Rebuilding a Mazda 3: Part One

Hm, let’s start with my title.

My little stop-me-I’m-speeding-red daily driver Mazda 3 wasn’t hit (since last June, but that damage was fixed by the other guy’s insurance company) and didn’t strand me on the road (today anyway – last time it did was early December of 2012, when I was still in radiation therapy), but needed quite a bit of work:

– air conditioning compressor (that’s what crapped out on me and stranded me on the side of the road last December, thereby creating a 5-hour detour for me between my house and radiation therapy – never mind the fact that I was supposed to work that day.  Yep, never did make it to work that day)
– motor mount(s) (knew one was broken, decided to change all three since this is a known weakness on this car – turns out when they were all replaced that all 3 of the existing ones were busted – facepalm!) – Oh, and the new ones are black and red and grey and on my, so sexy!  I know, I’m weird, but I’ve found a few people who appreciate my weirdness, so it’s ok)
– shocks (one was leaking – I have 150,000 miles on the car, so that’s not the biggest surprise in the world)

Since some serious work was being done: all four tires coming off to do the shocks, the air conditioning compressor is on the passenger Bottom side (not a typo) of the engine and the motor mounts are two on top, one on the bottom of the engine, and because I can’t emotionally deal with flipping a car right now, not to mention the financials don’t support it (so we’re hedging against another 5 years with my little baby), the “while we” list got kinda long:

– struts, shock boots (to go with the new shocks)
– brake pads (we new at least one end needed to be done – let’s do ’em both)
– brake rotors (turns out this was a good decision, as Hubby said he didn’t think my old ones had another turn in them)
– rear adjustable camber arms (another Mazda 3 weakness – for some odd reason the OEM camber arms set such an angle that this car eats tires faster than it should – aftermarket adjustable units should let us adjust the rear suspension to stop doing that)
– radiator and new coolant
– transmission filter and new tranny fluid
– thermostat
– cooling system flush
– spark plugs
– oil filter and new oil
– air filter
– all light bulbs, both fore and aft
– water pump (this has failed at some point in every car Hubby or I have ever owned and I was starting to hear that tell-tale squeak which often presages a water pump failure)

I’m sure I’m forgetting something which, when I remember it, I’ll let you know about in a new post!

The photos below are what my baby looked like this past Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm.  This morning when I went to work (leaving Hubby at home to continue working on it after calling in “I have no idea what” to work), it looked pretty much the same, but had lots more new parts on it than when these photos were taken.

Last night when the work was over and it was dinner time, Hubby said most of the “big-tool” jobs were done.  You know, the ones where power tools are used and/or something needs to be bashed on (which feel a bit risky with nothing but 4 little jacks holding up my baby – but those jacks ROCK!  Seriously, they’re Extremely Stable and took all the bashing Hubby had to do with brake work and shock work and all.  I’m just more comfortable being there overseeing the jobs that could get Hubby or the car hurt).  The only other “big-tool” job is reconnecting a belt after installation of the air conditioning compressor.  Everything else is what he calls detail work – tedious, but no big forces required.

He said if he worked on it another day, he thought it would be “drivable.”  Well, not so I can drive it to work since some of my lights won’t be here ’til Wednesday and we’re not putting the whole front end back together just to take part of it off again to replace light bulbs – but drivable enough so he could wander out to test drive the suspension and engine component repairs for safety and bedding in.

So I have no idea what it’ll look like when I come home tonight, but this was from Saturday afternoon (and still substantially looked the same this morning):

2013-04-06 16.03.12

2013-04-06 16.04.21

2013-04-06 16.04.16

2013-04-06 16.03.57

2013-04-06 16.03.22

2013-04-06 16.03.31

2013-04-06 16.03.44

2013-04-06 16.03.54

*****

(Near – Hopefully)-Future Radiation Therapy

New Form of Radiation Therapy Has No Side Effects

This Must Be The Worse Before The Better

thumbs-down

December 11, 2012: Breast Cancer Support Group Holiday Potluck Party – otherwise known as the once-a-year gathering where those who no longer need the group on an ongoing basis bring something to eat and join the rest of us for a quick munch & gab & catch-up.

This event lands in my last week of Radiation Therapy.  To say I’m struggling is an understatement of epic proportions.

