FINAL POST (VS. SLUGS)

Yeah, I’m back – briefly, and possibly lastly (izzat a word—after 46 chemos I’m not sure of anything, but I’m now “qualified” – jeez- for “clinical experiments”).  EXCEPT:  I have a cold.  During 2 ½ years of treatments, Stage IV colon cancer, I’m still here because of careful lifetime exercise and diet…but one of you SOBs gave me a cold.  I’ve a friend who had only SIX chemos following surgery for ovarian cancer; and she’s suffered at least that many incidences of bronchitis/pneumonia.

 

LISTEN UP, SLOBS:  You are the slugs compromising my health, and that of everyone else.  WASH YOUR HANDS in public restrooms, at the gym, any place in public.  COVER YOUR FACE if you are sneezing or coughing.  I am a pacifist but you have no idea how I have to clench my fists to restrain myself from SMACKING SOMEONE who is coughing repeatedly over the produce at the grocery, wiping noses on sleeves, etc..  GAH!!   PLEASE grow some brain cells…

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THE PURGE (AND IT AIN’T PRETTY)

Since I have done everything prescribed to avoid cancer but am close to death anyway, after two years of struggling, I have decided to unload in this forum on three people who made my life a misery for four years.  For twenty years – ages 19-39 – I held jobs where my work ethic, professionalism, dedication, etc. were readily valued by my employers.  They knew I could be counted on to perform tasks without “micro-management,” that I was highly organized, showed up on time every day with a smile on my face and left nothing undone, that I treated their businesses with the same care as I would my own.  This resulted in positive feedback, raises and promotions.

Then came my only child after 15 years of marriage, followed by my husband’s early death.  After spending 9 years parenting and home-schooling my daughter I returned to part-time work (since I had to drive her to and from school), saved the money, went back to college for a year, then sought FT employment.  But the economy had tanked, I was over 50, and my hometown was one of the hardest-hit with NO jobs available.

For four years, therefore, I was forced in order to support my child into two successive jobs where I was emotionally abused on a daily basis, despite maintaining my own high standards.  The first job was run by a socially-incestuous family, the leader of which had failed SECOND GRADE fergodsakes and none of whom had attended college; two of three children of the owner lived in houses on his property, paid rent while their parents paid their utilities and reimbursed them the rent payments at Christmas; who hated themselves and each other but took out their venom on helpless employees.  The second job was for an attorney who, I soon learned, had fired 36 people over seven years – even though he never had more than three employees at a time.  I learned later that he had started his own firm because the large law firm for which he worked previously had said, “You’re on your last secretary,” and they weren’t sorry to see the back of him.

I had thought to expunge my extreme distaste for three particularly venomous individuals in letters to be mailed after my passing.  Instead, I’m going to do it here because I would not want my daughter exposed to any backlash, and because no one reads this blog anyway – every other body in the USA has a blog – although the culprits would easily recognize themselves.

So, don’t read what follows unless you’re in a vengeful mood yourself.  I have always been polite and considerate, but as there is no other cause, I blame these people for abusing me to the point that I had a breakdown, then lost my previously excellent immune system due to daily abuse, which opened the door to cancer.

(1)

cow, even if you started now

the rest of your life would not suffice

to mend all your offenses

out of spite and self-loathing

you’ve clawed and scarred

any who crossed your path

there’s no taking back the misery you’ve spewed

on all you knew, like a viral sack of sewage

but no curse could be worse

that having to be you

(And no-thanks for holding out the toy I bought for your child at arm’s length to show your disdain; for chewing my ass because your sister-in-law’s child had thrown papers all over the floor – I’m not his mom, I was not there, how was that my fault, bitch?; for imprisoning me in the office when you called up the foreman and tore him a new one for ten solid minutes, while you sat sobbing, shaking and ranting in a chair, because he’d had the audacity to inquire about an employee who was late; for telling me you were “hot” for your sister-in-law and that you’d impregnated yourself with a turkey baster – ewww – talk about TMI; for lying to your brother, with whom you have WAY too weird a relationship – remember stomping around the office in circles with fists clenched for ten minutes saying, “Bastard, bastard, bastard” because you were upset with him…and on and on and on, every day for almost three years.)

