Thursday, March 31, 2011

You've Been Deported

Bye, bye old friend.
Ahhhh.  Turn your head to the left.  Now, turn your head to the right.  Feel anything?  Me neither! 

As of 11:55 am, I was made 0.03 lbs lighter and relieved of my subcutaneous plastic friend.  In hindsight, I feel like I should have named it.  After all, it was so helpful, eliminating lots and lots of IV drama, safely and effectively hooking me up to meds and saline, allowing me to donate viles of blood for testing and trying its darndest to become a permanent part of my chest.  We spent many long sleepless nights together, trips to the ER, travels through the PET/CT scanner.  That little plastic dude was a really a true companion, reliable even for an MRI, and right up to the end, for a squirt of antibiotic before the removal procedure.

Seriously? No sedation? Hmm.
I had been wondering what it would look like in there, under my skin, almost a homegrown part of my body by now.  Is it like when a tree grows around electrical wires?  Would my tissue, my veins simply make new paths around this little guy?  Well, apparently there was a substantial amount of scar tissue that had grown around the port, and this required a good deal of tugging and cutting to get him outta there.

But let me back up a minute or two and give you a clearer picture of the morning. 

Dan and I waited in the Radiology Registration room for one of the IR (interventional radiology) nurses to come and fetch me.  We waited and waited and finally, she arrived, bringing me through all of the double doors (authorized personnel only) and back to the familiar sounds of the IR prep/recovery room.  I have lost count of how many times I have visited this place.

Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye
I got the first bed, by the door, and hung out for a few minutes while the computerized-vital-sign-taker gave my arm a tight hug and my heart rate was deemed normal (thank goodness for modern pharmaceuticals).  I changed into my gown and was then approached by a radiology resident to sign the consent forms for the hospital.

This tends to be my favorite part of any procedure:  discussing the risks and even Worst Case Scenario.  I mean, how strange is the time when someone is about to intentionally cut you open and you are not only letting him, you're asking him to do so.  You sign a piece of paper that says, no matter what happens, I asked for this.

under the sterile curtain
Next up, I got wheeled into the fancy schmancy IR operating room (even fancier than the one where they put the port IN), just in case something went wrong and the catheter got stuck, they would have to do a more invasive digging job that would require the use of x-ray machines and for me to go under general anesthesia (hence WCS).  You know, just in case.  I decided to refer to this room as the Just In Case room.

As soon as we arrived, people began to prep me, sterilize the area in question and talk to each other about the procedure.

Nurse #1: So why are we removing this port?
Nurse #2: Finished treatment.
Nurse #1: All done?
Me: Yup.
Nurse #1 (shimmying around the room): Woo hoo!  Port Out! Port Out!
Me: Yeah, it's good times.
Nurse #2: And she wants to take a picture of it once it's out.  She has her phone right here.
Nurse #1: Okaaay..

aw, isn't he precious?
It was about that time that the radiologist/surgeon guy begins to stab/poke/pinch me with what I'm certain was a very large and thick needle.  He prefaced this by saying, "You are going to feel a small pinch while I administer a LOT of local anesthetic."  What he meant to say was, "I am going to thread an extremely sharp, humongous, pointy thing through your skin many many times without numbing it first and it is 1,000 times worse than when you get a needle in your gums at the dentist, so hold onto something and try to remember your lamaze breathing."

Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow.  I have had plenty of pain (real pain, not just a bruised knee or a sore throat) in the past few years, so I'm pretty clear on what hurts and what is just passing discomfort.  This was real, hurty pain.  The doc advised me to watch some videos on my phone, so I began to watch the one on youtube of Judah laughing at 5 months old.  I watched it about 5 times before I realized that it may be distracting to the doctor as well, so I changed it to Will.I.Am's "What I am" from Sesame Street (since all of my/Judah's "favorites" are from sesame street), and eventually to Vanessa's Wedding Surprise, which always makes me happy.
Bump? Gone. Happy me.

