There And Back Again

So the other day, Scott & I decided to go to Treasure Island Casino for a nice dinner and a little bit of video poker. Nothing big, but we wanted to take advantage of their 'free stuff on your birthday month' promotion, and we like the buffet (especially on Crab Leg night).

And we did mostly have a good time, other than the little snafu with the slot machine download thingie (but in the end I won lots of money - if you count 'more than 10' as lots)... and other than the rather serious conversation we had midway through.

The thing is, last time I was at Treasure Island was when I took Bren there in May. In May I was walking around the casino, and although standing in one spot got a bit uncomfortable after an extended period, I didn't have any problems to speak of.

In less than 5 months, I went from pretty much normal to having to use a scooter just to get into the casino, much less get myself around the building. Even a cane or walker would not have done it for me. I get winded if I walk half a block down the sidewalk. It's getting to be quite a project to get up and down the stairs in front of the house. I'm not just in pain, although I am in pain - I'm getting weaker.

Five months.

The thing about cancer is that from the inside, you deal with it on a day by day basis. So it's easy to overlook just how quickly it is eating away at you. You are too busy finding ways to work around the parts The Monster has bitten off.

But the fact is, The Monster is voracious, and it eats faster and faster. So it's time to stop and really think about what that means. We need to prepare.

It feels overwhelming. On both practical and emotional terms. We can't deal with it all at once, and it's not really possible to do so. As my friend Roberta says, the very end is fairly predictable, but everyone's path to that bit of road is different. So we can't know exactly what we'll need in the future.

But the future is coming on us fast.

And we're talking about it.

That's a start.


Stupid Faces... I Mean, Stupid Numbers

Every bloody time I go in to the doctor's office - most particularly the ER or the oncology office, a nurse, a doctor, or a janitor asks me what my pain level is, 1-10.

At some time in the past, they used to also show me a little chart with faces attached to each number, which is supposed to help you figure out which number you are at. "1" (or sometimes "0") is a happy face and "10" is crying.

Whether I am in pain or not, I never know how to answer this question. Secretly, I think it is a moronic question in the first place.

If I wasn't in any pain, why would I be sitting in a cold, uncomfortable waiting room for eons, talking to medical personnel, when both of us would rather be outside in the sunshine, eating butterflies or something? So "0" or "1" is already out of the question. But even if we disregard that issue...

How can this chart give any meaningful information to the medical person? I know for a fact that my idea of pain is completely different from another person's idea of pain, that my 3 might be another person's 8, so how can any useful information be gotten from this exercise?

I know this for a fact because once I went to the ER because the giant staph infection in my leg had actually dug so far down into me that it was in danger of actually eating through the bone, so the ER doc had the pleasant task of cutting out all the dead tissue and evil stuff going all the way down through my leg. He did this without anesthesia (by this I mean that he didn't give either one of us anesthesia - my guess is that the process wasn't much fun for him, either). I bit my lip hard and tried not to squeak.

In the meantime, the woman on the other side of the curtain from me was screaming loudly and without pause for breath that she was dying, and why wouldn't anyone help her, her head was going to explode. I'm pretty sure that the nurse dealing with her wished that her head would explode. Instead the Saint of Nursing just kept calmly and patiently telling the woman that she had a very mild ear infection, and the pain would probably go away when the drops took effect in a minute or two.

I think she was probably right, but the woman was too busy screaming to notice that now her ears only hurt because they were getting the full brunt of the intense decibel levels emitting from her own mouth.

My point being that I have had bad ear infections that caused me to vomit every time I moved, and I'd put that on about a 3 level for pain and maybe a 7 or 8 level of unpleasantness (because I hate nausea more than just about anything else), and this woman didn't have anything like that (because she wasn't throwing up, and if her ears hurt that bad she wouldn't have been able to scream like that). The staph infection reaming was much worse than the ear infection pain. But if asked at the time, my bet is that the screamer would have claimed a 10, and I would would have claimed a 6 or 7, tops.

An added complication is that even one's own pain is relative.

For instance, after I gave birth to my son - 36 hours hard labor, most of it on Pitocin, after an entire week of nonproductive but painful contractions every other minute, so that I hadn't slept the entire week - I had to have some X-rays done to make sure they'd gotten all the cancer out of my body two months earlier. I have tiny, rolling, collapsing veins, and the nurses couldn't get hold of any of them in order to inject the contrast dye. The fourth nurse, after fishing around in my arm for five minutes or so and seeing the black bruises blooming on both arms, burst into both apologies and tears. I was very calm and smiling, and just encouraged her to keep trying elsewhere on the arm, that it wasn't any big deal.

