My oncologist hugged me today. Y’all know I’m not really a hugger – even of those of you who are related. But one of the joys of this experience is everyone’s great bedside manner all my doctors and nurses have been super, treating me like a real person and not just another ugly carcinoma. (Except of course the jerky plastic surgeon who didn’t even seem to see me as an addition to his income or surely he would have tried to do a better sell job. Maybe he’s living off his stocks by now and finds anything beyond Botox injections too much work. Or maybe he was just having a bad day…)

She’s cut her hair to chin-length (the oncologist). (Have I started a trend? My IT division director cut hers not quite as short as mine last week and I got a card from her that said I inspired her ;-) – she says it’s post baby-and-breast-feeding-back-to-normal look (the oncologist – the division director is almost my age). More to the point, she says she can no longer feel any tumor. I told her I couldn’t, but that I hadn’t been very good at finding it in the first place, and she said she was, and she really couldn’t find it, so there. She’s pretty excited at the progress.

After the last Taxol (should stop saying that, but it is so much easier than paclitaxel, the generic name, which I can never remember the spelling of) August 31 I’ll get new imaging – didn’t ask how drastic – not wild about another MRI with the John-Cage-an-octave-lower-and-many-decibels-louder-sound effects, while lying perfectly still with an IV in your wrist, which is suspended from a hook very much like those cartoons of people in dungeons (the wrist,
not just the IV – really!). But they say it gives a much more detailed picture than a mammogram. I should insist on seeing them. Maybe I can get a digital copy and have before-and-after for my screensaver, along with pictures of and from many of you.

The stubborn port-a-cath refused to give blood again today – I had had great hope because Kristina the chemo nurse had managed it at the end of the infusion last week (after they had drawn blood from my elbow, of course – and I mean the vein inside the bend of my elbow – I said ‘from my elbow’ to someone last week and they said Ewww! – not sure what method they were imagining and not sure I want to.) So more drain cleaner, but it only took half an hour this time. And I had learned my lesson and made the earliest appointment – no more starting after noon and getting delayed past closing.

Cool – I just found a picture and description of my pump – http://www.msdonline.com/biomed/meh/CADD.HTM – for those of you who are into detail, it’s the CADD Plus. Couldn’t find a picture of the waist pack. I’ll spare you the instruction manual which is full of the usual warnings (common to hair-dryers, toasters, even non-electrical and non-mechanical devices) about serious injury and death – only this actually seems like it might be possible without doing something incredibly stupid – and then they say you can actually take a bath with it – not me – I can go 24 hours without, thanks.

Hilde shaved my head Sunday – it only took three recharges of the electric razor ;-) Since neither of us had ever done this before, it was an adventure. She quickly developed a great technique. I was beginning to remind myself of my father with the little hair I had left. Now I remind me of Star Trek or something. Am not sure which is more disconcerting – not really distressing, but definitely hard to get used to. Am considering fake tattoos for the top of my head. Suggestions? I was thinking roses – Arend vetoed a cobra. But maybe something that would coordinate with all my off-duty clothes would be better – Celtic or Scandinavian knots? (I promise any of you who might not want to be seen with me to cover them up.)

A coworker who finishes chemo in May came by Monday to be cheering – she said her hair was about two inches long now. She also said her nail polish melted off her nails while she was on chemo and she couldn’t find anyone else who had reported this side-effect. She was on different chemicals, but I don’t think I will paint my toes anytime soon, anyway. Or maybe I will – it would be an interesting experiment. I am still getting at least one comment a day on my haircut – they continued pretty seamlessly when I switched to the wig, so it is secretly amusing but I sometimes have to fight off an impulse to be honest and explain. Everywhere but work I’m in a scarf or the infamous do-rag – it’s just more comfortable.

Anyway, I should be in fairly good shape until Friday night or so – and on the upswing when we leave for our trip next week, which we are really looking forward to. Getting out of Austin in August, visiting, getting Arend started on his next adventure, will all be great. I thought I would catch everyone up before I descended into fatigue and lack of concentration – the Benadryl or something seems to make me quite hyper for the first day or so and so you get this stream-of-consciousness account. I figure I might as well enjoy the experience, especially since it seems to be having the desired outcome. Hope you find the account interesting. (I’d been kinda customizing these accounts for each of you, but find I am turning it into a mass mailing – well, ok, there are only a select few of you. Thanks for listening to me being shamelessly focused on me, and bless you.)

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