When I’m asked how I’m doing, I can barely (and sometimes not quite) keep from losing it, both with people I know from group, and those I don’t who are coming for their once-a-year appearance.

Maria is one of those people I meet who doesn’t come regularly, but comes to the party, and to whom I confess how hard things are for me just then.  It’s been years since she was in active treatment, yet she remembers seemingly like it was yesterday – I think we all do/will.

She tells me when radiation ends it gets worse, then it gets better.

I was told that the radiation is still active in my body for about 2 weeks after the last treatment.  I assumed when Maria said there’s a further dip and then things start to look up (I’m paraphrasing), that the worse would be about two weeks long and then end.

My last treatment was Friday, December 14th – 12 days ago.  I don’t feel like better is going to show up in two days.  I think I made an assumption and just realized it’s probably not a valid one.

Last weekend, Hubby had to work all weekend moving his company.  My office was closed Monday/Tuesday, as was his (providing the moving was completed enough).  When he told me he was working Saturday and Sunday (and that they would be long days), I was thrilled.

I don’t get really any meaningful time alone in my house these (general) days – with the way our schedules interact.  Being an only child (and Hubby a first-born), we both need alone time – maybe more than folks with more siblings.

Now that the absolutely overwhelming schedule of Radiation Therapy has backed off quite a bit, lots of things are flooding in, the chatter seems to have intensified:

Work: revise this, draft this, file this, fax this, answer this phone, schedule this meeting, cover for this person on vacation, etc.

Personal: check in with Mom, check in with Dad, listen to Hubby, (and with Christmas yesterday: buy this, wrap this, send this – do it all On Time), etc.

Household: dishes, laundry, pay this, stop for this, buy this online, descale the coffeemaker, clean out the fridge, manage the grocery list, etc.

And of course, everybody’s happy right now – taking vacations, giving and getting just the right gifts, opening their hearts to family and friends – and looking forward to the “fresh start” the New Year provides.

I’m not happy right now and the new year is Not a fresh start for me (as I’m only mid-way through my active treatment)  – I’m still fucking tired, on So Many Levels – physically, emotionally, FYI in case you were wondering my last pain-free day was August 12, 2012 – the day before my first surgery.  So I either feel guilty about not sharing everyone else’s joy for/with them, or am further exhausted by faking it for/with them.

I was thrilled with Hubby having to work because right now I just want to be alone.  I feel like the last six months have been a blur of overwhelming input and I just need quiet.  To get that quiet, I need to be alone and let the rest of the world’s demands go away.  I had two days of that.  I need more.

I imagine this crawling into a hole period will have some people upset – I’m going to have to try to not care.  I need to walk my talk of being selfish.

I need that quiet to process – to transform another part of the journey toward “after the first year.”

I imagine some people in my life are going to notice this difference and not like it.  Because what they think about what I’m doing is not actually about me, I’m going to have to try to not care.

I don’t know what that means for this blog in the near future, I actually don’t know what that means for a lot of aspects of my life in any (insert short-, mid-, long-term word here) future.

I guess I’ll be sitting with quiet as much as I can create it while waiting for…

thumbs_up_bciy

To Schedule or Not To Schedule, That is the Question

I’m not sure I still feel the need to document my schedule as specifically as I have been lately.

Clock

It felt important to me to share with those who (it’s been said to me numerous times) “had no idea” of the degree of chaos and intrusion into one’s normal life that cancer and its treatments cause.  The craziness that ensues from trying to work full-time through radiation (I didn’t quite make it, but didn’t realize until I was almost done with radiation how many people don’t even attempt it!) is really of the batshit-insane variety, and not only did I post for some sympathy (yeah, at some point – well lots of points – this Is actually about me!), but Also to let other people know when I say I don’t have time and energy to see them/do whatever . . .

. . . that there are some times in life when what gets accomplished gets whittled down to the serious bare necessities, and going through radiation therapy while working Is One of Those Times!

In fact, if it weren’t for Hubby, I may well have had to ask for help keeping food in my house.

Fairly quickly, my life became about 3 things and 3 things only:

three-fingers

– Cancer Stuff:

Radiation Therapy
Radiation Oncologist Appointments
Physical Therapy
Acupuncture
Support Group

– Work

As much as I still could, as I went through the 7 weeks

– Sleep/Rest

That was it.