(2)

LIAR (I NEVER was behind in my work, while you were late every day and six months behind on inventory)

TRAITOR (I was the BEST of us three in that cramped office, never ONCE sending a shipment to the wrong customer/address or to someone seriously behind in payments, as That Bitch did EVERY MONTH; but her tongue is so far up your ass it’s dangling from your lips; and you’re not, as your only fan says, “Oh – oh – oh, you look so – so – SO cute” any more cute than a sow; you only maintain That Bitch as a so-called friend because she’s twice as fat as you.)

WHORE (Oh yes you are; you never loved him, just saw a way for the cheerleader-turned-lardass who let her toddler crawl regularly on a filthy bare floor to latch onto money; you forced me out of my job by lying and ignoring me when I had done NOTHING wrong in order to enable your sick sibling, who profited by foster-parenting until her jackass husband rammed his car into the establishment from which he’d been fired, to resume the job she had before I came along – and which she royally screwed up.  I hope she’s screwing up again; I hope That Bitch is still screwing up the business by sending shipments to the wrong place, speaking hatefully to customers on the phone, continuing to send shipments to delinquent customers because she is too lazy to look up their accounts and antagonizing everyone unfortunate enough to meet her.)

(3)

OCD BASTARD

“Did you leave those three staples on this table?!” “Did you move that trashcan in the lobby?!”  “Did you push in the chairs in the conference room?!” (Plus four 1 1/2″ sticky notes on a returned envelope because he would not pay for larger ones): “Explain to me how it has been returned again?” “Why have I had to spend $13 on postage for this?” — all this daily nonsense and hysterical abuse, when HE was the one who applied wrong postage to the envelope BEFORE I WAS EVEN HIRED.

“DO YOU HAVE A HEARING PROBLEM?” because I could not decipher some name like “Darcelophus” on the messages.  He marched me into his office and put the message on speaker-phone; I still didn’t understand the caller’s exotic name but the rest of the message was clear.  When I asked if I could listen at my desk on speaker-phone if no one was around – a clear advantage – he said no.  He kept badgering me until I actually saw a hearing specialist and gave him the results, showing there was nothing wrong with my hearing.

My GP, in whose office I had suffered a “depressive episode” crying breakdown before finally leaving the prior job because I just could not take it anymore, said, “I can tell you what’s wrong with this attorney you’re working for – he has multiple Personality Disorders, and these people can’t be fixed because they refuse to recognize there is anything wrong with them.  I have many patients like you who can’t find good jobs and are treated like shit by abusive employers.”

Well, that’s it.  I’ve vented and I’m going to try to leave all this abuse behind me; maybe my meditation and jogging will give me another year to be with my daughter.  If YOU have abusive employers, I suggest you do what in retrospect I should have done – quit and take TWO low-paying jobs if you have to make ends meet.  Anything beats being beaten like a dog every day, and contracting cancer as a consequence!

HO-HO-HELL!

The first three days after my initial “new” chemo treatment (12/19/13) were bad; worse; and I’m-going-to-wind-up-dying-in-the-hospital-on-Christmas.  (I can’t tolerate Erbitux anymore. After 34 successful treatments, it turned around and bit me in the ass – two bouts of folliculitis with staphylococcus.  Imagine the world’s worst case of acne covering your entire body.)  The pain was driving me to take 2 Dilaudids and a Doc-u-lace in the middle of each night.  I did not even shower, which I had previously believed led to immediate demise.  On the fourth day I cleaned up, changed my bag and did two miles (slowly) at the gym.  For the first time ever, exercise did not make me feel better.

 

When pain woke me at 3-4 a.m. on 12/27, I went downstairs for Dilaudid.  I remembered it was trash day so took care of that and a couple other things.  This may have been poor judgment, giving the drug time to kick in before I headed back upstairs.  But I never had issues with dizziness/balance in 2012, when I was taking 3 Dilaudids/day, whereas in 2013 I only take one occasionally; these issues started in 8/13 with Citalopram.

