Wednesday, January 31, 2018

First "cycle," not exactly a ride on my Rockhopper

Prescription arrives, don't do what?

Papers, papers, papers, read, shred...
So these days I am entertained by the strangest things, for example reading everything that comes in the mail along with my new oral-chemo-drug. With much pomp and circumstance, I received exactly 4 phone calls from the mail-pharmacy regarding shipping, revised shipping, side effects and instructions.
All that paper there on that picture came along with my supply of poison for the next "cycle." These Don Quijote pills (Ibrance/palbociclib) come armed to the teeth, one of the most intriguing cautionary statements: "do not open capsule, if contents spill on the skin they may cause severe burns."
Ooookaaay, but go ahead and pop one of these inside your stomach on a daily basis, THAT will be just fine.

Undeterred by the dire warnings, I am through my first 21-day cycle of popping these beauties, along with the prescribed Sancho Panza chaser (Femara/letrozole). Yummy!
Now I am told to lay off the big one and just take the little one for the next week; then the cycle repeats.


So how goes it?

Still kicking! Actually that pic taken
last summer at a festival
Well, speaking of "cycle" I happen to be unable at the moment to "bi-cycle" due to some of the less heralded and most annoying side effects (figure it out). But whatever. I mean why couldn't constipation and the accompanying "localized soreness" be a side-effect of driving drunk? Those people deserve it, not cancer patients. But I can take it. And mind you I'm not talking about riding on my beloved Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike, which has been sidelined due to the risk of bone fractures. I am merely talking about riding indoors on my very safe indoor spinner cycle while I watch episodes of my favorite shows, to wit: Dual Survival, River Monsters, Too Cute! and anything else on the Animal Planet Channel or almost anything on the Discovery and National Geographic channels. Such is my life.

But oh hey! I CAN walk and we are now enjoying a very unusual and magnificent spell of mid 70 degree sunny as can be weather. The blissful nearby park is my daily medicine.

Aside from overwhelming physical weakness and lack of ambition, or as we say in Spanish "sin ganas," I can say so far so good. No major side effects have befallen upon me and there are some seriously scary ones listed on the 15-page pamphlet that comes with my meds. For that, I am most thankful and looking forward to a week off the killer med. This week "off" should allegedly allow my white  blood cells and red blood cells to recover; and they are loooow right now, well below the low threshold of the "normal" range.
Normal, what a concept...



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Weekly bloodletting and my cancer illustrated (cool images!)

Bloodletting

I'm off in a little bit to my weekly free blood give-away to my very gentle techs at the Oncologist. Funny the things you get used to in life, really doesn't seem like a big deal and I'm usually in and out in 15 mins or less. I joke with the techs about alternating veins on a weekly basis and perhaps I will start to draw emojis near the injection sites to see if I can make them smile. Hard working boys and girls in there, let me tell you, and serious as the task at hand.
Not exactly like that anymore...whew!

The reason for the weekly blood draw is mostly to see how my white and red blood cells are tolerating my Don Quijote and Sancho Panza therapy. You see, killing cancer cells also kills other fast reproducing cells, like blood cells and hair cells. Still have all my hair with no sign so far of brittleness. And it still is rapidly graying, sigh, make that "whiting!"

Lighting up my bones

Now for the fun part. So as far as I understand it, CT scans are very sharp for precise location and diagnostics of lots of things and PET scans determine "live" stuff going on in the body but they are a bit blurry. So the combo PET/CT scan shows the active cells in the body, in my case the cancer munching away at my bones (cells actively multiplying). PET also shows "unbelievable superior intellectual activity"...oh wait, I read that report wrong...it just says: "brain activity." Sigh.
Anyway, happy to find out I don't have cancer in my brain, as a subsequent CT scan showed, some on my skull, but my thinking is clear (so I say).

And through modern technology and patient access to records, I entertain myself with all these images I don't quite understand fully. But here are some cool pics of my insides, my first PET/CT showing (hopefully) maximum spread. Next such test not scheduled yet, usually comes 5-6 months after therapy begins to check for effectiveness of therapy.


