Margot Update 80

October 21 – Eighty!  That seems to be a huge amount of updates to have written over the past couple of years!  And…..I’m still writing!

I am way behind on info, too, life has been just speeding by and dragging me along with it!  Key word there, Life.  So glad to still be a part of it!

I have been on my trip to Oregon and have been home now for five days and have had  only one……..ONE……..slight leg cramp in nine days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cut down the Quinine Sulfate to one before bed but have upped it back to two after the one cramp.  I started taking two Magnesium tablets this morning but my tummy didn’t seem to like that (or it didn’t like something I had done to it!  Just slightly queasy) but I will try it for a couple of days to see if all settles down.  Maybe by increasing the Magnesium I can decrease the Quinine Sulfate and just keep it on hand for attacks. I am afraid that Lucinda Faye is off sulking somewhere trying to figure out her next plan of attack on me so feel the need to keep ammunition on hand to combat her!  It is so wonderful to not have those dreadful things all the time!  So I REALLY feel fine now!

Having said that I had a very unsettling experience flying home from Oregon and an odd thing happened while I was there. I am watching myself closely for the time being.  On the second day of teaching I forgot my large demo brushes in my room at the hotel which was a half hour away from where the seminars were being held.  Didn’t even realize it until I went to my bag to get them and they weren’t there. Then I remembered washing them and setting them on the counter to dry overnight.  That was a shock I can tell you.  I mean, I am teaching painting classes and brushes are sort of important!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Lucky for me (VERY LUCKY!) the place I where I was teaching had a video camera and a lot of TV’s so all the students could see very well so I just used my smaller brushes and brought the camera down lower. Now, you would think that would be a red flag and that I would be super careful of what I was doing, wouldn’t you?  Well………………….I look at my plane ticket and see that I don’t leave until 6:35 on Monday.  I noted that on the Friday I arrived, mind you, so this went on all weekend.  Anyway, the seminar chair offered to spend the day with me so on Monday I got up late, packed, checked out of the hotel at noon and she took me shopping. We went back to the place where I had been teaching as it was also a wonderful gift shop and I had seen things I wanted but there really was no time for me to shop properly.  So after we finished there we had lunch and then she took me to the airport in Portland and dropped me off.  It is now 4:30 and I am there two hours before my flight – such a good, responsible person, right?  I go in to the American Airlines counter and note that it is not very busy (no one was there but one man and he was doing something with his head down) and figured it is a smaller airport so maybe they normally are not as busy, but when I go up to the counter he says to me, “Well, either you are really early or really late.”  Oh, oh. He then asks what time my flight was and I told him 6:35 and he says we don’t have a 6:35 flight and I say, “Sure you do, it says it right here on my ticket.”  He looks at my ticket, looks up at me and says, “Yes, but it is your connecting flight out of Dallas.  The flight you were supposed to be on here in Portland to arrive in Dallas left at noon (when I was so leisurely checking out of the hotel).”  Then the final touch to this dreadful situation, he tells me the next flight out is at 11:50 p.m.!  Seven and a half hours later!  And………….I had to pay a hundred dollars to change my ticket!  I can tell you I was very near tears at that point and had to struggle to keep myself composed to make all the rearrangements. I am reimbursed for my travel expenses but they do not reimburse me for being stupid!  Of course, my original ticket said right on it that I was to have left at noon, I just only read the bottom part that was out of Dallas. How did I think I was getting there to fly out at 6:35?????  Luckily I had crochet with me and a book so I had something to do. Had to fly all night to get home and missed my Herceptin treatment that was supposed to be on Tuesday morning, I didn’t even get home until I would have been halfway through the treatment! My concern with all this is my thinking process. Or lack of…………… Do I fly so much that I am getting complacent about really checking things or is something wrong with my brain? And forgetting my brushes!!!!!!!!!!!!  If I had checked my bag to be sure they were there, but no, I never even thought about it while I was in my room at the hotel!  Classes went just fine, thank heavens, but those two mistakes were doozies!  Hopefully it is just that there is a lot going on and not some breakdown in my brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did go in on Wednesday for my Herceptin treatment so I do not get off schedule.  Only one more to go!  I am feeling quite chipper now about finishing up with treatment.  A whole year!  That was a very long time to have to deal with all this even though it was not as hard on my body.  I have said all along that it was harder mentally to deal with the recurrence than the year long treatment.  Now it does not feel like it has been a year!  It is even hard to imagine I did it for that long!  I wonder how long I will have to keep my chemo port?  Last time (2003) I finished chemo in November and had it removed in January when I had the final implant surgery so I didn’t have to have two separate surgeries. You can keep the port in for a very long time if you go every six weeks (I think that is right) to get it flushed out.  It will be interesting to see how long I have to keep it when I see my oncologist next month.
It really has been a rather bizarre week though.  Jen and I met up with Dr. J and his friend to go to Third Thursday in the Orlando Art District on Thursday night.  We all went to dinner first and then went to the galleries.  I was supposed to meet the president of the Orlando Visual Arts League which I am joining so was looking forward to that meeting but when we get to the galleries, everything is closed!  We saw a gallery owner that we knew and they let us in and told us that there was a film festival on the second floor of the building so Third Thursday was being held on Friday instead.  Friday?????  Then she says that the arts council couldn’t decide if it should be Wednesday or Friday and they decided on Friday.  Again………Friday?????????????  She did not seem to think it was odd that Third Thursday was being held on Third Friday instead, or that there was a choice between Friday and Wednesday instead of Thursday and to still be calling it Third Thursday, but I can say that we all thought it was very strange!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Things are progressing very nicely with the addition.  Tomorrow the drywall guys come to begin the drywall finishing and Tuesday a guy comes to begin the stucco work on the outside.  Spent today moving the plants that are in pots around and digging some bushes up out in front of our house.  We have some repair work that needs to be done to the stucco out there so needed to do something about the bushes that were in the way so out they came!  Our neighbor is taking them in the morning to replant.  Now that the front area is cleared out I can begin to design the new courtyard for out there.  I have nothing else to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hair – I did dye it Brazilian Brown and over the pink hair I ended up with a nice reddish glow!  Not only did I fly back from Portland with no wig I went the whole day without one and felt fine.  However, for the Third Thursday outing that was actually on Friday I wore Fiery Fiona as my really short hair does not feel dressy enough.  I like big hair!  Some days my hair is quite curly, some days just wavy.  Not sure what is going on there. I find that if I use a conditioner it is curlier than if I just wash it and that if it dries pretty much by itself instead of using a hair dryer that it ends up curlier. Not nearly as curly as when it came back in the first time, this is more of a natural looking curl/wave.  We’ll see what happens as it continues to grow.  It is two inches long, I know because I measured it with a ruler!