Since I had been given ZERO sedation, you can say that You Tube got me through the big needles at the beginning, the removal of the catheter (no drama, phew), and the sharp pain (enter even more local numbing agent) of the cutting out the port in the middle and then the stitching me up at the end.  Paste on a little glue and call it a day.

I'll admit, when the port was finally out, and the doctor proclaimed, "You have been de-ported," I began to cry.  The nurse standing next to me noticed and asked if they were happy tears.  "Um-hmm," I nodded.  Tears of incredulous emotion, of fear of the future, of relief, and surely, happy tears.

Now, no showers for 2 days (good thing it's not 90 degrees out like in July when I got it in and couldn't bathe), and no lifting more than 10 pounds for 10 days.

Aside from the port removal, today was also a milestone in another way.  My handicapped automobile placard expires tomorrow.  That's it.  No more easy parkin for me, it's back to the circling, parking in the back (or, of course, the drop-off).  I truly am slowly returning to normal, even if only on the outside.  Gotta start somewhere.

I've been looking forward to the last day of 3-11 since this came in the mail.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monkey Brain

Final? port access: bloodwork for the port removal
Apparently when you are practicing meditation and your brain is jumping around from one thought to the next and you are almost unable to focus on your breath at all, this is called "monkey brain".  I frequently experience monkey brain during my time on the cushion.  And I find I'm not necessarily thinking about my To Do list, or being afraid of death, but often more trivial things like cupcakes.  And then once I get cupcakes in my head, I cannot seem to get them out.  In between focusing and refocusing on my breath, I compare frosting from different cupcakeries (Georgetown vs. Velvet Sky vs. Brown Betty vs. Dozen, for example).  Each has different textures and flavors, and getting hung up on them makes me hungry.

So, like I said, monkey brain.

Just a few of the tools needed for a port access.
But I also find myself making astute observations during this quieting time.  Unfortunately, it's very hard to remember them afterwards since a)I suffer from chemo-induced memory loss and b)I'm trying my best NOT to think, just to breath.  Last night, during deep relaxation in class, I was lying on the floor, trying my darndest to focus on the teacher's voice, breathing through my feet (whatever that means), when what sounded like an alarm clock in another room in the building started blaring awful terrible tinny pop music.  I found myself not just wishing that someone would shut it off, but that the music never existed in the first place.  Seriously, there are ears that enjoy hearing this?  I don't remember a time when this ever sounded good to me, and certainly not while I'm trying to peacefully listen to the sound of my body breathing.  I've never been good at tuning out sounds, so I guess that's something else to add to my list of challenges.

Fortunately, I am not criticizing myself for this (that would be counterproductive), but rather noting it and moving on.  I am trying to be in a place with no self-judgement, only loving-kindness, or maitri.  But more on that later.


Hear ye, hear ye:  I am getting my port removed on Thursday.  For such a small piece of equipment, this feels like a big milestone.  I've read on some cancer forums that some oncologists recommend keeping your port in for up to 2 years after your first clean scan, you know, just in case.  Luckily, mine felt quite comfortable allowing me to schedule the de-portation pronto.  And while I'm sure I'll have some soreness there for a long time, I'm hoping it will lessen as the years go by (fingers crossed for years going by).

This morning, a beautiful box of produce arrived from Suburban Organics.  I purchased a deal on Living Social a few months ago and had been waiting until Spring to schedule a delivery.  See how beautiful?  And very little packaging!  Plus, they reuse the boxes and liners (when you get your next delivery, you return them).  This is sort of a test run to see if we can use all of the food in here (and this is a small box)!  I like that I could substitute anything on the list with something else in season (up to 5 substitutions), so I did not have to get a bunch of swiss chard if I wasn't really going to cook it.  I like zucchini better.
I think I'm in love

In other news, I have enjoyed video chatting with my kids at school the past few weeks.  I even read a few books to them over the computer.  People continue to ask me when I am planning on returning to work.  I have mixed feelings about this (the returning, not the asking).  On one hand, I know I'm physically not quite up to the job yet.  My breathing continues to feel as though it's through cotton balls, I get light headed easily and I still need a nap around 2:30 every afternoon.  On the other hand, I am not ready to call it a year.  A year of my life to cancer.  I know it could be much worse and I know there are other ways I can frame it, like this is time to heal, to take care of myself, to bring my body and mind back to a place of strength, yadda yadda yadda.