Now that I’m through those 7 weeks, it will take me some time to transition out of that mindset . . .

And I already feel some better (though I don’t yet trust that feeling), not having those 5 additional deadlines in my schedule every week – and knowing the physical symptoms will take weeks to months to fully resolve (both skin issues and energy levels).

This morning was, well, just weird:

– being allowed to apply antiperspirant (at all) and body lotion (right after my shower)

– not having to leave the house until 8:00am

– not having to wear something I could pull down (if a dress) or a shirt I could take off, in other words Not having to wear something in which I could easily expose the girls without having to gown up (sorry, I’m just not a gown girl, for various reasons – this may or may not become a separate post).

You see, it seems to be part of conventional wisdom that it takes six weeks to make or break a habit.  Doesn’t sound right to you?  Okay, this is me Googling it.

My point is that the 7 weeks of my radiation therapy is just enough time for things like not applying antiperspirant, or not applying anything to my underarms and no lotion on my body directly after showering – to stop feeling weird and wrong, and something I have to think about (not doing).  And now I have to work at recreating those habits – recreating those parts of my normal life.  But that still won’t take up the time (and hopefully the energy either) that the radiation therapy took.

So, we’ll see whether I feel like continuing the schedule thing as I have been.  If I don’t, maybe I’ll have time to write some other blog posts, parts of which have been sitting hidden online as drafts for a while.

<shrug>

Schedule: Week of December 10-14, 2012

Monday [Radiation Therapy – Day 29]:

7:00am-8:15am Drive from Home to RTher
8:15am-9:15am RTher, Appt with ROnc
9:15am-9:30am Drive from RTher to Work
9:30am-1:40pm Work
1:40pm-2:10pm Lunch

[Over the weekend, while Hubby and I were bringing some more things back in from the trailer to the garage, one of the things I discovered half-finished was this poncho:

peppermint poncho

The pattern calls for several lengths of circular needles, the longest of which is 40″, the needles it is currently on.  I recall, after knitting another half-round of it why I put it down before.  The stitches were so crowded on the needle (and I hadn’t done all the increases yet), that it took actual effort to move the stitches around as I knitted.  I decided to see if longer needles were made and thank the goddess, they make a 60″ set.  Now I just had to find some.

Headed over to Joann’s (while it’s still there and all) on the off-chance they had a pair.  They didn’t.  But it was something to do (and a tiny bit of walking) on my shortie lunch to make up the half hour I was late this morning.

I guess it’s Amazon (not Prime, unfortunately) to the rescue.]

2:10pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-?? Drive from Work to Home

Tuesday [Radiation Therapy – Day 30]:

7:10am-12:30pm Drive from Home to RTher

[Hm, that seems a little out of the norm.  Is there a problem here?  Well, yes, yes there is, thanks so much for asking.

You see, because I so needed this today (after last week’s Wednesday – $1000 on new tires for the truck, the $600 repair estimate on our originally-$3,000-receiver that is Hubby and my holiday gift to us this year), just as I was exiting my first of two truck lanes my nav app takes me down on the way from home to RTher, I heard a rhythmic noise and smelled something burning, then immediately saw smoke coming from under the hood of my car.

Thankfully I was in the right-hand lane and pulled right on over, stopped the car, and (I know it’s not safe, but) got out just in case whatever was burning became the whole car – I was on the shoulder of the road (not in traffic lanes) and figured if my car was gonna be a car-be-que, I wasn’t gonna be in it.

Smoke stops pouring and I get back in.  Call AAA (which, of course means next March when my year’s up I cannot upgrade to Premier status because I’ve not gone a year without using it – don’t even get me started, that’s like 3 other Oprahs).

Spend the rest of the morning sitting in the dealership waiting room thinking “How bad?  How much?”   Turns out it was the A/C compressor seizing up – the rhythmic noise/burning was the belt attached to same.  Plus a busted motor mount.  Plus a blown shock.  All together, that’s only a measly $2k of repairs.  Sure, let me go home and shake out my couch.

It is now 12noon and I should have been at treatment at 8:00am this morning. I’ve been sitting here wondering if I’d even be able to make it today so I could finish on time on Friday (I wasn’t leaving until I knew what the hell my car was doing), and would I have to call someone to come take me to treatment or could I drive myself in my own car?

