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Last night we handed in our earnest money for a new house. Today we’re looking for a home loan.

Yeah. I know.

It all started Sunday when we went out to look at a new development being built a few miles away. We do this every 6 mos or so, just as an exercise in checking out what’s available. Its a great conversation starter about our goals and expectations.

We found a great home, of course. But things got serious ONLY when we were offered the deal of a lifetime: no $ down, no closing costs, a 30 yr fixed rate loan at 5%, and no PMI.

The kicker, of course, is that we need to sell our current home. We’re going to sell for less than the appraised value, and are willing to make a wide range of deals to get this place gone. It’s a gamble.

My prayer for right now?

If it is meant to be, let it be.

If it is not meant to be, make it fail.

Clearly, we didn’t have enough to do.

Chemo #3 went well . . . but there was quite a bit of aftermath.

First of all, I seemed to get a bit of an infection that required antibiotics. This was on Wednesday, chemo day. I absolutely had a brain freeze and just didn’t think to tell my oncologist (yes, I know — stupid of me) until Thursday evening. (Thanks to my mother for politely pointing out that I needed to make that call immediately.) So I spoke with the on-call oncologist and he insisted I come in for a consult the next day.

So I did.They explained to me in simple terms that any infection may have serious repercussions. That I was not smart to not have told them, and don’t do it again. Moreover, they really don’t want me getting seriously ill because it may delay the next (LAST!) chemo treatment . . . the worst case scenario is that I would have to start all over again. The result of which is that I was given a choice between having a Neulasta shot or coming in every day over the weekend for a GbGH shot. So, despite my reservations, I had the Neulesta.

Now, each chemo cycle has had a shape, although each has been remarkably different. Day 1 sees me with a slight lowering of energy, but I can walk Sasha in the morning and evening. Day 2 sees a significant lowering of energy, but I have been able to walk Sasha in the morning, although it’s not at all something I want to do in the evening. Day 3 has been the worst — absolutely low energy, hard to concentrate on anything, loud noises (even the TV) are painful.  .  . it’s a bad day all around. This is the day that makes people worry — the usual Lisa is greatly diminished, my energy at an extreme low.

Day 4 sees a return of some energy, but also the onset of the bone pain from the Taxotere and the immediate start of dilaudid. So its a tad paradoxical: I *feel* better and have more energy but am ‘out of it’ because of the dilaudid. Day 5 and maybe 6 see increasing energy and are only bounded by the dilaudid. (Day 5 is when people say ‘you look more like yourself, you clearly feel better.’)

This time around, the Neulasta made a huge difference, aided by the infection and concomitant antibiotics, I’m sure. I was more tired, earlier, and the pain started on Day 3. Neulasta pain, btw, is described as ‘bone pain’ but it isn’t. It’s pain in the large muscles and the small of the back (perhaps shoulders), as if you were running stairs or lifting weights and overdid it. It’s not the crippling pain of Taxotere, which truly is bone pain (like you feel when you get a very bad fever).

I know, you weren’t expecting all of this talk about pain.

The final effect, which as easily could be what they mean when they say ‘the effects are cumulative’ is that I continue to be pretty tired. I’m having a hard time sleeping, likely because I’m not getting enough exercise (i.e., none), but I’m too low energy to feel like doing anything . . . other than walking Sasha 2x/day.  So I still get about 30 mins of walking every day.

So I’m thinking of getting a guest pass at John’s gym and going to their yoga classes. I don’t care if I can’t do 1/2 the poses, or can’t do them well. I also don’t care if I can only participate for a week before my next chemo session. It’s a way to get myself motivated, and it’ll be a little stretch (hah! a pun!) for me, but not too much.

So, I am recovering, albeit slowly. I’m taking care of myself. And I am VERY glad I only have one more session to go.

I have one simple addiction that has haunted me my entire life . . .

These are about 1/2 of my shelves. I own approximately 1500 books — greatly reduced and purged into those that I truly love. (When I moved cross country 16 years ago I mostly shipped 3000 books.)

What can I say? I love books and I love to read.

Here is our outside table, covered by our dog’s toys. (Occasionally, I take them, wash them, and dry them in the sun.)

Chemo #3 went just fine. No bad surprises.

In fact, I mentioned earlier that I was worried because I had a blood draw about 10 days ago and the number was VERY low (2.5). The MA said that I’d likely have to do a course of Nulestra (which forces the bone marrow to produce white blood cells). I don’t want to, at the least because it’s painful.

So I’ve been visualizing little factories in my bones, producing wbc’s at a high rate.

My blood draw today? 28.5 🙂 My oncologist said “keep it up.”

No Nulestra for me. We are good to go for the final chemo session on May 5th!

Now that I am seriously bald (there’s just a light shadow of hair . . . sort of a 5-o’clock thing) I’m strongly contemplating doing a mehndi tattoo.

For those of you who don’t know, mehndi is a temporary process that uses henna to stain the skin, usually in intricate patterns. It’s from India, and is a part of their celebrations, eg wedding parties will often be tattooed as part of the festivities.

It starts out black, and then flakes off to leave a dark red pattern that slowly fades. I’ve found a local practitioner who will come to my house to do it, and I’m thinking that doing it now will allow it to slowly fade as my hair regrows in mid to late May.

J. thinks I’ll be unhappy with it — that it’ll draw unusual and uncomfortable attention to myself. What do you think?

Here are some pictures so you have an idea of what I’m thinking about.

These give you an idea of how dark it looks just after completing the design:

Here is what the design looks like after the henna is off and just the tattoo remains:

From inside a burned out tree, at Willows Lodge (WA) Oct 2009.

Seriously, it’s been a great week.

I worked full days, and even overtime (by 9 hours) and . . . best of all . . .

I WORKED OUT

every single day.

I walked Sasha twice a day, for 15-20 mins each time. But that’s sort of baseline (at least on non-chemo days). I also got out my tapes and lifted weights as part of a routine for the first time in months. It feels great.

I have to laugh at myself, I’m so weak. My ‘heavy poundage’ is 5 lbs and I don’t last longer than 20 mins. But it is a huge step forward.

I feel so good. My vitality is back, I feel healthy again. It is amazing.

The Queen of Denial is not me. Oh, I’ll joke about it occasionally, but really, I’m incredible perceptive and accurate in my assessments of myself and the world around me.

The Queen of Denial is this woman: Dr. Desiree Pardi (the link takes you to the original story on the New York Times website). In a story full of horror and woe what comes through the most is the irony. A doctor specializing in palliative care puts herself — and her family — through a year of increasingly horrible procedures and pain because she refuses to admit that her cancer is not curable.

This is the horror of breast cancer, and it is not my story. It is, however, a story about the pain that denial causes and the ripple effect it has on those around the denier.

This is me being judgmental, I know. But instead of spending $1000s on ever-more-complicated treatments, she could have been doing everything she ever wanted to do, spending time in beautiful locations with her husband, and giving her loved ones, friends, and colleagues a chance to say goodbye. Instead of saying “I’m a survivor” she could have said “I did great work and helped many people, time to move to the next level.”

Fear of death is a massively powerful force. It takes a great deal of courage to face the unknown and slip into it gracefully. Dr. Pardi’s story is the story of many people. Her story is not my story, not least because I’m not dying yet.

It is also not my story because I am not afraid of dying . .  I’m mostly interested in avoiding any pain around the process of dying itself. Oh, and I’d like to know when I’m going to die so I can get it all accomplished before I move on.

I am very much looking forward to May . . . when the sweet fragrance from this rose will once again fill my nose and surround me.

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