And really, at the time it wasn't a big deal. Not compared to the pain of childbirth, which was my yardstick at the time. My bet is that if you'd done the same thing to me ten years later, I wouldn't have been so nonchalant about the whole thing. The pain scale would have been very different.

And now, well, my pain hasn't been the same from one month to the next during this whole ordeal, but my pain scale reportage has been pretty consistent. Because I'm comparing my pain today with my pain yesterday, not with my pain last year. I have a hard time remembering what that felt like. It's been a long time since I wasn't in some pain, so for me that baseline 'normal' pain is now "1" and I go from there.

I doubt I'll ever get to 10 unless they either do major surgery on me without anesthetic, or until my life is in critical danger.

Screaming Woman would be at "10" with my baseline pain now. Because she is used to feeling No Pain, and that is what she expects out of life. Must be nice. I would have envied her, if I hadn't been wrestling so heroically against the urge to tie her in a knot and stuff her feet into her mouth to shut her the heck up.

So unless the only reason they want this information is to gauge your likelihood of erupting into hysterical screaming fits that might frighten another patient into having a heart attack, I don't really see the point of this whole 'Rate Your Pain' exercise.

On the other hand, it did inspire this. Which I think is much more practical as a real gauge. And also makes me giggle, making it doubly effective. I think they should use it in the ER.


Nothing Much Happening

Beloved Son is home sick. At least, he's not taking his morning classes, although he may go to the evening Biology course, since that's only once a week and so less forgiving of the occasional No Show.

Although it smacks of locking the barn door after the horses have fled, he and his hacking lungs and clouds of attendant germs are sequestered in his bedroom, from which he only emerges in order to receive from my loving hands dishes of leftover curried chicken and corn-on-the-cob and glasses of pineapple-coconut juice, with cold meds for dessert. He's evidently been sick (but sans cough and sniffles) for two days, and during that time he was kissing my maternal cheek and washing the dishes, so it's too late now for me to avoid The Plague.

But we go through the motions, anyway. So I'm currently sitting alone in the living room, typing away whilst listening to all sorts of odd tinny noises floating from his room - obviously he is watching Japanese Anime videos on his computer in order to while away the hours. Koff, snort, hack...

Much as I love his dear sqwoonchy face, I'm probably better off with the current view, which consists of a vase of autumnal-looking flowers from the dear husband, a big bunch of beautiful pink roses from the parents, and a huge balloon - one of those silver mylar ones, this one sporting not only the words "Happy Birthday", but also a cartoon rendering of a sizeable bouquet of non-mylar balloons. Something vaguely ironic about that, but I am too distracted by the sneezing fit I hear in the other room to think about it too much.

My son may be less a classmate than a Lab Project if he attends that Biology class tonight...


La Gimpe, C'est Moi

My last post was unintentionally misleading, for two reasons.

For one, by 'passing the half century mark,' I meant that I turned 51... to me, 50 is the half century mark, so passing it means getting past that age. I'm sorry if I confused you!

The other reason is that although I started out the year at age 50, in the past few months I aged from 50 to 95 in what is probably record time.

I haven't been in what you'd call prime shape for quite a while, but I used to be a pretty vigorous walker. This year I went from vigorous walker to hobbling walker, from hobbling walker to needing a cane, from needing a cane to needing a walker, and I don't expect it will be long before we start talking about wheelchairs. It's a struggle to get out of chairs, and a struggle to get in and out of bed.

And let me tell you, endocrine treatments don't do much for your reflection in the mirror, either. They suck all the juice right out of you, and suddenly your skin goes all crepe-ish and dry - one day you are respectably middle aged and the next day you look in the mirror and see your grandmother (except my grandmother had much better skin than I seem to have).

So in a way, on Friday I was passing my Century mark, as well.

I've always been precocious.


Another Year...

Today I pass the Half Century mark. I celebrated by going to Physical Therapy - very exciting.

Tonight I get to go to a show at the Brave New Workshop - a family tradition, since my dad actually worked there with Dudley Riggs and Dick Guindon all those many years ago. My son was in their Teen Performance Troupe. So heck, we practically own it, right?