The (temporarily) good news is that although I wouldn’t have A/C, if we cut the A/C belt, the car was safe to drive (yes, even with the other 2 things wrong) and it would only cost 1 (discounted) hour of labor ($90).  So, that’s what I did (after a short teleconference with Hubby), and we’ll get the other stuff fixed as soon as we can.

12:30pm-12:40pm Look for someone to do my RTher

[Because, of course, at this time of day, most of the place – including almost all of the RThers – are at lunch.]

12:40pm-12:50pm RTher and Boob-gooping
12:55pm-1:40pm Lunch at Bob’s Big Boy

bobs_big_boy

[That’s a location hint, BTW.]

1:40pm Take Zofran for Nausea from Anxiety
1:40pm-2:30pm Drive from Lunch to Home

[With 1 stop at Vons for A) secret santa gift card for service advisor who was so kind to me today, and B) some food thing to bring to the Pot Luck Support Group Holiday Party tonight.]

2:30pm-5:00pm Rest

[It would have been napping, but, well, I couldn’t seem to fall asleep – surprise, surprise.]

5:00pm-6:00pm Drive from Home to Support Group Holiday Party
6:00pm-8:30pm Support Group Holiday Party
8:30pm-9:15pm Drive from Support Group Holiday Party to Home

Wednesday [Radiation Therapy – Day 31]:

7:10am-8:05am Drive from Home to RTher
8:10am-8:20am RTher
8:20am-8:30am Post-RTher Ablutions
8:30am-9:00am Drive from RTher to Work
9:00am-1:05pm Work
1:05pm-2:05pm Lunch

[I’m still looking for Ball freezer containers to make sure my homemade applesauce and cranberry sauce gets frozen for eating throughout the year – from now (for the applesauce) and the beginning of the year (for the cranberries) until the various raw ingredients are again fresh and available next year.

Of course, if I had just ordered them from Amazon when I first located them there, they’d be here and my freezer’d be bursting with saucy goodness (multiple entendres expressly permitted).  Yeah, well…

Thought I was headed to a big Ralphs (that I thought would have what I wanted), but it turned out to be a Vons, and they had what I wanted!  Yeah, plus I got a little of this and a little of that.

And, I still had a fair portion of my lunch hour left – was also still looking for that long knitting needle(s) (nope, those hadn’t been ordered from Amazon either).  Did a quickie Yelp search for knitting stores & found one within a couple miles that I hadn’t known was there.  Headed on up and “I carry 60″ needles because I use them.”  SCORE!

Made it back to work on time too.  :-)]

2:05pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-6:30pm Drive from Work to Home

[See “Hubby Really Knows and Loves His Woman”]

Thursday [Radiation Therapy – Day 32]:

7:15am-8:05am Drive from Home to RTher
8:05am-8:15am RTher
8:15am-8:20am Post-RTher Ablutions
8:20am-8:30am Chat with “Georgia” at the front desk of the facility
8:30am-8:40am Visit with Lorri, another new friend from radiation
8:40am-9:00am Drive from RTher to Work

[With 1 stop to put gas in the car]

9:00am-1:00pm Work
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch

[Ate my lunch at my desk today ‘cuz I’m too damn tired to get up and do anything, so I just played with my blog some – yep, right out in public, in front of God and everyone.  I’m just trying to survive until tomorrow afternoon after my company holiday lunch and an early release to home.]

2:00pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-6:30pm Drive from Work to Home

Friday [Radiation Therapy – Day 33 – LAST!]:

7:00am-8:10am Drive from Home to RTher

[With a quick stop at Starbucks for my regular Friday “treat” – wouldn’t have been late if I hadn’t stopped for this, but I’m no longer able to stress every morning about being there perfectly on time.  They take whoever’s there in order of appointment time, and they slot me in when I do arrive – this is Exactly why I took the 8am spot rather than cutting things razor-thin timewise by taking the 8:30 spot.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any Starbucks iTunes Freebies this morning so my work folks are outta luck on that this week.  Again, I can’t stress about that.

Uh-oh, I think that just became Rule #4: I Can’t Stress About That.]

