleased to be waiting around, ready to get back into pjs and rest at home. Thankfully, a cold is no reason to delay treatment, because I don't have a fever and my lab results showed all my levels were fine. Just feel extra yucky, is all. My sore throat from Monday has almost passed. Now I'm just dealing with phlegm in my throat, occasional minor coughing (clearing the phlegm in my throat), and a cloudy achy head. I already have a chronic runny nose anyway, haha, due to chemo side effects. 

The nurses said to just get some rest and keep drinking plenty of fluids, all of which I am doing anyway. 

Superman and I accidently have a tradition of watching Harrison Ford movies at my treatment. It started out with just watching the movies in Superman's DVD pouch. With my inclination of loving all things Harrison Ford and Superman's surprisingly large collection (I think he secretly loves all things Harrison Ford too! Haha.) we have watched them all and had to go outside our collection to the movie rental store. Yesterday's selection: The Fugitive
Great movie! It's been a long time since I've seen that one and forgot how much I liked it. 

I plan to go to work on Thursday and Friday. I NEED to go to work. I have a concert next week and I have a LOT to do. 

I don't know what my classroom has been like this week. Monday was a luck of the draw sub or maybe coverage in the building because I called in past the subfinder deadline. And then my awesome retired music teacher sub has been sick too! So I had someone else on Tuesday and today. I could be coming back to a little bit of a mess. We will see. 

There's tons of field trips and end of the year activities going on too. So I'm having to constantly adjust my plans. Whew. Just hope to have a mildly successful concert and get on with it. Trying not to let my perfectionism get in the way of my serenity. I just have to let it go and know that I am doing my best and everything will be FINE. 

I'm currently reading a book in bed, underneath plenty of blankets (hot flashes aren't bothering me at the moment with fighting this cold) and a cup of AMAZING earl grey tea. I don't normally have two cups of hot caffeinated beverages, but this was so hot, soothing, and delicious, I had to make some more. 

I'm reading a soothing and entertaining pride-and-prejudice era booked called Longbourn by Jo Baker and enjoying it a lot. If you're a Downton Abbey fan, this is a book for you. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Not doing it today

So I went to bed last night feeling super gross, but I had a busy evening going to my niece's graduation so assumed I had done just a little too much. Evening activities are always a bit rough cuz my cup is not runneth over with any energy whatsoever. 

Well I woke with a yucky sore throat, the usual hot sweaty/cold shivery bit, and feeling yuckier than normal. So I said, "Nope. Not doing it today."  I am keeping this butt in bed. All day long. 

I feel a great deal of guilt accompanying this decision. But I also know that if I were working at this moment, things would NOT be going well.  

I don't have a fever. I'm not vomiting or anything like that. I think it's just a garden variety plain 'ol COLD. I can't tell you how many children recently have put their faces in front of my face and said to me "Ms Reynoldz. My throat hurts. Do I hafta play today?"

To which I respond (after expressing that I'm sorry to hear they aren't feeling well today, but...) "You WILL get out your instrument. I WILL at least see you fingering along with the music today.  Nobody has permission to do nothing in my class."    They usually pout at me and hate my guts for about 10 minutes.  What often happens: One of two things, they end up remembering their love of music and participate as normal forgetting all about their throat. Or, they refuse to do absolutely anything at ALL and I write them a pass to the office/nurse "If you can't function normally at school, you need to be at home."  

Like me. At home. With a sore throat that one of you children presumably gave me. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book recommendation

I'm slowly making my way through the Lawrence Public Library's collection of breast cancer books. This one was VERY good:

Breast Cancer: Real Questions, Real Answers
By David Chan, MD

It's written in the format of question and answer, organized in chapters by topic. And it was the perfect mix of realistic and optimistic/empowering. 

Feeling gratitude for good available literature. And also my obsessive tendency to seek it out. (Which I have to say published literature is the way to go. Avoid the Google search binges!! Ha.)

I'm dragging my tired butt to yoga class today. 12:30. Then rewarding myself with take-out Greek food afterwards. Do it!

Healing. Acceptance. Gratitude (for literature, conviction, and Greek food!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Nothing is in control.

I have a 7 seconds of meditation app on my phone.  Its purpose is to increase mindfulness in your life.  Once a day, it gives me a message.  Yesterday it was "nothing is in control.  Smile about it and let go."

Last week, I went out to breakfast before chemo with an old friend/mentor.  Somebody I associate exciting and fruitful times with.  Although I had a great time catching up with him, I left feeling very moody and sad that I am, life-style speaking, a different person.  Not able to take charge of my difficulties and fix them my own way.  I have no control over how this plays out.  I have control over my CHOICES, of course.  But I am not in control of cancer.  I have no idea where it came from.  I have no idea what caused it.  I have no idea how to prevent it from coming back, aside from following the recommended treatments of my medical team.  I guess this is the fear that they speak about.  Women living in fear that it will come back.  Its really just a lack of control that's the culprit.  But I need to follow my phone's message and let it go.  Nothing is in control.

In our breakfast conversation, I found myself shrugging my shoulders a lot to comments and questions.  Because, that's the only response I really have.  Shrug your shoulders and wait for how its going to turn out.  And much to my annoyance, I had trouble concentrating on the conversation towards the end.  I was becoming mentally exhausted.  Chemo-fog.  And that made me irritated.  Having breakfast with him has been on of my favorite things to do, on that occasional day off from work.  Sigh.  Now these days off work are due to cancer treatment, and I can't enjoy them with full clarity like I normally would.