On Sunday my mom is having us over for a celebratory Bouja supper. No, this is not the Bouja you are familiar with - we think that perhaps 'bouja' is Czech for 'stew' or something equally generic. This is a very unique thing, and it is Heaven. Along with the Czech potato dumplings (potato-sized, cannonball-weight), totally worth the gluten-induced pain the next day. I'll be half-good and have cheesecake instead of our traditional homemade birthday cake.

I promise to be good next week, but if you can't be a little bad on your birthday, when can you be bad?

I made it another year. Yay, me!


Reporting In

Well, I suppose that I should write an update on the whole cancer thing.

I did convince Dr. B to let me try Ibandronate rather than the 'gold standard' Zometa. Ibandronate has been around for a while in Europe, but has only been recently approved here for osteoporosis (as Boniva), and is not yet widely used for bone metastases in the U.S. However, it turned out that a partner of his in a different office was using it with one of her patients, so he allowed himself to be convinced.

The reason I wanted the Ibandronate is because in the studies done in Europe, Ibandronate has fewer initial side effects and much less renal toxicity than the other bisphosphonates, but performed similarly to Zometa. It has less of a long-term track record, so although it seems as though it may lead to less jaw necrosis than some of the others, there is no way to know this for certain as of yet.

But between my rather dicey kidneys and my tendency towards getting the nastier side effects, it seemed to me that Ibandronate would be a reasonable choice over the Zometa.

Unfortunately Dr. B did not leave instructions for the infusion center, and both he and his assistant were out on the day I was scheduled for the treatment. The other doctor available, unfamiliar with the drug, would only allow me to have the 'standard dose' - the one given for osteoporosis. No amount of argument would convince them otherwise. I spent the next day trying to get hold of either Dr. B or his assistant... and then had to come back in the next day for the other half of the dose.

Unfortunately, the drug was sent in the form given to osteoporosis patients, which was in an 'IV Push' rather than an IV Drip. Which means the drug was undiluted when the nurse pushed it into what she thought was a vein. But she actually pushed it into the tissue of my forearm.

So the next day I woke up with inflamed skin and a hard, painful egg-sized lump in my arm. The inflammation and swelling continued to grow, and the pain continued to increase, so I ended up in the ER on Sunday night, fearful that I might have an infection. After a few hours, during which many people came in to look at my arm but nobody had a clue what to do about it, they sent me home with orders to take Benadryl (which did nothing) and ibuprofen alternately with acetaminophen (which did very little).

I went in to see Dr. B the next day. They were more familiar with the problem (basically it is as though they pushed salt into my tissue and caused a nasty sort of internal burn, which is exactly what it feels like), but unfortunately there still was nothing that can be done. I simply have to endure it until it goes down on its own. Because of the extent of the damage - what everyone at the clinic called 'impressive' - they are predicting that will be sometime in the next 7 weeks or so.

Next time it will be an IV Drip. And hopefully at the right dosage.

For those of you who might be lucky enough to have the rare oncologist who is more open to newer treatments than my own: another advantage of ibandronate over the other bisphosphonates, due to the lack of renal toxicity, is that there have been two studies in which patients were given 'loading doses' of ibandronate, in order to get their blood levels up to the effective levels within a week, instead of the usual 12 weeks. This meant that their bone pain was relieved within a few days, instead of a few months. If I had the chance, I would take this option. More information about these studies can be found here - print it up and take it to your doctor.


Unspoken Acknowledgment

This week Scott dug up an old organizer of mine.

For decades now, I've always had some form of organizer that I keep with me all the time - it's how I keep track of the bills, of chores that must be done, of phone numbers that are important, of appointments, of dates that must be remembered. In it I also keep my lists and notes: grocery lists, To Do lists, recipes, knitting patterns, driving directions, things I learned while researching at the library or bookstore or a class. All of our financial responsibilities and information, birthdays, the phone numbers and addresses of all our friends and family, all in The Book.

I can't keep it all in my head, so in The Book it goes.

Scott used to make fun of The Book, when he wasn't exasperated by it. I don't know how many times he's stood at the door, fidgeting impatiently and rolling his eyes, while I rummaged through the house snarling, "It's important! We can't leave until I have That Book!!" Or worse, how many times he had to turn the car around and backtrack - sometimes for many miles - after hearing me gasp, "Oh, no!! I can't find my book, I must have left it back at X**. We have to go back - I can't do anything without The Book!!"

And I was right. The Book held all the information we needed to keep our little family going. Our finances, our chores, our friends and family, all our important information was in that book. The book has been, in a very real sense, the solid representation of my function in the family.