8:15am-8:25am RTher
8:25am-8:30am Post-RTher Ablutions
8:30am-8:45am Visit with “Georgia”
8:45am-9:00am Drive from RTher to Work
9:00am-1:00pm Work
1:00pm-3:30pm Firm Holiday Lunch

[Wasn’t it nice of them to have a party to celebrate my Graduation from Radiation Therapy?  Okay, so it was scheduled without consulting me, and always happens two Fridays before Christmas.

And – they decided to pay me a week’s salary just for having survived it too!  (Or, our contractual bonus is always distributed on the 2nd to last payday of the year).

Coincidence?  You may well think so, but please remember (nobody at all, of any flavor, kind, or species was harmed in the bending/warping of this reality) – this is My World to Create – Mwahahahaha!]

3:30pm-4:15pm Drive from Lunch to Home

Additional Tasks Accomplished This Week:

– blogged
– managed to buy & package $10 gift for wrapped gift exchange at company holiday lunch
– packaged and gave to work colleague a holiday gift for her granddaughter

[Nobody but Hubby and maybe Mom & Dad are getting holiday gifts this year – I’ve been just a touch busy lately, hm? – but my new baby cousin is getting something, so I just got the same thing for my work colleague’s granddaughter: Velveteen Rabbit Book & Stuffed Animal.]

– semi-secret-santa’d someone who was kind to me this week with a $100 Visa gift card (by mail)

[I have something he doesn’t have this month – and his family and mine share a life experience, so I felt moved to help.  Nope, not sharing anything else – it’s his business, not mine to share.]

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Schedule: Week of December 3-7, 2012

Monday [Radiation Therapy – Day 24]:

7:00am-8:45am Drive from Home to RTher

storm track

[Yes, it took me one hour and 45 minutes to get to RTher this morning.  Yes, the streets were wet.  Three accidents happened along my route After I left my house.  No, this is not reasonable.  Yes, this is the worst traffic has been in this recent series of 3 storms coming through Southern Cali.

And no, that image above isn’t from this past weekend’s storms, but it is of a storm track in the right part of the country, so I’m using it.  You must know by now how much I like my graphics and reference treasure hunts, no?]

8:45am-10:15am RTher, Appt with ROnc

[Yes, those two things took me an hour and a half today, but since I was late I did not feel like I could hurry anybody else up – I may sometimes be a bitch, but I try not to be unreasonable (they are Not the same thing).  I had PTher scheduled for 9:00am-10:00am this morning, but when I figured out I wouldn’t be getting to my first appt of the morning Anywhere near on time, I called and cancelled my PTher, asking them to change it to Wednesday.  Thankfully, they were willing and able to move another patient (thank you for your flexibility, whoever you are) and get me in on Wed at 9:00am.  I haven’t seen my PTher in two weeks now, and if I couldn’t see her this week, my next appt  with her is Wednesday December 19th – two weeks from now – which would have been four weeks between visits with her.  Now, I would have figured something out, or made alternate plans for treatment somehow, but since I am having swelling issues, it’s nice that I Don’t Have to figure my way around that.  :)]

10:15am-10:30am Drive to Work

[With 1 stop to put gas in the car]

10:30am-1:30pm Work
1:30pm-2:15pm Lunch

[I’m back to shorties to make up that 1-1/2 hrs work time I’m down on “first thing” Monday morning.

joanns-fabric

Headed over to my nearest Joann’s (found out this store is closing January 24, 2013 – I’m not so happy about this – it was, well still is, but not for very much longer, a close stop for lunch-time craft supplies shopping) to pick up some materials for decorating my teeny tiny punkins (two of them, ‘cuz one got taken home with the intention of being decorated and never made it back to my ledge at work, but magically another one showed up there to take its place!) to help them transition from Halloween, when they first appeared, to the end-of-the-year Holidays.  I may publish a separate post about that with pics and I’ll update this one with the title if I do that.  Or maybe not.]

2:15pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-5:45pm Drive from Work to Acupuncture
5:55pm-7:00pm Acupuncture

[This is my last visit with Mo, who I really like!  😦  She has finished her internship now and is headed on to study for her licensing exam at the end of February.  It takes a month or so for results to come back and then a couple weeks for licenses to arrive, so the earliest I could have her again would be sometime next April.  She did say she likes her supervising doctor at our facility and might explore working with him when she gets her license so she may be back where it’s very convenient to me.  She has my email and says she’ll keep me updated on that plan, and I have her email so I can bug her about it if she doesn’t!  And I’m sure whoever else I get for my last Acupuncture treatment of the year in two weeks will be good too.]