Showing my spine light up like a Christmas tree
All those dots on sternum (chest bone) and ribs
also are signs of metastasis, or cancer spread

Oh hey, look at me!
Again, my bones lighting up.
Happy to report hardly any of those hurt,
usually some rib pain, maybe some hip pain,
 and at times a very tight spine.
Pain...I laugh at you, pain!



Monday, January 22, 2018

Keep on living and remain calm

Another milestone

According to the web, the magic pill that blocks growth/spread of cancer cells comes at a price. To be exact, about 9850 per month, that's in US $ and that's nine-thousand and eighth-hundred and fifty (insert incredulous emoji here).
My prescription was approved until 2021 and I have to thank my lucky stars for good insurance again. Imagine not being able to afford that, not having insurance, not being allowed to take the magic pill that will hopefully lengthen my life-span to...who knows!

Anxieties evolve

My new life is a bit like jumping off a cliff,
I just hold my breath and take plunge after plunge
"You have cancer"
"You have Stage IV breast cancer"
"Your cancer may be hormone receptive"
"This medication may help you live a long life"

Reacting to those statements comes with different anxieties. First of course is disbelief, then after acceptance comes a feeling of despair. Stage IV breast cancer, not long ago, carried the odds of survival at 18-19% for five years. Sooooo, let me get this straight, I have a one in five chance of "making it" for the next five years?

Those anxieties subside and the hormone therapy marvel comes to the rescue. I now increase my odds of surviving to maybe 10-20+ years! And then the wait for the meds...approved? not approved? Took many web searches through various formularies (list of medications approved by my insurance) to find the pesky new drug right there in my insurance company's formulary. Still the wait...

Today, finally, a call from the pharmacy that my prescription is being processed, all 9K of it. That's per month, average cost of cancer treatment. Invest in pharma!
A sigh of relief at last...

Keep on walking

Now to wonder if the magic is working and how long I will be on this wonder drug Don Quijote and its smaller sidekick Sancho Panza, those are my nicknames for them. Windmills beware!
Beware windmills! I have a fighting team
Ibrance and Letrozol are the real names of
my daily meds,
plus a bone building some-acid-thing
which I take once monthly via IV
I am now on Day 12 of treatment and feeling rather guilty at being constipated, only notable side effect so far. Well there is the underlying fatigue, I wrote on my FB page that I feel like I'm driving 15 MPH on the freeway...but I'm still driving!
With my new putt-putt engine, I am working out a work-out schedule that makes me feel better and keeps me exercising. 1.5 miles instead of 5, sometimes divided into two tiny walks. Bike at night to  strengthen leg bones and muscles. Haven't taken up the upper body workout or weights yet due to slight rib pain, but I'm starting to lift the 3 lb dumbbells that I kept around just in case. Those 10-pounders seem like a lot right now.

Pretty much all I can do is keep on walking and keep on finding ways to enjoy my new life. Hey the sun is shining again in my favorite park!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

A mountain of paper and a boatload of cash

Can I PLEASE! go paperless?

Oh the hidden joys of medical care...
I am not a hard-core environmentalist but over the years I have managed to curb down the incoming mountains of mail to a minimum. We have one (1) file cabinet at home and almost everything regarding statements and bills is now automatically paid and kept electronically in the deep gullet of my computer. So imagine my pure horror when I begin getting two, three, sometimes five statements in the mail on a daily basis! Add to that medical instructions, receipts, printed (printed!) appointment schedules...
I am buried in paper.
On another note, I wonder where my little piece of liver went?
So much for a clean desk!
I had to create some actual physical file folders
before going paperless.
Must be over 30 statements in there!
No no no noooooooooo! So I spent the last few weeks creating online accounts with my insurance carrier, the insurance management company, primary medical facility, pharmacy, oncology center, laboratory, diagnostics place and I believe that covers it. And in each instance, the first thing I did was look for that magic "paperless statements" button. I had to make some phone calls but I think I'm paper free again.
Looking at all those files, I can't believe it has only been seven weeks since that fateful day when I got the first X-ray that triggered this whole surreal adventure.
I am adding a calendar of events to the right column just for grins and giggles.