I really do feel just fine I am happy to say.  Life is very good right now. The weather is gorgeous, steady progress is being made on the addition and I feel great.  What more could you ask for?

I love my new refrigerator!  You remember, the racy black one?  It makes crushed ice and I have found I am drinking more liquids because I can put them over crushed ice and drink them through a straw!  That was a nice perk as it sometimes is hard to get all that 48 – 64 ounces of water down every day.  My favorite is Crystal Light Lemonade with extra lemon or lime juice added. I use those little packets that you add to bottled water and squeeze in the lemon/lime from those plastic ones you get in the produce section!  I love easy!  Sixteen ounces goes down very easily that way and of course some of the ice melts so you get even more water!  Who knew buying a new fridge would be so good for me! The more liquids also helps with the leg cramps (among a host of other health related stuff) by keeping me well hydrated. Does that all justify the cost of a new fridge??????? Justification Justine wants to know!

October 22 - I forgot to mention something I learned at my radiation oncologist appointment last week.  I asked him “why” I had to stay out of the sun for a year.  I was imagining that I would get skin cancer or some other dreadful thing if I didn’t stay out of the sun and he just said because I would tend to sunburn easier, that’s all.  He reminded me to be sure and use SPF 30 sun block.  So, I won’t turn into a puff of smoke or catch on fire if I am in the sun nor do I need to slink around as Vanessa Vampire avoiding the sunlight, I just have to be sensible!  Okay, I can do that (for the most part anyway!) Sensible Serena must be among my various personas somewhere!

My sister, Nurse Martha, and I went to see Menopause the Musical this afternoon.  This is my second time and her first. If it comes to your area you MUST go and see it and go with a friend who likes to laugh!  It is so hilarious!  It is about the so called secret passage of menopause that it is not a secret anymore!  Bought a really cool T-shirt while I was there. It is black with an impressionistic painting of an angel and around the edge of the painting it says, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world I will answer you – I came here to Live Out Loud!”  I love it, it is me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you are interested in the musical or the T-shirt go to

Came home and there is drywall mud everywhere!  But……………the walls are looking good so I am just ignoring the white puddles everywhere for now!

