March 28, 2016

Back on line

I've been off blogging for the past two weeks. Between recovering from the blood transfusion and getting ready for the Pfizer re-visit of Story Half Told, things have been really busy.

About a month ago a Pfizer representative contacted me again to say that they wanted to revisit we five women from last summer's photo shoots. So sadly, Holley Kitchen died in January at age 42, but her husband and young kids were willing to participate in a follow up on life without that amazing woman. I was willing, and I believe Carol, Jen and Khadijah were also. That makes an update on all five of us. It'll be done at a slower pace than this hectic summer when they tried to get all of us during the same month.

Timing is everything. John Frazier, the guy in charge of the PR team, was able to come to Seattle last week and so was Angelo Merendino, the photographer who will shoot all of us this time. We spent Saturday night through Tuesday evening together:

Dinner to get to know one another (at Barolo, a great Italian place downtown);

Brunch with T and S, our friends since I joined Radost Folk Ensemble, who just happen to share the same wedding anniversary date with us, which we've never celebrated together before;

A long talk into Angelo's camera to record some ideas and thoughts on these experiences, my life with metastatic cancer, etc.;

Labs drawn by the Amazing and Wonderful Nurse Jacque;

Lunch at Cafe Presse, my favorite place on Capitol Hill with the best fries ever;

A lovely tea party at J's home, with many of the friends who've taken me to chemo, brought meals, and walked dogs when Rik and I needed help;

A great visit with Rabbi Borodin, which included a review of part of the Yizkor service which we posed for the camera;

Lunch at the Ravenna's Varsity Restaurant (more eggs with hollandaise sauce);

And an appointment with Dr Goldberg, at which Angelo was like a fly on the wall. Dr G and I talked freely.

Lastly, Ang took some photos of Rik and I. First we tried to get me into my wedding gown, which would have fit if we could've unzipped the whole thing but the zipper got caught at the waist and no one could have shouldered into it. I was reminded of my parents' 25th anniversary (I was 15, Susan was 13) and their friends made Mom get into her wedding dress, the dress we used to play in, all stained and torn, for  a mock remarriage ceremony (she wore a bagel as a ring). After the party i the wee hours, we four gathered in their bedroom and my mother was shouting to my dad, "Just cut it off me!" (It must have been tight, hot and uncomfortable.) And of course my dad was trying to be patient and replying to Mom, "Wait, I've almost got it." This was with the original six inch zipper. I'm so glad K remade the bodice for me with a twelve inch zipper, but it still didn't help to have had the dress sit in a box for 21 years.

So I held the dress over my clothing, Rik took up the train, and he wore the veil. It was cute. I hope.

We went outdoors to take more photos in the back and side yards. Then we all trooped back in to warm up and Ang and I recorded more about the past few days. These two recordings will give context to the photos when the exhibit comes together.

They left Wednesday morning and both have called or texted me to see how I recovered. I spent that next day in my PJs doing nothing; went to group on Thursday; and cooked kosher paella for dinner Friday night for C and M (with chicken, halibut, and "soysage"). We had missed his birthday, so this was an impromptu celebration. My nephew was in town to visit his girlfriend and we took them to to brunch on Saturday at Portage Bay Cafe (sorry, even I can't eat eggs with hollandaise three times in the same week). Sunday I ironed all Rik's shirts and we joined G and W for a significant birthday dinner.

It's been a crazy week. I'm still on steroids but tapering off with prednisone. I've gained eight pounds in eight weeks because the steroids just make me want to eat all the time. I hope to start losing the weight in a week or so and get back into more of my clothing.

And soon I will talk about the good results of today's brain MRI.

March 14, 2016

A couple of falls

I haven't fallen since the day my left leg broke in 2002 (also the day I learned about the mets and went home on crutches. I'd never used crutches before.).

That's a long time without falls when you have metastatic breast cancer in your bones. But the weather has been so rainy here in Seattle that a week ago I fell while grabbing the walk rail from the driveway to house. I slipped on the mossy sidewalk and boom! went down on one knee. Just a scrape, but it shook Rik and I.

On Friday morning at 4 am I got up to use the toilet and didn't turn on the hall light. This is my usual habit. I tripped on my own feet and went down on my tusch. Not eve a bruise, but again it shook Rik and I a lot.

I went in later that day to see Dr G and he was concerned about a couple of reasons for the falls. Leftover issues from brain radiation? More brain mets? So he put me on steroids (8 mg dexamethasone daily) and then ordered labs. Guess what? I was anemic. So he also ordered a blood transfusion for the weekend.

Rik and I spent all day Sunday from 930 am - 4 pm at the Swedish Cancer Institute. I got two units of red cells and my cheeks were pink by the time we left.

If you are able, please sign up to give blood the next time there's a blood drive in your neighborhood. Or don't wait for a drive but head over to Blood Works NW (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center) and make a donation. For various reasons, Rik and I are no longer eligible to give blood, but we thank and appreciate those who do so on our behalf.

March 07, 2016

Ankles and knees - again

My ankles and knees are painful again. In early January they really bothered me. Last week I saw my podiatrist, who diagnosed plantar fasciitis in my left heel. A few days later, my right ankle began to hurt, as did my left ankle (not just the heel). Then the knees. Could it just be arthritis? And how do you diagnose arthritis? X-rays? Other imaging? Lab tests?

I've asked Dr G to order an X-ray (if it would help) after today's chemo. And maybe we'll learn more.