A View From the Field
Journal February 2001
A milestone passed - I noticed when I conducted my daily inspection of my head last night that I am beginning to grow hair. There is a crop of little brown bristles about a millimeter long, and my scalp (which shines with more-than-oriental splendor) is bumpy, like things are trying to erupt from under it. I've had the shadow of eyebrows for about a week, but it's always a great day when the head hair finally shows up. About this time, I begin to wonder if I'll be bald forever, even though I know better. Now if only I could get some eyelashes so things would stop dropping into my eyes... And it's unfair that my moustache started to grow before the hair on the top of my head. I've shaved that once already. I might add that I never lost all the hair on my legs. It doesn't seem right that the chemo seems to selectively attack the hair you want least to lose.
While it will be a while before I can go hatless - I'm hoping for Easter - at least I can look foreword to that. The hats have been a severe trial this time. Since it's winter, I've had to keep my head covered most of the time, including at night, and the hats bug me. With no bristles to hold them in place, they slide all over. My headliners, which are sort of like watch caps, are really too small for my big head, and they slide up until I look like I have a soft flowerpot sitting on top. When I have them pulled over my ears, I don't hear so well, and with my questionable hearing, that's bad. The caps, for some reason, tend to rotate toward the right, so the ties end up behind my right ear instead of in back where they belong. When It's cold out, I end up wearing two hats - a headliner with another hat over it, which does make my head look funny.
It interests me how white having no eyebrows or hair makes a person look, not just me. Even though I have color in my cheeks and lips (not so much as usual, though), somehow without eyebrows particularly, my face just looks bleached out. I've notice this same thing in other people, too. It's not going to get me to drawing on eyebrows, however, which I can't stand on anybody. I rather envy people who can stand to wear wigs, because that helps the looks a lot, but they are simply too uncomfortable for me.
So I struggle with hats and hope the hair grows fast.
Everything else continues to progress well. I sang with the choir in church yesterday and went to communion, both of which felt very good. I had a time with the stairs, and I was tired afterwards, but it was a good feeling to be getting back to normal. I expect that by the time I need to start packing for Copper Harbor, I'll be feeling pretty good. That relieves my mind, because there is a lot of work to do around here to get things sorted out and packed up.
What nice things to be looking foreword to!
Well, the new toy arrived, and I must admit it's neat. The idea of having pictures as soon as I can download them into the computer is enticing. Of course, now I have to make sure I have a printer that can print on photo stock, so when I take a picture of something good, I can show it to people who don't have a computer. There are always complications...
For a camera with as many bells and whistles as it has (it's a Nikon Coolpix 990), it was surprisingly easy to learn to use. Point and shoot is nice, too, although as an old SLR photographer, I don't really trust it. And learning where "half way down" on the shutter release button is results in a certain number of pages that look like this. Well, live and learn. I only have 20 seconds to push the delete button before the picture is recorded, and so far I haven't been able to think that fast.
I got a couple of pictures of the cats, and a couple of some of my needlework projects, past and present. See the gallery. After the trouble I had with the el-cheapo film scanner, I was a little suspicious of using the USB connection, but it worked fine. The software, Nikon View, is pretty weird, and it will only copy files to disk in one folder (not the one I want, of course), but it works without problems, and it will also delete the files from the camera.
There are a lot of features I'll be a long time in trying, but it's a fun thing to have. I have a suspicion the cats are going to get tired of the flash.
I saw my internist yesterday, and as a result I have to do a 24 hour urine test, to see how my kidneys are behaving now. Yuck. Otherwise, I am feeling good and I plan to go to choir practice tomorrow, as well as bible class. That will get me back in the swing of my usual dates, which will be good. Sometimes my stomach bothers me and sometimes it doesn't, which is a step forward, and the taste in my mouth is slowly going away. So slowly, day by day, I'm getting back to normal. It's a good feeling. Unfortunately, I've lost all the stamina I'd built up before I got into this, but I have some hope that, since I didn't start out so weak, it won't take so long to get it all back. I sure hope so, with the spring I have coming up...
Well, now to update the gallery, then upload this.
Better update this before I forget how.
When I saw the doctor Tuesday, my blood tests were pretty much normal for the second time in a week, so I guess that is all under control. I am feeling better, too, and having less stomach trouble.
In fact, I felt so good, I went to bible class yesterday. That was nice, to see all the people, and it wasn't at all strenuous. I decided to wait on choir practice. I will try to get to church on Sunday and see how that goes. Ash Wednesday is next Wednesday, so probably I will go to church in the evening and stay for choir. Since I missed singing at Christmas, I am bound and determined to sing for Easter.
I actually do feel better than I did in November and early December, when I was still doing my normal activities, but I keep remembering that I have lost a lot of stamina and it will take time to get that back. As the doctor said, be reasonable.
In the meantime, I finally finished the first half of the coat of many colors and the third bird (those cedar branches nearly made me drop the whole project...). Since I've ordered my reward for coming through the transplant - a digital camera - in a week or two I hope to have some new images to add to the Gallery, of cats and needlework projects and things like that. I will also be scanning some of the pictures Phoebe and Shirley sent me of Rainbow's End, even though the ones of the interior are out of date. Shirley sent some really beautiful pictures of the pines and the snow outside the house that I want to post.
As for the house, the cabinets are pretty much installed, and they are working on wiring the fans. I guess they installed the stainless countertop in the kitchen today and Adam discovered that the exhaust fan came without any installation instructions. Probably they can wing it, but he wants to talk to the place I bought it from. They also had to dig out the road with the end loader again. I guess they've had another foot or more of snow in the past few days. Winter isn't over yet... Wish there was a reasonable way I could get up there to see it all, but as things are, I'll just have to wait and hope somebody sends some more pictures.