But any way you look at it, it's still time that took me away from living freely, from my job as a parent and as a teacher, necessary but sucky time that put us further away from having another child... And so I am still grieving for that time lost (or stolen).  Clearly, I don't have an answer for when I'm returning to work.  For now I will continue to e-visit and iChat with my kids, cook yummy foods, practice yoga and meditation, make puppets, sew, get my port removed, and rest up.
Argh.  and Shiver me timbers.

My first pirate puppet: Henry of the High Seas

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Ooh, maybe I'll meditate in Hawaii!
So I started taking a Mind-Body Intelligence class last night.  It runs for 8 weeks, an hour and a half each week of guided meditation and then you are expected to practice daily on your own.  The book that we're reading to go with it is called The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodron and focuses (so far) on treating oneself with loving kindness. 

Initially, this seems silly, right?  Aren't we always thinking of ourselves?  Shopping for food and clothing for ourselves, cooking for ourselves, maybe even exercising for ourselves?  We value ourselves plenty.  But then again, I think back to last year, when I really did not value my health (or did not think it was necessary to value it).  I waited many months before going for a chest xray that my doctor advised.  While I made time for my job and my family, I did not think that taking time away from my busy everyday business was really necessary, until of course, it was.

So now I find myself on this path, to figure out who I am if I am showing loving kindness to myself.  This is new for me, even though I believe I've always paid good attention to myself.  Apparently, it wasn't enough.  What appears selfish and luxurious must now become essential, i.e. yoga, massage, regular exercise, scheduled doctor visits, therapy.  Wow.  That's a lot of extra-curricular activities for just one person.

Last night was my first foray into meditation (aside from yoga, which is different).  We sat on our cushions (I was the last to arrive and I did not get a purple one.  Hrmph.) and tried to follow our breath.  We were told to acknowledge any thoughts that distracted us from our breath, and to just label them "thinking", then to return to the breath following.  Sounds simple, right?

At first, it wasn't too hard.  I think having had experience doing yoga gave me a toe up on what it feels like to focus on breathing.  But then the voice in my head (and I was surprised to discover that the voice is very shrill and speaks quickly) tried to steer me to my To Do lists.  I tried visualizing placing my thoughts into a basket, then sending them down the street riding on a tricycle.  This made me smile, but did not bring me back to my breath. We sat for about 20 minutes last night before she dinged a little chime to bring us "back to the present".  This confused me a bit, since I thought the whole point of this was to be very much in the present.  I suppose a better way to term it was to bring us back together, taking the focus away from the breath.  Apparently this is called concentration meditation.  And if we just practiced this type of mindful breathing for the next 2 months, we would see decreased pain, anxiety and improved circulation. 

I'm intrigued.  Since we will also be introduced to other types of meditation (spelled alarmingly close to medication... hmm...), we will have a library of calming resources to choose from by the end of the class.  However, I don't know what this means about how my own daily practice might evolve.  Will I become calmer?  Less agitated?  What about sitting for 3/4 of an hour and following your breath makes you less anxious?  I am curious to know the why and how of it all.  I do, like many, enjoy facts.