Say again, how much was that tube-thinguie test?

Yeah, and of course the innocent flurry of statements is quickly followed by a galloping herd of bills. Paper bills, sigh! More online accounts, set up everyone for electronic pay, found the "paperless bills" button, more phone calls. Who knew being sick would be this much fun?! I'm my own secretary now, I even answer the phone:
"Maria's secretary, can you hold?" "Yes one moment I will see if she's available..."
In addition to the sheer shock of the cancer thing, I guess I have to add a slight "discomfort" when looking at all these statements. Blessings for the insurance, good insurance that we have.

Here is a sampler of how much
all those tests cost.
Multiply by as many pieces of paper
you see in the first picture and...ouch!
And the reason I'm not even more shocked at how much everything costs is that I found out a few years back when my Papi had a stroke. I took care of all his bills and such things for twelve years. I often wondered what on earth they gave him at the hospital intensive care unit on his last few days that could have cost $87,000. The neurologist that came into his hospital room for three minutes to tap him in the head and say: "he's not going to die from this!" charged $4600...and my Papi died two days later.

Ah well, I should have gone into medicine I guess.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Good days and a chunk of liver

Good days

I am now more than ever cherishing the "good days" in life. Even they have changed! A good day used to be a very productive day, a day in which I reached a new spot on the mountain, or made major progress in some new art project in the studio.
In my new normal, a good day is a day without pain or fever. Sometimes a simple blood test can trigger a pesky low-grade fever, not high enough to worry, but one that makes the body feel out of sorts, as they say in Merrica.
An oasis in the desert
Wetlands park just down the street

I just had a few good days in sequence, enjoyed some light yard work, a few walks, started an indoor bike riding regimen and so on. To be completely truthful, the indoor bike has less to do with my "condition" and more with the Australian Open (tennis) which is now in full swing. Luckily, my indoor gym is well equipped, my Garmin watch talks to my indoor bike after some cold welding and tweaking, and the extra TV is tuned in. I get to combine my love for sports and my new strict health and fitness routine. Not bad!

Oh yeah, the liver thing

With most of the diagnosing and testing done, there was an unresolved condition regarding my liver. If I understand it correctly, I have iron overload and liver enzymes are off the charts. My very patient oncologist explained the situation to me and thought it best to take a chunk out of my liver and see what is really going on. So happens, if in the future I need some chemo, the liver thing has to be resolved.
That's how a biopsy is done
fortunately they first numb your skin
so you don't feel a thing!
The (slight) pain comes later
on the biopsy site, along with bruising

So off I go into the "special procedures" realm. You know by now how this goes. First a bunch of instructions which almost always include starving the patient before the procedure. The patient is me and my blood sugar plummets so easily now...sigh.
I can do this really fast now: Sign in, wait, check in, wait, go to the secret room, disrobe, wait, IV in my arm with some sedative that didn't make me feel gushy and dreamy (drat!), wait, wheeled over to the CT/poke room, breathe, don't breathe, little pinch, poke and click!, there goes my liver chunk off to some mysterious lab.
Now they want to keep me for two hours to make sure I'm "stable." HA! Obviously they don't know me...go ahead and try to be still for two hours...they go by sooooo sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooly...like that
I'm laying on my poke-site so there is pressure on the hole between my ribs so the hole won't bleed. After a while I'm having trouble breathing normally so I sneak onto my back. Much better. Somehow my diaphragm is not working properly but I shallow breathe for two hours enough to keep my oxygen normal. While watching the vitals monitor, I play with my heart rate and watch it go up when I move my legs and down when I lie still. How fun!

Two hours, done, discharge instructions...my beloved husband comes to pick me up and I sit like a zombie for the rest of the evening, AFTER I gobble down something tasty.
Another test, another wait for results. I wonder where my tiny chunk of liver went.

I'll wait for another blog post dedicated to the nightmare of paperwork that comes along with the medical stuff. It's really unbelievable the amount of paper and money involved, and I consider myself extremely lucky that my insurance and other finances are in good shape so far.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Major developments, frenetic days

I want a new drug...