7:00pm-8:05pm Drive from Acupuncture to Home

[With 2 stops: 1 at the pharmacy to drop off my new Rx for pain meds (babe-seems-to-think-I-am-an-addict – otherwise known as my ROnc – actually refilled my pain meds today.  Maybe she realized I’m still taking the same amount as I have been the last two weeks to manage my pain and not more, and maybe this was part of her conversation with my RSurg last week.  In any case, she gave me twice as much this time as last time, so I don’t have to have this conversation again with her next week or the week after.  Thank the Goddess for small favors.) and 1 stop to pick up dinner for me & Hubby (no officer, that wasn’t me texting while driving – thank you Siri): two patty melts and an order of fries to share from Everest!]

Tuesday [Radiation Therapy – Day 25]:

7:10am-8:05am Drive from Home to RTher
8:10am-8:25am RTher, Post-RTher ablutions (otherwise known in my world as boob-gooping)
8:25am-8:35am Drive from RTher to Work
8:35am-1:30pm Work
1:30pm-2:00pm Lunch

200px-Whole_Foods_Market_logo.svg

[One of the things that has (temporarily) gone by the wayside is bringing breffast & lunch to work with me – are you reading this post, have you seen my life lately? – but the clothes are getting a tad snug (‘course that could be the monthly tide business – things crested this past Sunday) and it’s just good practice to eat clean, so headed off to Whole Foods for a salad bar lunch, with some organic (WA state, but you can’t have everything; where would you put it?) Ambrosia apples (didn’t get any in Oak Glen this year, so picked up a couple), and organic Bartlett pears (just because they were there and I could), plus 4 more bags of cranberries for more cranberry sauce before I can’t find them anymore.]

2:00pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-6:45pm Drive from Work to Home

[With 1 stop to pick up pain meds]

Wednesday [Radiation Therapy – Day 26]:

7:00am-8:15am Drive from Home to RTher
8:15am-8:30am RTher
8:30am-9:00am Killing time between RTher and PTher

[Walked down to the end of the block to the Local 80 of a major entertainment union – there’s a locational bread crumb if it makes any sense to you – to get myself a coffee since traffic this morning wouldn’t nearly let me stop on the way in to get one, and discovered that a one long block walk decided to make my legs tired.  Not liking that at all!  Struggling between trying to get some exercise to limit how much this all takes out of me before it’s over, and saving what energy I do have to do what needs doing.]

9:00am-10:00am PTher
10:00am-10:45am Drive from PTher to Egg Plantation

egg plantation

[Because, goddamn it, I was finally going to have my pancakes!  Of course there was plenty of protein first.  The eggs I had were so fresh and the yolks such a beautiful rich orangey color I had to ask my server where the place got their eggs from.  They looked so much like the eggs I get two canyons over from my house, I just knew they had to be some local, non-industrial place and sure enough the restaurant gets their eggs from a cage-free farm about 8 miles away (a different place than I get them, but same situation).

Seriously, there is Nothing on this earth like eating an egg you know was still in the hen no more than 2 days ago.  Just for contrast and information – most of the eggs we all find in our supermarkets are already at least 3 weeks old before we lift that carton out of the cooler – yes, it makes a big different in appearance and taste.]

10:45am-11:30am Brunch
11:30am-12:30pm Drive from Brunch to Home

[With 1 stop at Food for Less to pick up the apples for that 2nd tub of applesauce.  Ya know, at 10 lbs of apples per tub of applesauce, things aren’t cheap here, so I figured 98c per lb of apples was doable.  And I think the non-Oak-Glen applesauce will be the one going to work – let’s see if anybody notices.]

Afternoon:
– nap
– took call from RSurg

[Really needed to talk to her before agreeing to radiation boost.  Emailed her physician’s assistant last Monday asking for a call last week about this.  Didn’t get one.  Called PA again while at brunch this morning saying “um, running out of time here.”  Got a call from RSurg this afternoon.

Doctor’s really don’t get it with patients, or maybe I’m just that different from most other people.  RSurg told me that yes, this radiation therapy Could create a situation where I may not be able to have implants later if I decide I want them.  She told me something I did not want to hear, but she gave me an unequivocal straight answer when I asked her a direct question, trusting that I can understand it and handle it.