Many thanks for staying with me, dear readers, both in the thick of the cancer jungle and now here in remission.  I hope you took a few minutes to browse through the NYTimes collage of cancer survivors.  I found it too difficult to sum myself up in less than 150 words (perhaps I'll give it a try later tonight), so don't look for me there.  I appreciated the diversity of the pictures and emotions that many people were able to articulate.  Although I've written close to 100 blog posts (almost all of them more than 150 words), I still don't know if I've really captured the experience of the past 10 months.  But I'll keep trying.


Monday, March 21, 2011


If you haven't already explored the newest NYTimes Cancer Collage, I strongly urge you to do so.  I found many of the snippets (linked to photos) encouraging and inspiring.  

NYTimes Cancer Collage


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


 Yesterday was definitely what my mother calls a 5 star day.  Amazing, life changing news of my (mostly) clear PET scan, a visit to school to share the results, flowers from my family, celebratory dinner at Cin Cin (yum yum)... It just kept getting better and better.

I am feeling like the black cloud might, just might be moving out to sea. 

We have Spring and later, Hawaii, to look forward to (thanks to my talented mother, Shutterfly, and all of our devoted FB friends who voted).  I can now Skype with my students, thanks to the wonders of modern technology.  Lots and lots of happy times.

Still.  I can't help but know that the drama isn't gone forever.  I feel good about planning things in the next 3 months (that's when my next scan will be).  That sure beats limiting my plans to the next 3 days.  I am a teacher, goshdarnit, I don't do this one day at a time thing all that well.  I like to be planned.  And prepared for every possible scenario.  But you already knew that.  And I'm sure you've figured out by now that I've matured in discovering it's impossible to be prepared for EVERY possible scenario.  Cause I sure as hell wasn't prepared for this one.

I really am focused on the word remission.  It feels dreamy to think it, to say it, like it can't be true.  Prior to Tuesday's results, I did not permit myself to fantasize (more than once or twice) about the possibility of good news.  I did not envision myself screaming from the rooftops, or sharing the news with random passersby (sort of how I did after giving birth to J).  I decided it would be much more logical to think about where I would take my scan disks to get a second opinion.  Or what hospital I would have my SCT.  Or what I could do to survive the next 6 weeks until it was time for a re-scan to double check the bad news.  I know from experience it's much easier to prepare yourself for the worst news than to be totally blindsided by it.  Okay, well, I think it's easier, anyway.  Dan tends to disagree.  Then again, he's mostly an optimist.  Me?  Not so much.

"Good health will be yours for a long time." NO JOKE.
I woke up this morning as a different person.  I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, teacher, friend, writer, and now, cancer survivor.  It easily brings tears to my eyes to write that.  I've made it to remission, even if I do relapse at some point in the future.  I feel so lucky to have heard that word come from my doctor's mouth, directed at me.  And proud of the good cells, who prevailed over the bad guys, even if just for now. 

I cannot wait to get this port out of my chest (hopefully they can fit me in next week?) and go forth towards the direction of my life, whichever way that is.  Tonight I'm enjoying the sweet taste of relief and heading off to bed.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


The verdict is in: COMPLETE RESOLUTION OF LYMPHOMA. Unreal and also very quite amazing. I don't even have words (that's saying something).

There are spots showing inflammation (or possible infection) in my lungs, however, Dr. H believes it to be the pneumonitis he previously suggested. Now there's scientific proof that I'm not imagining the breathing problems (sometimes it's not the anxiety causing the shortness of breath, but rather the shortness of breath causing the anxiety). This could take months to resolve, but I'll take it over bad cancery dudes in my mediastinum any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

I'd like to thank the Academy... and the Hollywood Foreign Press (I've just always wanted to say that). Mostly, big, giant, all-the-way-around hugs to all of you friends, family and anonymous people hoping and wishing and praying for me. Couldn't have made it here alone.

And now, for that very expensive bottle of champagne...



Location:parking lot of fresh market

Monday, March 14, 2011


My view from the small quiet room I sat in while waiting for the radioactive glucose do its thang.