Remember that song? by Huey Lewis and the News? Here is the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6uEMOeDZsA
Lyrics excerpt (it's actually a love song but if the shoe fits...):

Oh
I want a new drug, one that won't make me sick
One that won't make me crash my car
Or make me feel feet, feet, feet thick
I want a new drug, one that won't hurt my head
One that won't make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red
I want a new drug, one that won't spill
One that won't keep me up all night
One that won't make me sleep all day
One that won't make me nervous
Wonderin' what to do 
I want a new drug, one that does what it should
One that won't make me feel too bad
One that won't make me feel too good
I want a new drug, one with no doubt
One that won't make me talk to much
Or make my face break out
inane stock photo of IV to illustrate...


Hey! I GOT a new drug! 

Let's start with a nutshell oncology visit (confession: I love my doctors, all of them) in which I was told indeed I am a candidate for that marvel of marvels known as "targeted hormone therapy." So I learned that there are many types of breast cancer and my particular set of circumstances makes me a candidate for this wonderful no-chemo-no-radiation-no-surgery POTENTIAL treatment. Now to see if it works...the suspense is NOT killing me but a new more calm anxiety appears in my life accompanied by weekly blood work and an addiction to "my lab numbers."

The visit started with a visit to the financial department who wanted to make sure we could afford what insurance won't pay. Quickly to the doc after an hour wait (not kidding), then my first "labs," followed by some very confusing prodding on my part with three different people to get a 30-minute IV drip of some stuff to help my bones, finally got it done. I am handed a schedule of appointments, delivered to my IV treatment chair, how nice! Nurse called in my prescription to the pharmacy. Everyone was extremely helpful, competent and efficient despite the place being soooo busy but you as a patient have to be on top of things.

I did get a new drug, used since 2015 and approved on an expedited schedule just last year! Because I am postmenopausal with no hormone replacement in the past AND in great health otherwise AND my bone density is nearly normal despite the cancer having eaten half my bones AND cancer markers show exactly the right stuff (deep breath) I am a candidate for this therapy.
The cancer marker stuff is all very technical stuff= I don't understand but pretend I do.
Hopefully on the mend!
Thank you all for your good wishes,
thoughts, prayers, texts, emails and
phone calls. I won't let you down


The upshot is that I'm taking some badass drugs that hopefully will work. The blessing, as I mentioned is no chemo, no radiation, no surgery for now. Also the prognosis is, as my oncologist predicts, "I will be around for a long time." Oh blessings!
Some side effects seem like child's play: hot flashes, some bone pain, night sweats...poor husband will sleep in a sweatshirt again while the fan is blowing over my body. Of course the possibility for some bad side effects but doc says they just haven't seen a huge incidence.
And, and this is BIG for someone who hesitates before taking Ibuprofen for a headache, I will be on this cocktail of hormones for the rest of my life. Although, they come up with new things all the time, so who knows.
Right now I am hopefully on the mend, watching "my labs" like a hawk.


Healthy healthy healthy...
Some people want to go on a cruise,
I want to be able to split wood again!

On another note, I have been very angry at destiny for bestowing upon me this disease; it's all part of the process. But one of the reasons I can take this miracle potion is that my health is great otherwise. No lifestyle diseases have dared invade my body due to pretty good nutrition habits, willful absence of bad habits and, most importantly, exercise.
I have pushed my body to the brink of exhaustion when young and kept up a more reasonable exercise and activity schedule later in life. By golly, my scheme to stay healthy worked! Both docs concurred that my healthy lifestyle contributes to the potential good prognosis.

So, a cautions and hopeful but tiny YAY!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Down and back up! I needed that!

Rollercoaster

One day, totally resigned to my new mortality, I start deciding who will get my "good" printmaking press; the next day I start carving in my studio and give it a hug and tell it I'll be cranking the wheel for a long time. That's how it goes.

this has nothing to do with this post
but this is "the" dog in the rattlesnake story
my beloved faithful mutt Cisco,
who lived a very long and happy life
Oh and that's a sailboat I built once upon a youth

The more I learn, the more I learn. Today a visit with the surgeon confirmed it is Stage IV but also good news about my brain scan and possible therapies.
In a nutshell...She doesn't want to chop me up just yet and told me there's nothing in my brain (I love saying that...hellooooooo...echooooooo...) and that my pesky form of cancer is hormone receptive. I had been waiting on those results which somehow got lost in the digital world and didn't make it to my trusty phone app.
So this means, as far as I understand it, good news. As long as the treatment works, of course, to be discussed with my oncologist this Thursday.