So things are slow and getting back to normal, which is all to the good.
It's just as easy to get out of the habit of writing every day as it is to get into it. Actually, nothing much has been happening, so I have nothing to report. That's nice for a change.
By drinking water until I upset my stomach, I managed to stay out of the infusion room this week. My chemistry was all out of whack on Monday, so I drank water for two days and today it was apparently pretty normal. Interesting that those are the results Lehman is faxing to U of M. Anyway, I will try to keep drinking lots of water, but I strongly suspect that those results - the kidney function things - will keep going up and down for some time.
The encouraging thing is that slowly my stomach is getting back into shape. I still have to coddle it, and keep it filled, but most of the time it isn't bothering me. A real relief, and another step forward.
I spent the afternoon with Carey yesterday, and it was nice to see somebody and talk about her problems rather than mine. It was also nice to talk about needlework. Haven't gotten to do that in a while. She had my loons picture all framed, so I brought it home. It is beautiful, and I will have to find some prominent place to hang it at Rainbow's End, but I am afraid it isn't big enough to hang over the fireplace as I'd originally planned. All that stone and wood would dwarf it, I think. We'll have to see. Anyway, it came out very nicely, and it will have a place of honor somewhere.
Today I spent the afternoon in the sewing room moving piles around and starting to inventory all the stuff I brought home yesterday. I did manage to find several little projects I'd thought I'd lost. I'd stuffed something else into the project case on top of them and buried them. I'm not surprised, even though I thought I'd looked for them. Things were rather confused back in December when I was searching. Mostly I just moved things around today, but I see that there is a lot of stuff to take downstairs, and when that is out, I'll have a little more room to move around. That would be nice. I have some framing to do and a couple of bathrobes to make.
So everything is quiet and dull, which is about the way I like it just now.
Around 3am this morning, I started composing a journal entry for today ... which is now gone, as I knew it would be. More times than I can count, or remember, over the years, I've composed A View From the Field in the middle of the night, only to completely forget I'd done so in the morning, or, if I remember I'd done it, the text is completely gone. From what little I've occasionally remembered, I strongly suspect my magna opera, wonderful as they seem to me at 3am, are pretty trivial. Now I can't even remember what I was thinking about last night. And if you think I'm going to climb out of my warm nest at that hour of the morning, fire up the computer, and start typing, think again. Even when I'm well. Even with the computer in the same room with me, as it is now. That's just not my style. I was on call for too many years to do it for fun.
Whatever I was thinking about first got me thinking about journal entries, or writing down my opinions in general. I suppose my opinions are as valuable as anyone's, and maybe more valuable than some, but I've always been a little shy about putting them on paper and sharing them with the world. Maybe this website and this journal will change all that, but it will take time. I have the suspicion I may find a lot of it is as trivial at 3pm as it is at 3am. We shall see.
I do know there is a little quirk in my writing muse. I've written fiction since I was 10 or so. It is always longhand, on 3-ring notebook paper, and almost always with a blue ballpoint pen. I've discovered, because I've tried, that I can't compose fiction on a typewriter or a computer. I can transcribe and edit - don't enjoy that - but not create new text. At the same time, I find it almost impossible to compose non-fiction, especially opinion essays, in longhand. For that I need the computer. If I put my opinions in the voices of others, it's longhand, but if it's in my own voice, it has to be typed. Very strange.
The point of my musings at 3am about journal writing are gone, too, because around 4:30 I went back to sleep so soundly that I slept until 10am and apparently hadn't moved for 4 hours, or at least that's what my left ear felt like. Sometimes I've been sorry I've forgotten those things, but all the solutions I know about to that problem involve getting up and turning on the light and at the very least taking up a pen and paper. I guess I just don't have the right attitude for a real journal writer, to want to make sure my Important Thoughts are preserved for posterity...
They always say a habit once formed is hard to break, so here I am writing a journal entry, even after I said I thought I wouldn't.
Actually, the trip to see the doctor turned out to be interesting. He agrees that the thing on my thigh is ugly - now he is afraid it will abscess. I don't think so, with all the antibiotics, but we're watching it. Then he discovered that I am dehydrated, and my uric acid levels are up - gout again - so I spent the late afternoon at the office being hydrated, and I have to go back tomorrow for more.
That didn't surprise me much, really, since particularly yesterday my stomach was so bad I didn't eat or drink much at all. I am going to have to try to force myself to drink water, whether it tastes bad or not. I think I am beginning to find a combination of foods that will go down and feel good there. I've learned I won't be able to start the day with a 10 ounce glass of orange juice for a while. I will have my oj with lunch instead. Cereal with milk goes down better than eggs. Things like that. If I can get started in the morning with the right combination, I'm all right for the rest of the day.
On that subject, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home this morning and laid in yogurt and tv dinners, things it's hard for anybody else to get for me, since what I buy depends to a great extent on what's available at the time. Only no raspberry, blueberry or strawberry yogurt! I've had enough of those for a while.
I didn't wander in the store, but I was surprised by how good I felt when I got back into the car. It wasn't like a full-fledged every-other-week shopping trip - I'm not up to that, nor to putting the groceries away when I get home! - but I actually wasn't overly tired, and I didn't have that horrible weak feeling in my legs that I keep looking for. That means to me that I actually didn't lose too much in strength over the past two months, and it's only a matter of time before I get my stamina back.
So long as I keep drinking water...