Made it through the big scan. Minor port issues aside (can't people just get the needle in there on the first try?), everything went smoothly.  We celebrated with good green smoothies from chapterhouse since none of the froyo places were open at 11 am. Forgive me, but is it so wrong to eat yogurt before lunchtime? Well then, I don't wanna be right.

Is this all for real? Note the IV sticking out of my port.

Now, we are picking up some hamantaschen filling (cherry) for a week of baking for Purim. I am relieved to have actually had the scan done. We dropped off the disk at Dr. H's office, hoping to hear his take on the bulky blob soon since he is the King of Returning Phone Calls. To help take the edge off of the waiting, I have an MLD (manual lymph drainage) massage scheduled for tomorrow.

Very happy to have scan completed. Love my good green smoothie.

Thanks so much to all of my faithful friends and family who sent texts and emails to remind me of their support. It does make a difference.

This afternoon's plan: bake banana bread (with a secret ingredient - can you guess what the unlikely addition is?), make twice baked potatoes (also containing the same secret ingredient), Judah's favorite chicken sausage and roasted broccoli for din din. Must. Keep. Busy.



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Anxiety: It Ain't Just a Triple Letter Scrabble Word

There comes a certain time in every cancer-afflicted person's life when they find themselves at the mercy of modern technology. Specifically speaking, the full body scanner. Luckily, once cancer has been detected in one's person, the scan no longer involves a whole body, but is limited to the region in question. In my case, of course, it is a localized chest scan (sometimes CT, which looks for abnormal masses and takes interesting pictures of your blobby insides, and sometimes the PET, which looks for hyper metabolic activity in places other than major organs - a.k.a. bad cancerous dudes trying to thrive at my expense).

Since the end of my radiation treatment in December, I have had 2 scan experiences. The first was at the end of January, and of course, laden with d-r-a-m-a, what with my tachycardia and shortness of breath during the port access (which was a big fail). The chest CT I had (with contrast - that is injected via IV and makes you feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy inside) turned out to have "favorable" results. It's that one lonely word I'm clinging to at the moment.

The second scan I had was last week's MRI (also with contrast, this time made me feel like I was about to hurl all over the inside of that very small tunnel) of the thoracic spine. My radiation oncologist was looking for anything that might have been putting pressure on my spine, causing my nerves to go haywire (remember that whole sunburned skin minus the redness?). Luckily, we got the all clear from him on my spine. Thank you, Dr. H.

We have finally arrived at the first post-treatment PET. This Scan is the one I've been both dreading as-though-the-world-is-coming-to-an-end-tomorrow, and willing to-hurry-up-and-get-here-already. If I could fast forward through tomorrow until the results are in a nicely typed and printed radiologist's report, we would all be safer and happier (no matter what the outcome).

The worry, the fear, the vomitous lump in my throat that persists every time my thoughts travel back to what tomorrow's scan could bring, are seemingly insurmountable.

Take a trip with me, if you will, down Memory Lane. Almost a year ago, Dan and I were dealing with a miscarriage, me having breathing issues, the start of The Itching, and so forth. Not a great time in our lives. The end of May rolls around and the chest x-ray shows "a mass". This leads to the first CT and then the first PET, the appointments at an ONCOLOGIST'S office, for crying out loud, the bummer of an IR biopsy, the ICU recovery of the surgical biopsy (ugh, catheters suck), and the waiting for results. 6 insufferable rounds of chemotherapy, one neutropenic hospital stay (and the entire practice season of the CHS marching band), and 4 weeks of radiation later, I do not feel any closer to the end of cancer. If anything, I fear the worst, that all of those fevers, the hair loss, overwhelming physical fatigue, insomnia, crying (still), inability to give my child a bath before bed, it was all for nothing.

I must continue to fight, to deflect those dastardly evil cells whose purpose is to destroy all of my good ones.