 

After using the bathroom, I leaned over to pet my cat – who shot off for the door; I lost my balance and fell directly on my left eye on a plastic basket holding shampoo and such.  My daughter took me to KMH, where surgery was performed that afternoon by Dr. W., associate of my regular ophthalmologist.

 

I was released Sunday and saw Dr. W. this morning at 9 a.m. – he came in on his vacation day!  It will not be known for weeks whether my vision can be restored because blood from a broken vessel is obscuring everything, and the tear in my iris will never heal…okay, I was never a beauty but I had pretty blue eyes, and I’m still a woman…but in two days my eye “pressure” had bounced back from 3 to a fairly health 13, the suture is fine, there is no vitreous leakage, and both retinas respond equally to light. 

 

My stool is becoming formed again but I keep an eye (bad joke, now) on things and take a softener with Dilaudid – which I did not need last night.  However, my 14-year-old dog vomited twice yesterday and after two years battling a degenerative nerve disorder may have lost her mobility; she weighs 70 pounds, so we all know what that means.  When I was at the hospital they gave me an hour-long infusion of something, and during the last five minutes I got all hot and itchy – reaction to yet another drug, for which they gave Benadryl.  When I got home I slept 12 hours straight, exhausted from stress and the fact that some poor patient in the next room seemed to have TB (incessant coughing).  I have been super-careful around the house since getting released, always bracing myself with a hand on something in case I get dizzy; but when I knelt to pick up something my female cat took that as an invitation to leap onto my back.  I had to get my daughter to spray the scratches with Bactine.

 

I am so deep in doo-doo that if one more thing goes wrong I am going to drown in it.  I have an appointment with Dr. K. later this month because at this point the falling issue has become top priority and I want to know if the balance issue can be addressed.  Am I having a Merry effin’ Christmas or what???   Happy Holidays to the rest of the world, honestly; at least you’re not me!

 

ALL THE NEWS TOO GROSS TO PRINT

…But here it is anyway (be forewarned):  So I got past the Erbitux and staph infections and the ER visit due to Erbitux “withdrawal” due to treatment for the staph and…and…and when I saw my chemotherapist Wednesday I mentioned I may need to see the dermatologist again.  I have a spreading red area under the outer ring of the ostomy bag flange.  First he said, “I can refer you to an ostomy nurse,” then, “Show me.” 

“Oh!” he remarked calmly.  “That is just a fungus (ewww).  See the little bumps?  Is it itchy?”  Yes to both, so he gave me a scrip and in two days it was mostly gone. 

But this is Sunday, when I change out the ostomy flange and bag for the week.  (My brother-in-law once asked if I did this every day – “Hell no, they’re supposed to last a week, and at $13 each out-of-pocket they better!”) I discovered the fungus is now all over the area under the UPPER flange area.  I put on the treatment, but then the new flange wouldn’t stick. 

I don’t know how many other poor suckers like me have both an ostomy AND Erbitux or other treatments that make bowel flow loose, inconsistent and uncontrollable.  I was at a loss about what to do – I have to wear the bag, yet I had to treat the fungus.  Finally I went ahead with my shower, shielding the ostomy bag from water as much as I could, and used a hair dryer on the flange afterward.  It dried out in a few seconds and seems to be sticking! 

I recently read (most of) The Cancer Chronicles and noted these items: 

  • The writer says my favorite vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) are full of natural carcinogens, and so is coffee.  Makes you wonder why any of us are still alive.

 

  • His approach reminded me of a book I read decades ago that destroyed the “Bermuda Triangle” myth, debunking one tale after another; for instance, discussing Love Canal where a school was built above a toxic waste dump, the Cancer Chronicles writer noted that the government spent $30 million because citizens applied pressure to politicians to prove the dump caused cancer – to achieve inconclusive results.  Numerous other studies about cancer were shown to conflict with one another. 
  • I’m taking this book with a grain of salt, though, because the writer states, “The average age of menarche for American women was 17 a hundred years ago, while today it is age 12.”  I don’t think so; it was 12 when I was 12, about  50 years ago, but even then I had friends (the obese ones) who started menses at 10; when I took my daughter to library events at the age of 10, MOST of the other girls were twice her weight and already had well-developed breasts. 
  • In the U.S., 50% of White girls now show signs of breast budding before age 10, with as many as 14% showing breast development by age 8. The average age of breast budding for African American girls is just under 9 years, with a significant percentage of thelarche development before age 8. Steingraber concludes, “It is now the opinion of most endocrinologists…that the falling age of puberty among U.S. girls is a real and ongoing phenomenon.” It’s less clear why this is happening and what should be done about it.[1]