Waiting room "pod"

Ohhhh kaaaaaay! Short update...but while I was waiting I thought maybe I could invent a "waiting room pod." Bear with me. Take one of those double circle windshield sun-shields, add another circle for the back and another for the top. Fold it all up. Walk into the waiting room which invariably has some inane daytime television show going full blast, fluorescent lights overhead, and the general hustle and bustle of a waiting room.
So now I POOF! pop out my "pod" (in its beta testing stage). Like in a tiny tent, I am now surrounded by a (let's say) deep blue barrier of cloth and wire. The big circles sort of lock to each other so I'm covered in the back, sides and top. The top blocks out the annoying fluorescents, the sides block out...er, the sides, and the back just serves to envelop me.
Yeah, kind of like that!
except has to fit on a waiting room chair
and no need for flooring
PERFECT!

From the front of the top, I pull down a tiny curtain to block the light and am able to pull out my Kindle and read calmly. Come to think of it, a pair of ear-plugs could be in a tiny pocket, maybe an ipod pocket?, perhaps some essential oils (eucalyptus, my fav) for my very own aromatherapy pod. I could even add a printed sign on the outside that says: "Maria inside, please tap on shoulder to summons."

I better stop, someone can steal my design! Never mind, I didn't publish this...shhhhhhhh. Hey, you know it would work on airplanes, subways...

Monday, January 8, 2018

Whaaaa?? I flunked another test?!

Wow, and I've always loved pets...

Can I say I was always a magnificent test taker? When I first came to this country from Spain in 1974 I quickly became a great test taker. I was out of those horrid special English classes in a matter of weeks and graduated High School with honors at seventeen. Later at the University I prepared and read every assignment, extra suggested books, whatever I could do to ace every test. I did so well in intermediate tests and assignments I was able to skip final exams. Someone called me an intellectual "monster" once, the biggest pride of my scholastic life.

And pets! Oh how I've always loved pets, even when I couldn't afford it I had a dog, rescued feral cats, saved every critter that crossed my path, comforted those that couldn't be saved...
Well, darnit I don't like tests anymore and I definitely don't like PETs! humph...except all of mine...and other people's...
Mocha and Latte, plucked from our yard
they are old now!

Kona bean, found under a (landscape) rock

Mango, abused, just came to us few years back

Alegria, found in the desert 2015
discarded with broken leg



Results

Apparently you can just "prepare" for a PET scan and "wishing and willing" can't alter the truth that lies inside. Really trying not to self-diagnose until I talk to my oncologist but the truth-sayer PET scan showed that I'm in a bit of trouble. Aside from the ill defined cancerous mass on my breast, I appear to have a bad lymph node right next to it, a really really bad lymph node somewhere deep in my chest and (and I quote) "extensive widespread metastasis" to nearly all my bones including my "calvarium" (aka skull, I learned a new word!).
Good news is all my organs seem to be clean of disease and functioning perfectly and I have zero pain, perhaps a slight discomfort around an area in my ribs that didn't "light up" the PET? Everyone asks me if I have pain and I have to say: "NO! This stupid cancer lizard-dragon-snake is eating me slowly and I have no pain, no rattles, no symptoms other than being tired all the time."
Seems to me if something is going to kill you it should at least cause you pain. Not that I want pain, but it would have been nice about six months ago to get some type of a warning. Perhaps a little dragon-lizard head poking out of my bra? How about some shortness of breath while hiking at 8000 feet? A lump? Can I have a lump? Nah...coward!

After the pesky PET...