There are many others (too many) who have been down this road, who have moved onto SCT (stem cell transplants) with great success. I try to remind myself that that option is there for me, that even if tomorrow's scan is not dark and boring as we are all hoping for, that this is not the end of the line, we have not yet exhausted all of the available treatment options.

This doesn't come as much comfort though. The idea of more aggressive chemo, losing my hair all over again, inflicting even more pain and suffering on those around me, somehow is not all that appealing. Surviving? Yes. Living to see my child grow into a young man? Very much so. And I will do whatever needs to be done to make that happen.

But having this opportunity to look into the rearview mirror and revisit the trauma of the past 9 months? The only ones who benefit are Puffs and Kleenex. They are SO reaping the profits here.

I realize I did not quite articulate the experience of "scanxiety" the way I had initially envisioned. I hope you get the idea without the actual experience: it's terrifying, in a personal house of horrors sort of way. Instead of ghouls and witches popping up around every corner, it's horrible visions of funerals and sadness, empty holes and lives being led without you.

Bright and early tomorrow morning, my port will be accessed for the bajillionth time. I will post again as soon as I'm ready to share the results publicly.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Puttin the Fun in Function

Yesterday I reported to Abington Memorial Hospital for my scheduled Pulmonary Function Test. After an unusually uneventful registration process (with a woman who recognized me from last week's thoracic spine MRI), I was sent to the Pulmonary Lab (who knew such a thing existed?) upstairs.

I was taken to a small room with a little chamber inside. I sat in the chair and did some breathing exercises into a mouthpiece that was connected to different tubes which had computer sensors on them. These were hooked up to a computer which read amounts of oxygen and CO2 coming in and out of my lungs. The Respiratory Therapist (who wouldn't let me take any pictures of the breathing booth) gave me a bunch of different breathing exercises to complete (with a nose pincher ensuring I wouldn't be able to cheat). I had to breathe slowly, quickly, pant, blow like I was playing the trombone, hold my breath... You get the idea. These exercises continued for about 40 minutes with me attempting to follow directions through multiple coughing fits and almost passing out in said chamber.

Staring at a poster comparing a smoker's lung to a healthy lung did not help matters much.

I asked if I failed at the end and she laughed at me. No, ha ha. You will have your results in 5-7 business days.

SO annoying.

Next up: the big, bad, PET scan.
When? Monday, 3/14 8 am for port access

Where? Pennsylvania Hospital, baybee

Why? to check the levels of metabolic activity in my mediastinum. High levels imply one of two things: cancer is still active OR there is residual inflammation from the radiation. Whoop dee doo.

How? I prepare for this scan by eating low carb, low sugar, high protein the day before as well as avoiding strenuous (read: any) exercise or heavy lifting for a few days before (no stress-reducing yoga -- booooo).

Remember, they inject me (via the port) with this radioactive glucose. I sit quietly in a little room (thank goodness for my ipad) for 30 minutes while the glucose travels throughout my whole body. The tech comes to retrieve me and takes me into the scan room. I lay on the table, put my arms above my head and then get zoomed in and out of the donut. 10 minutes later, I'm back in the IR department (my good friends at interventional radiology) and they are de-accessing my port while I'm enjoying a scrumptious turkey sandwich and some graham crackers.

My whole body tightens at the thought of this endeavor. I may require the use of chemical supplements so that a panic attack (as this scanxiety thing is a very quite intense real thing) does not prohibit my being scanned.

Part Deux: I've been thinking about where I'd like to be to receive the results of the test. Do I want to be around people who love me and want to know the results almost as badly as I do? Or is it better to digest the news privately, with just Dan hearing them delivered via speakerphone? I know I don't want to be driving or with Judah (or worse, driving Judah), lest I lose control of the car and veer into a ditch. Hopefully I will establish a plan to receive the results, good or bad, by Tuesday, at which point they could become available to me at any time. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

I'm trying to gather my thoughts (ha ha ha har dee har har) about scanxiety to adequately describe the sheer insanity that takes over one's brain when the mind wanders to (hopefully distant) sad lands. It ain't good. Stay tuned for a fully detailed description.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Word of the Day

Pneumonitis. For seriousness, Mia? What now?