 

My conclusion:  I still think my proposal for a universal detection tool is the most efficacious proposal.  Let’s just get out the rifle and shoot those dang coyotes that keep eating the chickens, instead of analyzing ad infinitum where the coyotes come from, how they get into the chicken coop in the first place, what parts of the chickens they attack first, which chickens are most susceptible, etc.

I know the first surgeon to whom I spoke after diagnosis thought I was “feisty” because, due to articles I had recently read, I factually disputed his claim that “good attitude fosters survival.”  I still disagree with him – although my own oncologist, the world’s best doctor (and the People’s Choice has said so five years running), does not – but putting things on balance, would he prefer a patient who is (a) Irish-German feisty and ready to fight, or (b) a quiescent patient, as the (chosen) surgeon told me most were, who just folds her hands in her lap, asks no questions and says, “Okay” to everything?

 


[1] National Women’s Health Network; my own internet research.

ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.

I’ve had three health crises in the past three months – adverse reaction to a prescribed drug that landed me in the ER; staphylococcus (tooootally disgusting); and abdominal pain (ER again) that seems to have resulted from the fact that, due the staph, they withheld one of my Erbitux chemo sessions.  I HAVE OVERCOME THEM ALL!!!   Today my daughter reads a blurb about Bill Nye – the Science Guy, whom we used to watch when she was little.  He’s smart, amusing, a great communicator…who was booed during a presentation in TEXAS because he said, “The moon reflects light from the sun.”   Jeez LAWEEZ. So often I reflect that our species DESERVES self-destruction because we are SO STUPID.  My two favorite actors come from Texas, but even if I were a traveler (which I’m not), I’d take the positions of Thelma/Louise and NEVER approach its borders.  You do know they have the highest national rate of capital punishment, right??

UGLIEST HALLOWEEN MASK EVER – EXCEPT IT’S NOT A MASK!

One of the chemotherapists recommended I see a dermatologist because after 32 treatments I finally developed “Erbitux rash,” which I would not wish on that horriblest person in the world from whom I had to humbly eat crap every day for three years because I could not find another job in the recession.  Basically I have the world’s worst acne ALL OVER MY BODY, wake up with my eyes glued shut, am itchy but can’t scratch and feel as low as I have throughout this entire 18 months of hell with cancer.

 

Luckily Humana referred me to some doctors right up the street at my old alma mater and I saw them Monday. They were super-nice but kept saying, after kindly typing up “a plan” for my treatment, that the five prescriptions “shouldn’t be that expensive.”  My daughter got a “life lesson” when picking them up because Kroger would not accept the card that pulls money straight from our checking account.  She called me, I called the bank, the bank said my daughter needed to call the number on the back of the card…because we had never spent $365 at Kroger before!

 

I am sequestering myself in the house for the next five days to make sure I follow all the “plan steps” (and because I don’t want to terrify the small children that live on our street).

 

In the shower, I use one product on my face, a second on my body and a special shampoo for which I have to set the timer because it needs to stay on 10 minutes.

 

After the shower, I apply another product that cost $180 to my scalp, cover it with a plastic cap and set the timer for four hours.  Then I shampoo a second time, wait awhile, and repeat the whole process (third shampoo of the day).

 

I also apply a fourth product to my entire body twice daily.

 

This is all very tiring and discouraging and I am seeing no improvement in my skin, which looks like it belongs on aliens from Ugliest Species in the Whole Damn Universe.  There is only one oral prescription, but it must be some powerful freakin’ stuff because I take just one tab, three days a week.  Even if I eat first I get nauseous, and then enjoy numerous trips to the toilet because I get Niagara Falls-style diarrhea.