Then she told me what else we Can do about my appearance (using other methods) to get me to, or at least closer to what I (may) want to look like when this is all said and done, or later on in the future (since a history of breast cancer is sort of a get-insurance-to-pay-for-boob-surgery-forever card).

I wish more doctors would understand the “if you want me to listen to you, then you have to really listen to me first, and answer my damn questions” thing.

My RSurg actually made me a little more scared than I was before our talk about the damage this treatment that I need can do to my body, and at the same time reinforced my belief that she’ll be there to work with me to get me over/through/past it, and still be the me I want to be when I do.]

– called ROnc to tell her I would be doing the boost radiation next week
– called Mom to tell her RSurg had finally called me back (PA had passed on my request for a call to RSurg, but had not followed up to make sure the call had been made, and took responsibility for the delay in the call happening – she’s pretty damn awesome actually, so they get a pass on this one)
– waited downstairs for Hubby to get home from work

[Turns out Hubby had this kinda crazy idea – that we go out to dinner.  You see, he got home around 4:30ish (yeah, I know, blue-hair territory, but remember, I’m going to bed at blue-hair time these days, so what the hell, huh?) and figured though we sometimes go out on weekends, it’s usually brunch (okay, if you haven’t figured out I’ve got a serious thing about breakfast food, please stop reading here and don’t come back, you’re too stupid to be here, thank you) and maybe today it could be dinner for a change.

So we could sit for a few minutes for him to shift his thoughts from work to evening, and we could go out, have a mellow sit-down dinner (not necessarily fancy or expensive, just someplace we get dinner on a plate instead of in a paper bag), and be home by like 7pm, plenty of time for me to call the parents, do evening boob-gooping, take my evening pharma-cocktail and still make my blue-hair bedtime…cool!

We ended up at this place we’d never been to in 8 years of living in this valley: Margaritas.  Damn, why’d we wait so long to try this place?!  Just the highlights – very nice Tequila selection for a restaurant in a strip-mall (but that happens a lot in my valley – strip malls and restaurants therein) – custom-made margaritas by bartender/owner (we figured out the bartender had to be the owner about halfway through dinner) – wonderful delicate flavors in Every dish (nothing heavy or overpowering) – someone in the kitchen Really Loves shrimp (they were, and I don’t use this term lightly, seasoned and grilled to perfection).  Plus, I think we were the only people in the place who didn’t know everybody else in the place, but that will change.  We’ll be back, so eventually we’ll know everybody else too.]

– talked to “Dana” (my friend from radiation) on the phone for over an hour!

[It was Really nice to get more than a few minutes with her.  We could share a bit about our particular situations, which we hadn’t actually done at the treatment center – that’s kinda not something you really get into in the few minutes of gooping, or the “you’re finished for the day and now it’s my turn to lay down on the table” passing in the hallway that happens.

I was sad to hear her details (not going to share what they are, they’re not mine to share) – they scare me more than my own details.  All I can do is love her (yes, we just met, we’ve had essentially a couple of hours of actual time together and I love this woman – sometimes in life you meet someone you just click with automagically and instantly – she is one of those people for me and I think she feels the same about me) and keep her company on her journey as she will walk with me on mine, wherever those journeys go.]

– 11:00pm bedtime (I know, not precisely blue-hair territory)

[When we got home from dinner, I had that pleasant slight-food-coma thing going, figuring I’d slide right into a decent bedtime.  But after talking to “Dana,” I was wired.  From excitement about sharing with someone who Really Gets It, worry about her details?  Not sure why, but it took 2 Benadryls tonight (usually only takes 1) to get me to dreamland – that’s gonna make for a rough morning.]

Thursday (Radiation Therapy – Day 27):

7:15am-8:30am Drive from Home to RTher
8:30am-8:50am Wait for RTher

[Yeah, when I’m late, I lose my right to bitch at them about the time, so I was a good girl.]

8:50am-9:00am RTher
9:00am-9:15am Drive from RTher to Work
9:15am-1:30pm Work
1:30pm-2:00pm Lunch

[This shorty catches me up on work time this week (not including my Wed off) so I can have an hour lunch tomorrow, what Will I Do with all that time?]

