Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Please welcome back to the blog...

...my buddy Wide Lawns, whom I've been following for a couple of years now. I got crotchety and de-blogrolled her a while back when she overhauled her blog and changed its focus significantly, but she is a fabulous writer and she has won me back. Check her out.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chapter 37, wherein I gross myself out.

So, for the last couple of weeks, I have watched as hives on my leg grew larger and larger. They started out as two distinct red weals, not unlike the ones I had on the same leg during my chemo (Taxol) days. But then they got a little bigger and developed a red, raised ring around each with a paler center. I figured that I must be having a reaction to Tamoxifen, as "rash" is listed under possible severe reactions. I also suspected the raspberries and strawberries I've been eating with abandon, which have never caused problems before, but which are suspect fruit nonetheless.

Today, after determining that the spots were, in fact, getting larger and not fading away, I began to think that I ought to do something about them. First, I called my oncologist's office, and we discussed the possibility of my stopping the Tamoxifen for a week to see if what I had been calling a rash went away. Then, I went to see my healing coach (also an RN), who took one look and said, "That is not a rash. You need to stop diagnosing yourself and go to urgent care. Those look like bites, and they could be tick bites." Next, I had an appointment with my physical therapist, who also weighed in: "You've been having a lot of medications; you should see your oncologist and make sure it's nothing to do with those." So, I hiked across the hospital campus to my oncologist's office - which was, strangely and fortuitously, completely empty - and asked to see the nurse. The nurse took a look and got the NP, who took a look and said, "Tick bite. Go to urgent care." (They also reassured me that Lyme Disease would be easily treated since it had only been a couple of weeks since the red spots had shown up.)

I drove directly to urgent care and hung around until they opened. The nurse took one look and said...





And also, completely unexpected.

The doctor also took one look and said, "ringworm," though the ringworm test failed to show evidence of ringworm. So we did a Lyme Disease test, just to be sure. I expect a phone call in the next day or so with those results.

Meanwhile, I'm not allowing to go in the public pools (found this out a bit late, as I'd been in several over the last week and a half) until this clears up, and Mr. P. just had to wash the bed linens (for the second time this week - there was another vengeance cat pee recently).

At least it sounds like ringworm isn't actually a *worm*, which makes me feel a bit better about the whole thing. *shudder*

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The MJ Furor.

Seriously, this is bizarre. The fan frenzy surrounding Michael Jackson's death is turning friend against friend. One of my Facebook friends has been defriended by one of *her* Facebook friends - and called a "douchebag" - for not liking Michael Jackson. I have a suspicion that this is not an isolated incident.

I also think it's odd that we are surprised by the internet and Twitter traffic his death has caused. This is what happens when an icon dies. Had Twitter been around when Princess Diana died, it would have happened then, as well. Further, while I am in agreement with the lamentations about the state of journalism and of America's attention span as evidenced by the media focus on Michael Jackson rather than, say, Iran, I also don't think this is anything new. Has there been any noteworthy media coverage on the Congo, lately? No? Thought not. At least in this case, there is a particular news item that is overwhelming other news stories, and it is not simply that America doesn't give a shit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Blogging on Feministe!

Wow, I am so excited - I was invited to guest blog at Feministe this summer! I will let you all know when this will be (now I have to think of something to write about...).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fat and food politics for breast cancer survivors.

I went to a sort of "spa day" yesterday that was held by my onc's office. It was lovely to have a positive, confidence-building experience like that with other survivors - we had healing touch sessions, massage, tai chi, etc. - but I am really rankled by the way that the issues of food and weight were handled. The nutritionist spoke in very vague ways about food, listing certain foods that had particular anti-cancer properties. That was helpful. What was not helpful was the following:

Telling a room of women of all shapes and sizes to "be as lean as possible without being underweight," which is a recommendation of the American Cancer Society. Here's the problem with that. The research on diets tells us that they don't work - including Weight Watchers. The vast majority - over 90% - of dieters (including Weight Watchers) gain all the weight back, plus more, within five years. Meanwhile, the stress on your body and heart of gaining and losing and gaining and losing weight is phenomenal. Heart disease is (I think?) the leading cause of death among women. Something to keep in mind.

Moreover, telling anxious women to lose weight (the nutritionist was rail-thin) without giving them some real guidelines for how to eat healthily and exercise sufficiently is just mean. And further telling them that the recommendation for daily exercise is 60-90 minutes a day is insane. How many of us would ever be able to do that? Most people would say, "I can't even come close to that - I give up." Further, it was unclear what she meant by "exercise," since one of the suggested activities to count into that 60-90 minutes was GARDENING. She also said that walking around in the office counted into that. So I think that the actual recommendation is for 60-90 minutes of ACTIVITY, and 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. But she was extremely vague and did not clarify this when asked. Perhaps she didn't know.