MY VERY OWN MONSTER

I have become my very own personal monster.  Weeks ago lesions appeared here and there on limbs and torso, so Doxycycline Hyclate was prescribed.  Last Wednesday I saw an associate of my usual physician, who was out of town, because much LARGER MORE DISGUSTING BUT I CAN ONLY FEEL NOT SEE THEM lesions developed on my scalp; he prescribed a shampoo that cost $50, and I’m not allowed to put any other product on my hair, such as the moisturizing mousse that makes the rat’s nest more or less manageable.  A week later, not only has the shampoo produced no results, but I woke up with a red, puffy, painful eyelid AND there is a rash around the outer perimeter of my ostomy.  I put some Neosporin on it, left a message on the nurses’ line about these symptoms, and will try to survive until Monday when I have an appointment with a dermatologist.

If I designed the universe, when a human’s demise approached, he would experience a month of metamorphosis while all the pain and ugliness of disease fell away and he turned into a butterfly.  They have very short lives, ‘cept maybe Monarchs, but I don’t think they feel pain when they pass.

PISS AND POOP

PISS AND POOP

 

When my daughter was in high school, a college advisor visited one of her classes.  He came from a “medical family” and they wanted him to be a doctor (this actually happens; my daughter’s first doctor had two sibs and a father as MDs).  So the advisor scheduled an interview, and the first question addressed to him: “So—how do you feel about piss and poop?”  The advisor stuttered, thought it over, and found another career.

 

In dealing with colon cancer, a colonoscopy and side effects of over 30 chemo treatments, I know far more than ever desired about poop.  Most recently I’ve run into two problems that intersect.

 

The plumber’s been here twice because of back-up issues (only one of two toilets works and the bathroom sink drains VERY slowly); he’s coming back ASAP.  I like him so much he’s been my plumber for 15 years and the only dude I’ll let into the house when my daughter is home and I am not (such as when I was able to work). 

 

[Warning – EWWW coming up] (1)  Don’t think I’M a total dweeb – the plumber keeps pulling up plugging- up old tampons.  I thought you were SUPPOSED to flush them…and so do half the women I’ve talked to…but no, those little nasty brats are NOT biodegradable.

 

(2) A month ago, doctor gave me a ‘scrip for the skin lesions – like, mild acne but sometimes itchy – appearing on my limbs and trunk; I didn’t want to take another drug until, two months in, they showed up on my face.  Today I told his associate they seemed to be covering my SCALP – I can’t SEE them but I feel little bumps in my extra-thick, extra-curly hair.  SO, something else to adapt to – it cost $51 for EIGHT OUNCES of a special shampoo to be put in TWICE daily; and until this heals I cannot color my hair, or even apply the tinted mousse OR ANY OTHER PRODUCT.  Time to cut holes in a brown paper bag to wear over my head.

 

Hey, I still got “carded” when I was 30.  I don’t use make-up except lipstick.  BUT NOW I HAVE TO GO GRAY, and can’t even put on the wig I never used but which actually for only $36 looks like my real hair.  OH.  WELL. 

 

But oh well, what the hell,

Might as well be here as anywhere else

Whatever wrong turns

It’s prob’ly just as well

To be here as anywhere

I’VE HAD BETTER DAYS

I was in a lot of pain today because I turned out to be allergic to a new (for me) anti-depressant called Citalopram.  It made me VERY tired so I’d gone to bed around 6:00 p.m. Thursday; when my daughter got home from night class around 10:00 p.m. I rose to greet her, lost my balance and fell down the steps.  My splendiferous daughter called an ambulance while using six bath towels to clean up the blood that went flying everywhere.  They did a CT, put three staples from some kind of shotgun into my scalp for what was really a small wound, and sent me home.

Saturday I got dizzy and fell again, though not on my head.  My fat ass is taking the brunt of all this, but did you know even lard feels pain?  So my daughter called whoever-covers-off-hour-calls and we were told NOT to stop the Citalopram but to halve the dosage.