October 29 – Still no leg cramps so the Quinine Sulfate is a winner!  However, once in awhile I can feel that dreadful Lucinda Faye poking about trying to find a new way back in!  NO way!  She is banned from my collection of personas!

Have been going out more with my own hair, leaving the wig girls in the closet on their hangers. I still rely on them for dress up as my really short hair feels too casual.  I actually enjoy wearing them so it is not really a hardship. My own hair I have to mess with and the wigs I just have to shake!

Today we trimmed trees all day.  What a job!  The stucco guy comes tomorrow to start the big stuff and the drywall guys were here today so we figured we better get the big jobs done in the yard before we have to begin to paint all this new construction.  Now we are getting really impatient waiting on other people to finish so we can get in there ourselves!  I’m still glad we hired the drywall out instead of trying to do it ourselves.  That is way too much work!  Had to move all the potted plants from my patio area so the stucco can be applied.  It will have to look bare there until we can get it painted.  Lots of work still ahead for us.  But…………..I am feeling quite well, still tire easier than before and have to take little rest breaks but…………….I can do anything I could do before, it just takes a bit longer.

Good news.  I went to the endocrinologist on Wednesday and I am doing so well with my diabetes that I do not have to go back to see her for six months.  My A1c is still 5.4 and all my “numbers” are within range for cholesterol and blood pressure.  She commented on how well I did with going through chemo and radiation as well as contending with diabetes and I told her that after beating cancer twice I was not about to let diabetes do me in!  That I CAN control at least at this point.  I know that diabetes is a progressive disease, once you have it you have it forever, so sometime in the future I may have to increase my medication or I may have to go on insulin but the longer I can control it with healthy eating and exercise the longer I will have to not have to deal with complications from diabetes. 

I have not had any more “stupid” episodes thank heavens!  I leave again on Friday for Baltimore and will be paying very close attention to where my brushes are and when I am supposed to be at the airport!  Maybe Stupid Stella only came to visit for a short time!  I certainly hope so!  She is about as welcome as Lucinda Faye!

Depressing Deena seems to have gone home, too.  Tearful Tina has replaced Weepy Wanda.  Tears do come easily but I have not been so very sad and well….weepy……with Tearful Tina.  I like her much better!

Getting geared up for Halloween!  I have not decorated inside this year as there is just too much mess everywhere.  Jen and Harold have the day off on the 31st so we will be creating our scary, spooky Halloween setting outside to scare all the little kids (big kids, too!).  I bought some new decorations to add to my collection.  One is a skeleton mask that has two layers and you squeeze a “heart” full of “blood” with two tubes that run down inside your costume and it looks as though the mask is bleeding when you squeeze the heart!  I just found out that my six year old grandson bought the same mask – what does that say about me??????????????? I also bought a “hat” that is a supposed to be a brain wrapped in gauze with blood oozing out and it has a rat sitting on top chewing on a piece of bloody gauze.  The rat talks and says disgusting things like, “Come and join me for a bite – I especially like the soft squishy stuff!”  It really is gross and will be loads of fun to see the reaction it gets!  Remember, my goal is to see how many kids I can scare!  The older neighborhood kids will be joining me again and my sister, my niece and her son will be here too helping to scare and maybe even a couple of young adults will be joining us, too!  One of the neighbor boys is going to bring down his keyboard, dress up like the Phantom of the Opera and play scary sounding music!  It really is a big production every year!  I always have to outdo the year before!  It really is great fun! 

November 11 – This is the longest I have gone in quite awhile not writing.  Lots going on and I guess I am busy living!

Treatment is done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  My last Herceptin treatment was on November 8.  Weepy Wanda was in residence all the livelong day!  Harold was baffled, he thought I would be happy!  I kept thinking of all I had been through this past year.  A whole year of treatment, I am not sure now how I did that!  I don’t really know what I feel to be truthful.  I am glad to be done with all the treatments that is true, but ……………….now what?  I wait……………… and be tested……….. and wait…………….. and be tested………….and wait some more.  In the meantime I need to put my daily life back together, one that does not include treatments of some sort.  I have to go next week for an X-ray of my left ribs because I have a pain under my left shoulder blade that has been here for awhile and any pain that persists needs to be checked out.  I see my oncologist in February and he wants me to have a PET scan before my appointment and once a year for a while.  He thinks it is really important for someone who has had a recurrence. Me too!  Any checking for a return of this nasty stuff is fine by me!  I will see him every three months for awhile and they will do blood work to check for tumor markers then. I also need to get the chemo port removed but I will wait until January.  I would really like to NOT have any hospital doings during the holidays! I have only had one holiday season since 2003 that I have not surgeries or treatments and I would like to start a new tradition by being home and healthy for the holidays!  Oooooooooooo I am such a “poor baby!”