2:00pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-6:30pm Drive from Work to Home

Friday (Radiation Therapy – Day 28):

7:00am-8:10am Drive from Home to RTher

[With a quick stop at Starbucks for my regular Friday “treat” – wouldn’t have been late if I hadn’t stopped for this, but I’m no longer able to stress every morning about being there perfectly on time.  They take whoever’s there in order of appointment time, and they slot me in when I do arrive – this is Exactly why I took the 8am spot rather than cutting things razor-thin timewise by taking the 8:30 spot.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any Starbucks iTunes Freebies this morning so my work folks are outta luck on that this week.  Again, I can’t stress about that.

Uh-oh, I think that just became Rule #4: I Can’t Stress About That.]

8:15am-8:25am RTher
8:25am-8:30am Post-RTher Ablutions
8:30am-8:45am Visit with “Georgia”
8:45am-9:00am Drive from RTher to Work
9:00am-1:00pm Work
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm-5:30pm Work
5:30pm-6:30pm Drive from Work to Home

Additional Tasks Accomplished This Week:

– blogged
– put gas in the car
– laid in partial supplies for more cranberry sauce (still need fresh oranges, more nutmeg and I may be low on maple sugar)
– bought more apples for a second batch of applesauce – seriously, my work colleagues can go through near an entire tub with latkes, leaving not nearly enough to be used in other recipes, eaten over yogurt and cottage cheese, etc. – so another tub is in order
– uh, yep, looks like I’ll be cooking again this weekend, hm?

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Radiation Therapy Journal – Day 28 – Friday December 7, 2012

Treatment Notes:

– Today is my last day of “regular” radiation therapy, and next Monday begins my “boost” radiation therapy.  Up until now the radiation has been spread over my whole boob, which actual tissue is farther and wider than one might think (the delineated soon-to-be radiation “no fly zone” stretches – measured laying on my back with both arms bent back up over my head – from the center of my sternum all the way around to the center of the left side of my body, and from a point along the outside edge of my boob level with the top of my sternum down to an inch and a half under my inframammary fold.).  Starting Monday, the 1.8 Gy fractionation per treatment spread across the whole boob becomes a 2.0 Gy fractionation per treatment concentrated in the tumor bed only.  Where the whole boob deal was administered from above-and-down-from-the-bottom-right (the machine emitting the radiation was positioned basically above my stomach and pointed just “south” of my armpit) and from below-and-from-the-top-left (the machine is slightly below me angled up from just “south” of my armpit pointing basically toward my stomach) (both of which angles if the depth were miscalculated would harmlessly shoot away from my body into the open air, the boost part will be straight down into my body from above (I’m imaging from somewhere above the left side of my body angled some top-to-bottom, left-to-right way entirely through my body front to back – I’ll know more on Monday when it actually happens), carefully (I sure fucking hope!) calculated to hit the bottom of the tumor bed, but no farther down into my body.

– Oddly enough, with the first blast of down-from-above today, I got some pain where the my ribs connect to the top of my sternum.  Also, as I’m wearing a bra today for the first time in more than a couple days (since the increased pain lately made me wonder if I should be dealing with gravity more deliberately), but I’m finding it generally uncomfortable, slighty cutting into me on the side where I’m more swollen, and then there’s the rubbing on the nipple.  Welcome back to damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t.

Side Effects:

– Fatigue/lightheadedness – Seems to be a regular deal these days having this hit me while I’m walking from treatment out into the parking lot to go to work.  I’m not sure if it’s one or the other, or both.  I can’t always necessarily separate them (not that I’m trying so hard to do so.)  Thankfully, when I sit down in the car to drive to work, my mind is all there and I’ve not felt like I would be a danger to myself or anyone else (or I’d not drive until I was safe).

– Just plain fatigue – yeah, I’m typing this and it’s only 12:35pm.  Seriously?  That’s it?  Time’s now going backwards, right?

– When I got home and got ready to do my evening gooping, I stopped at the exposing the boob part, since mine had (guess I wasn’t going to get away without it after all) gone full red – like lobster colored.  Fabulous, my last mother-fucking day of full-boob radiation.  Plus…

– more numbness (means more swelling, or more concentrated swelling is now interfering with nerve conduction) and more overt swelling/pain in my axilla

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.