Zap Zap #1

Nerves + over adequate hydration + the office running an hour behind schedule due to a broken machine = three potty breaks before they even took me back to Serenity. Once they got me positioned on the board and lined me up with my tattoos, I had a quick pity party for one. I’m 33, I should be focusing on how the heck someone potty trains a toddler, not who’s going to watch said toddler and his little cheeseball of a brother every day for the next five weeks. Then I remembered- it is what it is (thank goodness for #teamfilloon) and then thought of one of my favorite sayings- bloom where you are planted. So I will. (Try)

The techs took a couple of X-rays to make sure everything was all good and then they placed a bolus pad on me. It’s like a large gel pad and I can’t remember what it does. Something about being an extension of my skin…. So, that’s there and then zap zap zap. All together, the actual time on the board was about 10-15 minutes. I felt nothing, saw nothing, smelled nothing. The most stressful part is when they say “Just keep breathing normal.” Yeah, ok. Gasp, gasp, gasp. 

Me, trying to breathe normal 😳

So, recently, I googled if Mercury was in retrograde. Short answer- No. Then I googled “what does Mercury in retrograde mean….”

Why did I google this? Because I google everything, duh. And because I’ve been in a funk and I just can’t seem to shake it. I’m not mad, or sad but not totally happy either and I can’t pinpoint it to one thing. I do feel like the after effects of chemo are really starting to kick in. The chemo brain and joint pain are really bringing me down. Each morning when I get out of bed, I shuffle to the restroom because the pain and stiffness in my feet is unreal. Sometimes I can’t even open the milk for H because my fingers are too achy. And the insomnia. Arg. 

I try to stay positive and I’m completely aware that I have so much to be thankful for. And I am. But I also want to be honest, things get hard. I have lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember but as of late, it’s been really yuck. And overwhelming. 
I have realized my self care has been lacking so I’m sure that’s not helping. I’m really trying to get back to it. Eating better, exercising, yoga, acupuncture, deep breathing, beach trips…. but in the meantime, do I just fake it till I make it? Isn’t that a thing? Like if you make your self smile, eventually you won’t have to try because you actually get happy….. something like that?

Me, beachin’ it with the boys
Also me

I know we all face moments when we need to fake it till we make it. And if you don’t, seriously- a huge high five for you. Hell man, high fives all around anyways because life gets hard whether you need/want to fake it or not. I guess this just happens to be my moment and I’ll pull through. 
Luckily I have Zoloft to help me fake it until I do.  😜

Tatted Up

My last pre-rad appointment got moved up to today which means rads will be starting sooner than I had thought. May 31 to be exact. But it’s all good. Get ‘er done, yeah? 

Just like chemo, I was the youngest person in the waiting room by far. I feel like I don’t belong there but I’m sure no one feels like they belong there.  I do love, though, how HGTV is always on the tv while we wait. It’s like a universal love language, bringing us all together.  

Today was X-rays and tattoos. The first guy who brought me back went over my schedule and some precautions. Like don’t wear any lotions on the area that’s being radiated prior to each appointment. Oh and no underwire bras. I said no problem man, I’ve got no boobs. We both laughed way too hard at this. 

Then they sent me back to change into my gown and I headed in to meet Viv. I don’t know if that’s really her name but that’s what I’ll call her. Viv is the bad mama jama who will be zapping me each day. She resembles a massive microscope from freshman year science class and lives in a room called ‘Harmony’. 

The nurses positioned me on the board, arms above my head and told me not to move. They had some nice jams playing on Pandora- some Fleetwood Mac, Jack Johnson, Alicia Keys, Spanish Guitar, Mary J Blige, Crosby Stills and Nash, Billy Joel…. Sting. I had them skip Sting because- no thank you. 

The nurses began lining me up with lasers shooting from the ceiling and the machine. They work in millimeters which means they sometimes had to shimmy me to get me into just the right spot. I chuckled pretty  hard and told them how funny it would be if I still had boobs! Jiggling all around 😂They seemed to enjoy it. The joke, not my shimmy. 