Finally, the food at this event was typical, midwestern lunch food - white bread, chicken, cheeses, green salad, and several pasta or other salads, with cake and brownies for dessert. How about using this as an opportunity to share whole foods and vegetables that women may be unfamiliar with? How about showing how delicious eating an anti-cancer diet can be?

What I came away with after her presentation were the (false) ideas that gardening is an aerobic activity; that Kosher meat is no different than conventional meat; that sugar is fine to eat in moderation (without any mention of paying attention to when you eat it and with what). I'm frustrated for the women there who are going to take this as true because the woman who said it has a lot of fancy certifications.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Working for Water.

I just read this extraordinarily moving piece, and I wanted to share it with all of you:
"The Constant Potter".

Friday, June 05, 2009

Um, what should I call this? Celebrity news fail?

The sentences in italics appear in the article as clickable links for more information. This is so blatantly bizarre that I will just leave you to it:

Kelly Clarkson: I'm Tired of Hearing "the Fat Joke"Us Magazine - June 5, 2009 6:07 AM PDT

Kelly Clarkson says she's tired of being bullied over her weight.

"For seven years it's been happening. It's like, 'OK cool, the fat joke,'" she said during an interview with 2Day FM's Kyle and Jackie O Show in Australia.

Look back at the weight ups and downs of your favorite Idol stars!

Despite the taunts, the American Idol champ says, "I love my body. I'm very much OK with it. I don't think artists are ever the ones who have the problem with their weight, it is other people."

See stars who underwent dramatic weight losses

Clarkson has also come under scrutiny over her sexuality. She says she doesn't care if people think she is gay.

Look back at the most controversial Idol contestants of all time
Her only gripe?

"The rumors are not helping me on the dating front!" she said. "I prefer the boys. I'm extremely flattered when I do get hit on by girls, and I think it's hot, but I'm not into it. I like boys."

Check out 20 unforgettable moments from this year's American Idol finale

She said she's in no rush to find Mr. Right.

"I'm only 27, not 40 and still single!" she said. "I enjoy being single, I love work and I think people are so passive with relationships and I'm not that person."

See which Idol stars have gotten married or had babies.

Added Clarkson, "I'm an extremist, I'm either in a relationship or I'm not. I'm honest about it and I'll tell people, it's just there's nothing to tell. I have a very good life."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Hell and back, and integration.

In Reinventing Eve, Kim Chernik writes about the brave women who descend into Hel (one "l") and return (they wear a Hel-met - no kidding). In Surfacing, Margaret Atwood's main character "dies" and spends time in a world of the dead before coming back to her life, reborn.

It occurred to me today that I've been approaching living after cancer, living under the threat of cancer, all wrong.

I got a phone call this afternoon from my oncologist's office. When I heard, "This is Dr. X's office," my immediate impulse was to panic. 'Why could they possibly be calling me? They never do that. The only reason they could be calling now is to tell me that something is very, very wrong - right?'

In fact, they were calling to invite me to a special retreat for breast cancer and ovarian cancer survivors - food, massage, tai chi, and speakers on survivorship. All in all, a lovely day.

But the phone call still made the contents of my stomach sour. Thinking about cancer leads me down a path I don't want to go, and so I've tried to pretend it never happened - yes, I have these scars, but really, it's just a misunderstanding. Yes, I take these pills, but I am healthy, damn it. I hide from it and feel great, but every single time - *every* time - I am caught out by a doctor appointment, a change in treatment, a new celebrity who has been diagnosed, or, most recently, a new feature film about someone with cancer - I panic.

I'm tired of panicking. I feel like an animal that has been abused. I am cringing already, before the loud noise and the kick.

I think the problem is that I need to integrate this experience, somehow. I need to learn how to live with this in a way that isn't fearful, but that doesn't erase it, either.

So, despite my gut instinct to run screaming from anything pink, from anything at all suggestive of cancer, I think I will go to this retreat and try to figure out how to place these two worlds together and move forward.

Monday, June 01, 2009

For those of you who are thinking it's been a long time since I've blogged about cat pee...

...guess what? One of the cats peed on the bed yesterday. As always, we don't know why. We suspect it is the same old recurrent problem, which her thyroid medication has seemed to help until now. However, since we spent much of Saturday afternoon outside with the neighbors, where the cats could hear and see us but couldn't be with us, it is always possible that this was a vengeance pee.

I keep thinking that I wish she could talk so that she could tell us, but it occurs to me that, cats being cats, being able to talk would not solve the problem. I'm sure she would either refuse to speak or else hurl Elizabethan curses at me. And if it *is* health related, she would be highly indignant at my inquiries as to the state of her bladder.