Inflammation of the lung. In my case, as a reaction to radiation. I finally spoke to my oncologist (who is currently on probation - I'm not so quick to forgive), who concurred with my radiation oncologist that my shortness of breath is due to my lung getting all pissy about being zapped. Can you blame it, really? I mean it's just been minding it's own business, processing oxygen, fending of the no-good doers of the mediastinum when all of a sudden it gets blasted with death lasers. Poor tissue.

So I feel less anxious that it's related to the cancer, but of course, my most harmful symptoms have all been a side effect or result of treatment. So I shouldn't really be surprised.

I went in to visit my kids at school yesterday and they were excited to see me (as I was to see them). It always lifts my spirits and makes me feel like myself again when I'm with them. The fact that I get treated like a movie star probably has nothing to do with it.

They all want to know when I'm coming back. I told them, as soon as I can breathe normally again, I'm here. And I do want to be there, with them, and with my fellow teachers. What I don't want is the paperwork, the grading spreadsheets, the benchmarks, PSSA's, the directives sent from waaaay high up that we MUST follow, lest someone find out we are using our own brains to think, speak and make choices on our own. I'd love to be back in the classroom, teaching. Watching kids make discoveries and connections. Helping them to do their best, academically and socially. Setting goals and expectations individually, then sitting back and watching them blow those goals out of the water.

I know in my heart that we will never get anywhere with our children if we spend more time testing and grading what they can do (I haven't even gotten to how awful this is for a teacher yet!) than time to experiment, investigate, explore, discuss, analyze, reflect and write. It makes me long for my own private school days. Oh, Oak Lane Day School, I will never forget you. I didn't become a math whiz there, but I did develop a love for school. In fact, everything I know about art history today, I learned in the little slideshow room off of the ceramics area. We helped out the "little kids", dissected sheep's eyeballs (sorry vegetarians), spoke in Russian, even traveled to DC and stayed in a youth hostel for 4 days. I honestly didn't learn how to subtract large numbers in my head until graduate school (and for that, I'll be paying a monthly fee until 2027, no joke).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying subtracting isn't an important skill that all of us should master (preferably prior to higher education). What I'm saying is, we need to make time for life experiences and personal relationships in school, especially if we want to instill a love for learning in our children. This is supposed to be FUN, people!! Lord, if you don't like what you're doing and where you spend 8 hours of your awake time 5 days a week, something's gotta give.

Forgive me my tangent. I didn't have an answer for my kids as to when I'd be back. I'm hoping this lung business clears up in the next month so I can regain some sense of normalcy, but I can't go back (especially to a stressful and - I'll go there - germ infested atmosphere) until I'm truly ready, physically and mentally.

What I did have for them was a book of poems that I may have borrowed from my child (given to him as a baby), Once I Ate a Pie, by Patricia MacLachlan and her daughter, Emily MacLachlan Charest. I reviewed what it means to be written from the point of view of someone other than the writer's (say, for example, from a dog's perspective), then asked them to listen to the poems with the job of figuring out from whose POV each was written. They quickly caught on, and all enjoyed the adorable puppies depicted next to each poem. It was just like old times, at least from my point of view.

UPDATE: Since the initial composition of this letter, the pneumonitis has continued. Dr. Henry is sending me for some pulmonary function tests to see just what is what in my chest. I harbor many, many fears about potential results, but I'm trying to distract myself for the duration (OH BUT FOR THE WAITING...) with craft projects. See photo below of a sampling of pillowcases I made for ConKerr Cancer. Bringing them back to the fabric store this afternoon to be delivered to children undergoing extensive stays in area hospital, only to pick out more fabric (and Judah now wants one, too). Thanks for the sewing machine, Mommy!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Facebook, Shmacebook

I've been asked recently what gives on my current facebook hiatus. Let me begin my answer by saying this. Facebook has many excellent qualities: reconnects people who have lost touch (Hi, Gina!), keeps you in the loop with your friends' lives, enables fast and easy picture sharing, and has the ability to help create communities (for example, Patients Against Lymphoma and the NHL primary mediastinal large B cell groups I'm a part of). These connections can be extremely valuable, especially in times of trouble. CAN be helpful, CAN make you feel cared for and loved during times when you might otherwise feel all alone.