Two more tests last Thursday and I eagerly await results from my CT brain scan and a bone-density scan I could care less about.
Still walking every day, riding my indoor bike, taking the dog to the park, eating magnificently, generally in good spirits, reading and learning a ton about this disease. Anxious now, just anxious all the time to begin some treatment. I can't fight this thing on my own, for the first time in my life, I realize I can't self-heal. I'm pissed today.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

PETs and CATs and MRIs...oh my!

The Big One

PET scans are serious stuff, they are used to determine spread and location of tumors and other cancerous things. I picture my cancer as a cross between a lizard and one of those tiny dragon-things from Jurassic Park. I don't know how it got in there, but this "thing" is clinging on to my ribs for dear life and apparently left some unsightly egg-nests in my breast. All withOUT my permission. I'm drawing a cartoon of this thing sometime.

So to find where this repulsive dragon-lizard is really hiding and how big it is, I happily submitted myself to the test of all tests, the PET scan.
The doom-tube PET scan expensive thinguie

PET stands for something, I'm sure, but in essence it entails some nice techs injecting a perfectly sane "patient" (I now know why they call us patients) with serious nuclear stuff, and subsequently having them imbibe some repulsive stuff. When all that has thoroughly circulated through the hapless body, the "patient" is subjected to a slooooow scan inside a claustrophobic tube. I wish I could watch but I'm inside the tube.
Seriously, I thoroughly research these tests, mostly at the Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/ website with occasional forages into other medical websites.


PET scan demystified

If anyone is getting one of these rather pricey things done, I will try to explain minute by minute how it feels. Brace yourself...

Arrival at the Big Bad Diagnostics Mega Building at 7:40, exactly twenty minutes too early for my check-in which precedes my test by thirty minutes. I'm in for a long wait. You know how it goes by now, sign-in, wait, check-in, wait in a different room, admitted in, fork out bucks, wait, wait. Finally...Mariaaaaaa!

I trot along the nice tech who leads me along a labyrinth of hallways, would be kind of fun if I got a prize for turning the right way at each corner...WAIT, what's this room? I am in the interrogation room, a chair covered in a sheet in the middle of this huge room with nothing else in it. A tray by the chair has needles (truth serum?) and bandages (to cover up the torture scars?). A glass window with an observation room where a truth-seeking computer sits...I am very suspicious.

At precisely 8:30 I am made to sit on the torture chair--let me say I peeked under the sheet to make sure there were no gripping devices that would lock on my arms and legs upon my butt triggering an automatic switch. Nope, nothing but cheap leather underneath, whew!
"It reclines" I am told.
The lights are dim, there is enough space in the room for at least 20 interrogators plus the evil doctor that monitors my terror level.
The (other) nice tech explains the test to me, we nuke your veins, you gobble up goop, 45 minutes of "relaxation," empty bladder, 20 minutes of tube, turn over, more tube...
FREEEEEEDOOOOOOOOM! I want to scream like Braveheart on the torture slab.
I didn't do it! I swear I was never even IN Russia! 'Twasn't meeeee....aaaahhhhh...long live the Queeeeen!!!....

But the other Maria has been listening carefully and I merely and politely assent when she asks if I have any questions.
"Blanket?"
"Sure," I say not knowing the so-called blanket falls somewhere between gauze and a bedsheet that wouldn't keep a polar bear warm in Costa Rica.
"A little poke..." she says injecting nuclear stuff into my body.
I've been nuked...I'm radioactive, I'm sure...I wonder if when the test is over I could go to the airport and see if I set off some alarms!? While I'm in the airport running away from the radioactivity detecting German Shepherd, she interrupts me again...
"What flavor Barium would you like? We have vanilla and mocha."
"Oooh, mocha please, it will feel like a cup of coffee from Starbucks," I say.

Barium is a disgusting thicker-than-milk, feels-like-liquid-chalk type of goop they make you drink so you will tell the truth about Russia...or else it enhances "contrast" when you are zapped by the death-rays in the doom-tube. In other words, totally painless and tasteless. I drink the evil serum. Mocha?...sheeshhh...