My organizer has gotten smaller over the years, as many of the functions of The Book gradually were taken over by The Computer. But still I have a little Book that I carry everywhere, a backup that mostly now just keeps track of doctor appointments, and the phone numbers of my emergency contacts.

On Wednesday, Scott asked if he could have my old organizer.

Today he wrote down the grocery list in his Book, and the names of the movies at the local Redbox that we thought we might want to see. Half an hour later, someone called to let me know that he had left his Book on the Redbox machine. When he got home, he had managed to acquire all the requested items (a first!) and I teased him a bit about having to backtrack in order to get The Book.

We laughed. But in the quiet spaces between, we know what it means. Now Scott gets the groceries. Now Scott is making payment arrangements. Now Scott is scheduling dates for family get-togethers. Now Scott jots down recipes.

He can't keep it all in his head, so in The Book it goes...

**Seriously? You don't know what 'X' stands for? What are you doing down here, reading this?


From Mothers, For Daughters

This is a hard one to put online, because it is very personal to my mom and to me. And yet I think it probably expresses a pretty universal feeling that a mother has when her child is seriously ill, and I suspect that some of my readers have been or are in one of those two roles now - or sadly, may be there in the future. Not everyone can express themselves as my mom does here, so this is for all mothers, everywhere, from the heart.

I love you, too, Mom.


I remember you standing in front of the ostrich cage,
Pretty in the little red and white blouse I’d embroidered for you,
Holding up your reddened finger, your eyes full of tears.
“He must have been hungry”, you said.
We hugged you and told you it would be all right
and the ostrich must have liked you.

I remember the sound of your small feet pattering up the apartment stair,
running to find me, calling down the long hall.
You came weeping and holding your poor bloodied elbow.
“I fell down Momma – it hurts!”, you said.
I patted your blond head, put a bandage on the wound and said
“There, there, it will be all right.”

Now you walk toward me, my dearest daughter, my best friend.
I see the pain in every step, the effort it costs you to move.
The terrible disease inside you is hungry. It hurts.
I want so much to use the magic cure (it’s always worked before).
Now why can’t I say “Here my love - it will be all right –
I’ll just kiss it and make it all better”?

Barbara Maloney


Another Country Heard From

From Dec. 15, 2003 PubMed: Institute of Ultrasonic Engineering in Medicine, and Clinical Center for Tumor Therapy of 2nd Hospital, Chongqing University of Medical Sciences, Box 153, 1 Medical College Road, Chongqing 400016, China. mfengwu@yahoo.com

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a noninvasive treatment that induces complete coagulative necrosis of a tumour at depth through the intact skin. This study was to explore the possibility of using HIFU for the treatment of patients with localised breast cancer in a controlled clinical trial. A total of 48 women with biopsy-proven breast cancer (T(1-2), N(0-2), M0) were randomised to the control group in which modified radical mastectomy was performed, and the HIFU group in which an extracorporeal HIFU ablation of breast cancer was followed by modified radical mastectomy. Short-term follow-up, pathologic and immunohistochemical stains were performed to assess the therapeutic effects on tumour and complications of HIFU. The results showed that no severe side effect was observed in the HIFU-treated patients. Pathologic findings revealed that HIFU-treated tumour cells underwent complete coagulative necrosis, and tumour vascular vessels were severely damaged. Immunohistochemical staining showed that no expression of PCNA, MMP-9, and CD44v6 was detected within the treated tumour cells in the HIFU group, indicating that the treated tumour cells lost the abilities of proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. It is concluded that, as a noninvasive therapy, HIFU could be effective, safe, and feasible in the extracorporeal treatment of localised breast cancer.


Looking Great

Two pieces of potentially useful information:

"You look great!!"

I know that this is intended as a supportive statement, but please don't say this to a person with a life threatening or serious chronic illness, unless you know that how they look is something they - as an individual - particularly care about.

Now, if they just got a new outfit, or a new wig, then fine, compliment them on the new fashion attire.

But generally speaking, a person who is currently in great pain, or struggling with nausea, or looking at their last few months of life... that person is unlikely to get too excited about how he or she looks. Unless they are concerned about their looks for specific reasons, or unless you know them to be a person who is consistently very concerned with appearance, the seriously ill person is likely to interpret your statement as a denial of their illness. It can seem to them that you either don't want to believe that they are truly ill, or that you want to keep them from talking about or showing any signs of illness while you are with them.