However, something really great that happened is that he put me in contact with another music educator who was a student at KU, shortly before my time there.  Five years ago, when she was 32 years old, like me, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  She blogged through the whole experience and now she is doing great.  She is a survivor.  Her job appears to be going better than ever, in the KC Metro area at an urban school, very similar to the schools I work in.  She is a dog lover and a yoga enthusiast, as well as being committed to being super fit.   She is a new mom, post-cancer, which for many women is not a possibility.  And she is very involved in spreading information about healthy eating, food products, and home cleaning products free of toxins and general bad stuff.  Her motivation is to create a better healthy life for her son.  She is a very wise, humorous go-getter with a positive attitude.  She is passionate about education, and writes thoroughly and at length.  I'm so glad she exists and I'm really enjoying reading her blog.

The slap stings

Superman woke me up this morning showing me this story on KMBC news.

First of all, this teacher is a friend of mine and I'm so upset for her.  I'm feeling it on behalf of all music teachers in our state.  Our governor is the reason for this atrocity.  Students rallying around their music teachers is a testament to how important we are in their personal growth and education.  She is a good one, and that community will greatly miss her.

Second of all, 4 years ago, I was that teacher.  Literally.  I was the teacher that filled that position for five years prior to moving to KCK.  This is a huge hit to their arts community.  So many opportunities for those kids will be lost.  They have a very sizable and successful program there.  How will they be able to uphold the huge success of that program with this kind of hit?  They won't.  The downsize will have a huge toll.  I spent five years of my life co-creating that kingdom.  And then stepping out and observing the success continue to grow from a distance:  such a feeling of ownership and happiness even though I was not a part of it anymore.  Five years of my passionate hard work, swirling down the drain as I type this.  Its not about me.  But, my cheek stings with the slap not directed at my face, given by Brownback and other educational professionals responsible for this horrible decision.

Third of all, if I had made different decisions in my life, that could've been ME.  Battling breast cancer and losing my job all in the same few months.  I very well could've still been working there.  It was a hard decision when I chose to move on professionally.  Tonganoxie is equal parts amazing and crazy-town, depending on what's going on that day.  I could've stayed there my entire career, and loved it.  But I didn't.

Life goes the way its supposed to go though.  Northwest/KCK couldn't be a better or more supportive place for me.  There's a handful of work colleagues that I KNOW I wouldn't be able to make it through my day without them.  Related to my cancer, or otherwise.   For this, I am grateful.  (Glad I'm feeling gratitude again!!!)

I'm having chemo #8 today.  Its my halfway day.  8 out of 16 infusions.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Finished Chemo #7 this week.  Everything went fine, aside from a random skin reaction to some of the medical tape.  That was strange.  They told me it was a yeast infection (for the skin?) and prescribed anti-fungal cream.  So strange.  It seems every time I go, some little thing has to go wrong.  Last week, it was my veins saying, no thank you.  This week, it was a skin reaction.

Its been an odd time.  This type of chemo has proven to be a huge relief from the last type.  Close enough to "normal" that the side effects are more annoyances than anything.  I've tricked myself at times into forgetting that I have cancer.  At times.  Then I remember, and.... frowny face.

The annoying things:
-being really tired and not going out and doing things I would normally do.  Superman created a fun date-night-matching-choice evening for me last weekend, and I was just too darn tired to go do it.  :(  Friday nights are a no-go for me now.
-my pants are all practically falling off me because I've lost weight.  Its been about 10 - 12 lbs, but its come off my waistline, thighs, and behind.   I had a music event this morning, and dug around in my drawers for pants that I don't wear anymore.  I needed to look nice and not have my pants falling off me while at a festival.
-my muscles ache and I feel weak.  I am remaining active, but I think I'm still losing muscle mass.  I was moving instruments around my room yesterday for instrument inspections and last night and today, my muscles are sooooo sore.  Like I went and worked out, kind of sore. Weird.
-Sweat.  omg.  so much sweating at night.  I wake up in the morning, DRENCHED.  So, not only do I feel unrested because I'm just tired all the time, I am hot underneath the covers, and when I get out, I'm FREEZING.

The result...Grumpy Goose.  Mornings are a bad time for me.  Granted, they were never good.  Superman is wonderful and asks me how I'm doing first thing in the morning and is generally lovable and supportive.  He hasn't gotten a cheerful response from me in weeks.  I get better after some coffee, but still.  I need to be nicer.

Also, with feeling relatively better, I've lost my commitment to being grateful and feeling acceptance.    I need to get back to that.  I've experienced a lot of success with my treatment so far, and I don't want to inhibit my progress because of my general mood.  I haven't been going to my yoga classes either, because of being tired all the time.  On the last chemo drug, I would alternate between feeling HORRIBLE AWFUL, and feeling pretty good, with my 2 week recovery time.  Now I just feel generally "blah" all the time.  I need to go to yoga.  Yoga.  Make it happen, Heather.  You're going to be tired and fatigued for a long long time.  Till at least October.  You can do this.  Its time to heal.

Acceptance, Gratitude, and Healing.