The pens they used to make new marks tickled super bad which made it difficult to stay in the exact same spot. I wasn’t even supposed to take a deep breath because it could screw things up. Have you ever tried to hold in a laugh when it’s super quiet and you don’t want to make a scene? Then you start to make weird fart-like noises with your mouth because holding it just can’t happen? I suddenly felt that way with the pens. And as soon as they told me to just breathe normal, my body was like “oh, yup, now’s the time we need to yawn and really get some oxygen up in here.” Figures right? And then, of course, since I wasn’t supposed to move, I started to itch. All over. First it was the top of my head, then my left eye, then my right eye, my right shoulder blade, left nostril, pinky toe, right nostril…you get it. 

After about 20 minutes, they came in and told me that the machine messed up and they had to restart the computer. This meant, yeah you guessed it, we had to start ALL over. 

Once they finally got all of the X-rays they needed and had the final spots located to line me up, it was time for the tattoos. Those little jerks were way more painful than I thought they’d be. In total, I was given four freckle like marks. The last one felt very Pulp Fiction-y. Stabbed right in the center of my chest. And then I was done! 

I’m so ready to start this part of treatment, I’m ready to let Viv do her thang. Mama’s got things to do, places to go, people to see! 
So I’m gonna get on that. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the term ‘bucket list’. Basically, I try NOT to think of kicking the bucket. I can’t like it. So instead, I have a list of rad shit I’d like to do- sonner than later. 

For the last two months or so I’ve been craving Hawaii. Maybe I’ve seen Moana one too many times. But hell, that sea, 🎵it calls me🎵. It’s not just Hawaii I need to get to, but France- to tour the vineyards, New York- to meet Hoda and the whole Today Show gang (obviously), Machu Picchu, Sedona, Big Sur, Greece… and then some. But it’s Hawaii that’s really calling me right now. Maybe it’s because relaxing on a warm beach, listening to the waves crash with sweet Hawaiian music playing just seems so therapeutic. I’m visualizing the kids playing in the sand, enjoying a luau as a family, swimming around with some big ass turtles. This urge is something fierce. So to continue with my never ending quest to heal mentally and physically- along with my supplements, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, Drs visits, crystals, visualizations, and so on- I want to brave the flight with two littles, to soak up those healing Hawaiian vibes. 

So, I guess I’ll say this- if you have a bucket list, a rad shit you want to do list, or any other list written on a sticky note somewhere in a drawer, get on it. Don’t wait until something comes and lights a fire under your butt. 
I’m officially adding Hawaii to my comeback tour. 

Comeback tour, wait, what’s that? …. I’ll get into it later. 

Fun fact: because my appointment ran so late, I got to see a beautiful sunset on the way home. 

Rads, They Are Coming 

Today was my follow up Radiation Oncology appointment. And I’m sure this will sound odd, but I left pumped. I’m excited. I’m so ready. 

We went over what I can expect as far as side effects: a skin burn, fatigue, a dry cough, other cancers….. umm what? Yeah, the radiation may cause other cancers down the line. Obviously, the benefits outweigh the possible risks but it’s still creepy as shit. So I’d rather not think about it or talk about it. Ok? Ok. Thanks. 

Alright, so the plan is: on May 15th, I will have the first of two prep appointments. Not sure when the second one will be yet. At these, I’ll get scanned or X-Rayed- honestly I can’t remember. Itty bitty tattoos will be marked on me so they know where to line me up in the machine each day. I was also told I’ll have to be able to put my arms above my head while on my back, so I have some serious work to do there. 

After these appointments are complete and they have all the info they need, I will begin my 5 days a week for 5 weeks rads. I’m told that the radiation itself is quick, like 10 minutes, but overall I’ll be there about an hour each day. 

So yes, I am happy that I am almost done with treatment. And it sounds like this will be the easiest part- compared to chemo and surgery. But I want everyone to remember this: while I’ll be glad that treatments will be over, I can’t simply put this all behind me. I am not the same person I was before August 23, 2016. I’ve changed for better…and for worse. I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach a day where I don’t think about C or where I won’t worry about reoccurrence. I mean, the scars will be a daily reminder them selves. This new me will just have to go forward with all I have learned. 

So be gentle.