Neither interpretation reflects well on you, and it puts the ill person on the spot, forcing them to come up with a tactful reply and to try to conform to your needs without really knowing what those needs are. People who are seriously ill have enough on their minds without having to deal with that sort of thing. Do them (and yourself) a favor, and instead either compliment them on a specific thing - the color of the new outfit, the attractiveness of the new haircut, the cut of the new outfit, the color of the new hair - or present a different subject of conversation. You'll be doing everyone a favor.

That said, the second bit of information is about looking good.

Most forms of chemo treatment affect your hair. There are also non-chemo drug treatments that thin your hair or cause it to fall out in patches (as well as causing very unpleasant scalp/skin conditions, but that's a different story). It's all, as they say, No Fun.

There are stores and websites at which you can buy various types of hats and wigs and other types of head coverings. The American Cancer Society, for instance, has an online store and catalog that has very reasonably priced options. But today I want to bring to your attention two particular online sites.

One is heavenlyhats.com, a charitable organization started by a thoughtful young man inspired by the plight of pediatric cancer patients in a local hospital. This organization will send out free hats to cancer patients and folks with other medical conditions that affect hair growth - Male Pattern Baldness does not qualify, sorry. If you need hats, go apply. If you don't need hats, but you'd like to donate to a good cause, go there and give.

The other is France Luxe, a website store that sells a wide variety of hair adornments - barrettes, headbands, scarves, turbans, jeweled hair sticks, etc. The lovely CEO of France Luxe, along with her employees, will send cancer patients one free silk or cotton headwrap of their choice. All you have to do is go to the website, click on the little 'Good Wishes' icon at the top of the home page, and you will find the application. This is a very generous thing for them to do - so if you have a wedding or prom coming up, or if you are hankering for something pretty for your hair, please check them out and see if you can support them by buying something nice for yourself. If you go here and buy products from this page, 20% of your purchase will go to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. Other than chemo, there are currently few treatment options for those with triple negative cancer. Anything developed that would cure or control triple negative cancer will also cure or control the other sorts, too, so it's a good cause for all.


An Idea Whose Time Has Come

So we were going through our stuff, and came across the drainage pads that I got after my bilateral mastectomy, for the lymphedema in my chest. These are basically two quilted pads that are sewn specially in a way that channels the fluid under your skin downwards so that it can drain correctly instead of pooling and turning your chest into a painful and weird human waterbed arrangement.

These suckers are not cheap - they are at least $80 per pad, and I had to have both the Left and the Right. They are in excellent like-new condition, as I only needed them for about six weeks.

I have breast prosthetics, they are very nice; I've used them twice in half a year, and am unlikely to use them more than that again in the next six months - and that probably won't add up to very many wearings before I won't need them at all. They will be pretty much like new at that point.

I have a scooter. Eventually, for one reason or another, I'm not going to have use for it.

I'm getting a wheelchair lift. Eventually, for one reason or another, I'm not going to have use for it.

My husband and I have side-by-side hospital-style adjustable beds that held together make a king bed, and eventually he won't need that any more and may want a regular bed again.

Let's face it. Most of us who have cancer, and most especially those of us who have Stage IV cancer, end up buying things we need because of our illness - and then eventually we stop using these things, often long before they have become too worn to be useful. Many of these things cost hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.

And yes, I could sell some of them for a bit, and the person who got a deal will be happy - but the small reimbursement won't be anything near what I put into these things, and won't make a dent in the debt we incurred in getting them.

I would find it MUCH more satisfying to be able to lend them out to other women who are going through the same struggle - women who can't afford a scooter, or a wheelchair lift, or a nice wig, or a good walker, or prosthetics. Perhaps (since this is currently only a dream) a wheelchair van or two. The only rule would be that you have to check in with the item once a month, take reasonably good care of it, bring it back when you are done with it so that someone else can benefit... and hopefully donate whatever you do buy when you are done with that, too.

Yes, this is my dream. And my husband's, too - he thinks it's a wonderful idea.

The only problem is that we live in a tiny house that doesn't have room for the stuff we already have, much less have room for an Cancer Equipment Lending Library.

But if there were someone else in the Twin Cities who happened to have a garage or other accessible storage space who would be willing to house such a thing, please let me know. We'd be happy to help organize and work at such a thing - think of what a blessing it would be to so many people!


... And Mostly The Ugly

Dr. Bouncy rather anxious to put a positive spin on things. Which is not easy to do.