Then I recline and sit in the chair for the apportioned 45 minutes with my jacket on my face so I am not blinded by the 24 spotlights (I counted them, what else was I going to do). After about 30 minutes some nice tech thinks of dimming the lights. Did I say the room is huge? I keep wanting to look over my shoulder to see the advancing evil doctor.
Meantime, I'm hiking in the mountains, walking on the beach, sittin' at the edge of the Grand Canyon and just when I'm about to crest Everest for the first time...

9:20
"Ready?"
I politely throw off blankie and jacket and follow. More hallways... I could find my way in any forest, jungle or desert on a cloudy night but buildings! they disorient me immediately upon crossing the doorway. Not being able to make a run for it (just yet), I am obliged to follow my (other) tech...to a waiting room, of course!

Not long after, I enter the "tube" room. There it sits, waiting to eat my body with its big gaping mouth. I am given instructions again, sit still, arms by the sides, head on the pillow, knees up, over here...comfy?
Sure.
"I'll play some music for you"
Nice. Tech proceeds to play some inane music I'm sure HE likes a lot.
I got to pick nature sounds for my CT scan last week! I yell in my head.

I assure myself again I am NOT claustrophobic but just in case I shut my eyes tight and have the tremendous discipline of not opening them again until I perceive the lights of the room.
Head first I go into the doom-tube. I picture it scanning my body, detecting sugar metabolism, making pictures of my bones, organs...must be fun to be a doom-tube.
Twenty minutes seems like a long time but not when your mind wonders halfway around the world so easily. I picture myself face to face with the dragon-lizard...
"Ah ha! I see you now you little muncher, you're ugly as they come!"
"munch munch..." it replies eating another one of my ribs...without BBQ sauce
"You are history! hear me?" I threaten, "I command you off me, OFFFFF!"
Then I picture a waterfall...I am standing under this huge cascade of clear blue water and I feel it enter the pores of my head and cleanse my every cell...

"Turn around," he says rudely interrupting my cleansing. "Head over here...are you doing alright?"
Well I WAS...
"Doing great," says the polite Maria.

Another "few" minutes, feet first, no day-dreaming this time, just a short wait feeling the lights change through my closed eyelids as they move me in and out of the machine. Comfy.

10:35
And then it's over, just like that.
"You can go now," she says. And then she opens the door and tells me to go right...and THERE is the lobby!? The precious way to freedom was THERE the entire time and I didn't even make a go at it...
Mental note: I have to learn to orient myself in buildings

And now, another wait, this time for results to be posted...in my cozy and happy home.
Two more tests later this week, I get to learn my bone density and my awaited brain CT scan "just to see if there's anything in there" Laughing out loud...I wonder too sometimes!

(that is not me)
For educational purposes
CT scan, PET scan, both combined
from the Mayo Clinic website


Monday, January 1, 2018

It is 2018! Happy New Year everyone

Step by step, day by day


I say that every morning now, "step by step, day by day," waking up with a new sense of purpose. Changing my life to accommodate new developments on a daily basis, tweaking this and that. This week I'm going back to the studio to finish my first new year print. I am first and foremost, an artist.

Tomorrow the coveted PET scan, the truth-sayer, the ultimate reality. I love the truth and despise sugar-coating and carefully crafted speeches. Raw truth. I want it. Eventually all the idealism and dreaming and wishing and praying comes to a halt when faced with the truth. In everything. Love the truth.


You

I have been totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, in social media and real life from an amazing number of my family and friends. Overwhelmed and humbled. I have in mind a new artwork entitled:
"I thought I was alone.
I fell so hard,
then I looked up,
and saw all of you"
Well okay, kind of long for a title but sometimes I use tiny poems as titles.
So thank you family, friends, whether we have met or not, talked or not in "real life," your messages of support, encouragement are all being engraved in my fighting brain. And those of you who continue to share your own fights and your own victories and those of people close to you...you have no idea how much that feeds the lioness in me.

Thank you, I feel your love and thoughts and prayers from across the lands and oceans. Thank you.
2018...I am so ready for battle!

So what's up with the rattlesnake?

Monday November 27 2017 Rattlesnake story There I was...surrounded by ferocious diamondback rattlesnakes hissing and rattling and slith...