Today I called the GP I saw Tuesday, who took me off Citalopram and put me back on Zoloft, to see if it was OK to take a leftover Dilaudid from last year because chemo patients aren’t allowed Ibuprofen, and aspirin and acetaminophen do nothing for me.  This was AFTER I called the chemotherapist, who said to ask the GP, who said to ask the chemotherapist, who…anyway, I took the damned Dilaudid.

Meanwhile a guy working on my house knocks and asks for water because his partner may be having “seizures,” and the plumber has determined after I made an emergency call to him – and he then had the city rep come out – that he needs a special tool to clear the “main.”  I’m also keeping an eye on his truck because some creep from the park was casing it out.

Two more guys show up in my front yard; I go out and say, “Hello? Can I help you?” Turns out they’re “subs” who will work on the broken downspout, and one starts pelting me with questions about how the previous guttering was arranged, attached, etc. (I don’t know).  The supervisor fortuitously shows up, the plumber says he will try to return and that I can use the upstairs toilet as long as I dump two gallons of water into the bowl after.  You don’t want to know what I had to do in the meantime as someone with an ostomy whose chemo causes a dozen instances of diarrhea every day.

I’ve had better days.

COLOSTOMY DIET

COLOSTOMY DIET

 

Since I have Stage IV terminal colon cancer, a colostomy and a 35-year vegetarian lifestyle, it has taken me over a year to come up with the following suggested “base” diet that provides at least minimal amounts of protein; I’ve been told I may be less fatigued if I consumed up to 65g of protein, rather than the RDA of 50g.  Since I weigh 118# and am only 5’ tall, obviously I tuck in some other items around the edges because 830 calories are not sufficient, and because I can’t seem to keep my fingers out of the potato chip bag.

 

 

 

CALORIES

PROTEINg

2 slices

Brownberry white/buttermilk bread[1]

220

6

½ cup

1% milk

50

4

1

Boca “chicken” patty

140

12

¼ cup

4% cottage cheese[2]

55

6

½ cup

Canned fruit in water or light syrup, such as Del Monte peaches[3]

60

0

1 can

Green beans[4]

60

3

1 ½ oz

Aged Swiss cheese[5]

165

12

5.3 oz

Dannon Light & Fit Greek 2X Protein Vanilla Yogurt[6]

80

12

 

TOTALS

830

55

 

LEGAL CYA LANGUAGE:  I am just a patient, not trained in medicine, chemistry or nutrition (although I seem to know more than some certified nutritionists, such as the one who insisted  you could eat double servings of fruit if you dislike vegetables because the two are nutritionally the same…NOT so!).  Consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.  Also, don’t blame me if you try some drug you saw on a commercial that has so many potentially deadly side-effects, delivered at the speed of an auctioneer on crack, you have to wonder how the product ever gets sold.

 

Finally, for those of you can afford the $2/day it costs (I can’t), you might check out GELATEIN, which has 20g protein per ½ cup container.  It tastes like Jell-O with sand in it but is tolerable, except with the dozen other products I take every day, I don’t have another $60/month.


[1] Because I’m not allowed to eat the HIGH-fiber breads, beans and pastas I used to eat; that’s another reason I have trouble getting enough protein.

[2] Because I CAN’T STAND the low-fat types.

[3] I can’t have any fresh produce except orange-flesh melon, and no produce with skin on it.

[4] I miss salad so much! And asparagus! And all the “cabbage animals” (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts). They are verboten because they cause gas and my altered plumbing can’t handle it, despite the fact I take several Simethicone and Pepcid tablets daily.  The only oather “green” I seem to tolerate is canned peas.

[5] This has only lately been incorporated into my diet and seems to help firm the stool significantly.  Low-fat might work as well, but hell, every day is a struggle and I like the “real” cheese.

[6] This stuff is a godsend.  I have talked to at least six nutritionists; half of them knew their stuff and made some useful suggestions while the others had “suspect” knowledge, such as the young lady who said I should avoid all dairy products (THEN WHERE WILL I GET PROTEIN?) “because it is high in sugar which feeds cancer cells” – but the Mayo Clinic site calls this a myth.