In January 2010, my new year's resolution was to get off of facebook. I was struggling with fertility issues and it seemed like every time I went onto my account, someone was announcing a pregnancy or posting (very early) ultrasound pictures or complaining about being tired due to pregnancy exhaustion, etc.. You get the picture. Well, quite frankly, I kept hiding these people from my newsfeed so I didn't have to read all about their exciting events. And even more frankly, many of these people weren't even (real life) friends of mine. Once you have more than 300 facebook friends, you can be sure that 75% of them are not people you have regular contact with or have seen in the past 10 years.

** I have tried multiple times to post a link to two articles discussing this Facebook phenomenon to no avail. Check back to see if I can get it to work before 2012.**

Psychology Today


Back to the new years resolution. I was doing a pretty good job about a year ago, if I do say so myself. I was not comparing myself to other people (as much) and I definitely did not feel as sad. Fast forward to the end of May 2010, Dx time, and here I go, right back to the FB page I so loathed. I needed to rally the troops and feel like I was being hoisted onto the shoulders of my friends (or 25% of them, anyway). And I did. There were days during chemo when I did not have the energy or desire to talk on the phone or take visitors. But one click, and there I was, hanging out with all of my besties in my living room (who am I kidding? I was in bed). Let me not ignore the many, many people who expressed heartfelt concern on a regular basis (via FB) and who checked in on me, wrote me mostly meaningful messages and encouraged me all throughout the baaad second half of 2010. Like I wrote before, FB isn't all bad.

Okay, no need to relive that nightmare on such a glorious almost-spring morning (today, in fact - March 2 - is the 20th - yes, that's twentieth - anniversary of me becoming a bat mitzvah). Anyway, that bed-ridden, bald time in my life is in the past (let's hope for good). Now, by the grace of the well-behaved cells still roaming my innards, I am NOT bed ridden and all alone. I have some of my energy and immune system at my service (knock wood or spit it out if you are so inclined) and so I am not quite as in NEED of the social network anymore.

I can foresee a time in the not so distant future when I will be able to just check out my friends on FB every now and then (and even wish people proper happy birthdays), but now is not that time. Re-equipped with my trusty bluetooth keyboard, I can be found here on my blogspot.


Back in Business

I am pleased to announce that I once again have use of my wireless keyboard. The first one had to be returned to (insert unnamed internet giant retailer here) for reasons I believed to be due to a manufacturing defect (certain keys would not appear when typing in caps lock). Now that I'm typing on the newest keyboard (purchased at neighborhood Apple store), I am realizing the problem is that there's a conflict between the iPad shortcuts and using the keyboard. Perhaps on the next update those Apple people will fix this.

In any case, I know I've been slightly M.I.A. (had to use shift) for the past few weeks, what with my disappearance from facebook and my absence from the blog. Never fear, I am back.

My upcoming PET scan is scheduled and the upgraded anxiety has commenced. Knowing I am hypersensitive to every ache and pain in my body is somehow not reassuring. I have some unpublished blog posts, which I will proof and post in the next few days, but I just wanted to get a quick message up here to let my loyal friends and family know I haven't gone completely underground.

Now. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to be crafty for 10 minutes before I go to pick up J from school.


ps. I'm sending very joyous, albeit belated, birthday wishes to a few very special people whose email addresses I could not locate in a timely manner. (I could not break my FB fast. I'm sorry.)