The hip tumors may, as he points out, have a very slightly lower SUV. SUV is a measure of how bright a tumor looks on the PET scan; the brighter the tumor is, the more active the cancer cells are in replicating.

I don't necessarily see it, but that is what he says. On the other hand, they are very noticeably larger than they were in early July. Which is not good.

Even worse, there are two new tumors. One in my spine, a vertebra right between my shoulder blades. It looks pretty big already. The other is in my collar bone, near my shoulder. Also not tiny.

Dr. B, desperately chipper, "But at least it hasn't moved into your liver or your lungs. That's good, isn't it?"

I suspect he doesn't want me to be mad that he pushed me into the radiation, when mostly what it did was make my hips more brittle and made me go off my meds and supplements, which may have been slowing the spread of metastases. These showed up awfully fast, and are growing very aggressively.

So. Not good news.

And of course, the next steps are to push me into more drastic meds, with worse side effects, and no more likelihood of working any better than the other meds or the radiation.

But I don't have a lot of options available to me. I can't afford to go to Europe or Mexico, and although they have some options that are not available here - options slightly more effective in some cases and considerably less toxic - in the end, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a very aggressive cancer, and I am not very responsive to drug therapy. Or radiation therapy, evidently. I have to either go with what I'm allowed and hope for a miracle**, or just sit back and wait as the monster eats me.

So. We're going back to the basic endocrine drug, Tamoxifen, which I preferred not to take before the aromatase inhibitors, because the AI's have a slightly better effectiveness on average, and the potential side effects of the Tamoxifen are nastier (depression/mood swings, blood clots and stroke, for instance). But different people react differently to the different drugs - Tamoxifen works on a different basis than the AI's, and strengthens bone, so it's possible that I'll respond better to it. I asked him about doing this before the radiation, and at that time he was unwilling to try it, but evidently he's recently gone to a conference where some researchers claimed that Tamoxifen seems to work better for women with higher body mass indexes (that would be me). So we'll try that.

Plus we're going to try - at least for a little while - the bisphosphonates. Also not something I'm looking forward to, but I did talk to him about one that is well established in the EU but not used much here yet as an IV treatment: ibandronate (Boniva, which orally is now being used for osteoporosis in the US - at a much lower dose, of course). The studies are showing that it has similar effectiveness to Zometa, the 'standard of care' here (if you can afford it), but with a lower side effect profile. Dr. B hadn't heard of an IV version for breast cancer, but he checked it out, and look! I was right! Plus it turns out an outlying clinic of theirs has a doctor who is using it on certain patients. So Dr. B is checking things out, and if it all works reasonably, that's what I'll be taking.

I also asked about prescribing me Iscador (mistletoe) as a supportive measure, but he nixed that. He is purely a standards-of-care guy. But he said he wouldn't tell my other doctor not to prescribe it. So we'll see if I can push Dr. P into it... although it took a year to get the Low Dose Naltrexone, and at this point Dr. P is completely against DCA (he doesn't like the side effects, although they are similar to, but both milder and less permanent, than the side effects of chemo).

I wonder if I have another year to convince Dr. P about the Iscador?


Clock Ticking...

So. Dr. Bouncy has not called to give me the results of the scan. Traditionally, he has called me before our followup appointment when the news is bad, so this could be good news.

Or, conversely, the news could be so devastating that he feels obligated to tell me in person.

Or maybe he forgot.


Followup appointment in 8.5 hours.

Labs drawn at 10:30. The nurse at the scan on Monday told me my veins are starting to scar up, getting hard to get into - this is bad, since they have always been tiny, rolling, collapsing veins. They've always had to use the 'baby needles' to get in, and they usually leave bruises from all the fishing around they do with the needle. I've never been able to donate blood, they need to use needles too large to get into my veins. I really don't want to have to get a port just so they can take the stupid vial of blood... I'm so likely to become allergic to the stupid thing, among other issues.

They will, as always, weigh me. I may regret all that State Fair food.

Dr. Bouncy at 11:00.




Sad News

My dear friend Timary's husband and beloved, Martin, has passed away. His time of struggling with this monster was either mercifully short or brutally swift, depending on your perspective. Six weeks does not seem enough time to deal with the emotional and practical aspects involved in losing a devoted husband, a loving father, a gentle friend.

I know you will join me in loving thoughts and prayers for my friend and her young son in this difficult time. Thank you for being there, dear readers...