During my appointment I told the nurse about my odd hair color and she said she tells everyone (not everyone apparently!) that they first couple of times you use hair color the color will be odd because of all the chemicals still in your body and hair.  I have dyed it twice now so maybe I will be okay the next time.  This color has stayed and looks fine.  Not red enough though!  The “pink hair” did not happen the first time after chemo but I think I waited about six months.  I was thinking it was only three months but I wouldn’t have had enough hair to bother coloring it after only three months so it must have been longer.

A note on the Quinine Sulfate.  My oncologist was pleased that my cramps are gone but not because of the quinine even though he admitted that the Taxol may have caused some permanent damage, won’t know for awhile yet.  He says quinine can mess with your platelets.  I looked at him and said my platelets have always been fine even when I was having chemo and using the over the counter quinine pills and drinking quinine water and I am going to cut back to only one quinine capsule before bed so he made a face and told me I could take them. Good thing!  I think I would have defied him on that one.  I love, adore, am ecstatic and thrilled - there are not enough good words for how I feel about NOT having nightly cramps nor being attacked by my own body on an airplane!  I think I finally killed Lucinda Faye!  Gee………….too bad.

Halloween went well although I didn’t get really enthused until about two o’clock on Halloween day.  Harold and Jen were off work so they helped me set up.  The neighbor boys came and helped but even they seemed more subdued this year.  One of them was sick with an ear infection and went home early.  We did have kids that would not come up no matter what kind of candy we had!  Love it!  Love it! One boy told Jen “Thank you” for taking the trouble every year to do so much for Halloween and that really makes it fun!  My bloody mask was a hit, lots of disgusted faces looking back at me!  What fun!

I had to leave three days after Halloween for my next teaching trip and had to see the podiatrist about my leg cramps – he was pleased the Quinine Sulfate worked – not as pleased as me I can tell you – then had to see my regular doctor as I have had a problem with my ears since I flew to Portland and the day after Halloween I was eating a piece of Halloween candy- not even very sticky and…………….off came one of my crowns so had to fit the dentist in there, too!  I was their first Halloween casualty. Geez Louise what a distinction!  Trip went well though, no problems flying this time!  I will NEVER read my ticket wrong again in my whole life!  I told my oncologist about that whole episode and he reminded me that “chemo brain” is a real thing and that I am not done with it yet, it is still too soon after chemo for all those side effects to be gone. I feel so good it is hard to remember that it has only been seven months since I ended chemo and only four months since I ended radiation and just a few days since the end of my last treatment. The first time I dealt with breast cancer it was a year an a half until I felt “normal” again and I really must give myself time to properly recover.  I think that because the treatments were stretched out I never felt as bad as I did the first time so forget the drugs had the same toxicity and I actually had more of them for a longer period of time this go round.  I know I am rambling but that is how my thoughts are right now. Rambling Rose is apparently her for a visit!

The stucco guy shows up once or twice a week and does one wall at a time.  He is doing an excellent job but at this rate it will be awhile!  Had to move all my plants on the patio so it looks really bare out there again. The drywall guys can only come on Sundays and they are not working as fast as we thought they would and it is taking longer than they thought it would, too.  Again, they are doing an excellent job but we need to get on with it!  Lots to do and we cannot go on until they are done.  I want in my new studio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Tried to order carpet tiles and they are “temporarily unavailable” so we are checking to see what that means.  Have to buy paint and light fixtures soon (I hope!)

Going to make an appointment for a hair trim.  Not enough for a real haircut but I need to be neatened up and shaped (Someone needs to get me in shape!) I am going to try the stylist Jen uses to see if she can jazz me up!  I am about half and half between my own hair and my wigs. I probably could go without the wigs at all but my hair is still short and I don’t feel dressy enough sometimes. And the wigs are soooooooooooooooo easy!

I’m sleepy so I am off to bed.  9:30 on a Saturday night, Harold is asleep in his recliner – Whooee!  We are party animals!

Photo of the Week (probably should be of the Month this time!)  This is the office end of my studio, shows about half the back wall, the French door is in the middle of the wall, and all the walls are painted!  It looks like a real room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can’t wait!

Rambling Rose, Weepy Wanda, Tearful Tina, Depressing Deena, Evil Sneaky Leg and Foot Cramp Lucinda Faye, Justification Justine, Stupid Stella, Sensible Serena

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