Les Éléphants

French Word(s) of the Day: les éléphants (lays el-eh-fawn)- elephants

The second chemo session hit me a little harder than the first.  I had a headache before it had finished, so I’d already guessed this might be the case.

I woke up the next night feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  While elephants are my favorite animal, I’d much prefer it if a much smaller animal was sitting on me… like a bunny.

Don't tread on me!
Don’t tread on me!

It turned out to be intense heartburn, and I’ve been banned from eating chocolate and spicy foods around chemo time and had my medicine increased.  (I’m allergic to some forms of heartburn medication because I’m allergic to everything- including myself- so my doctor had a hard time figuring out what to do about it.)

That’s right- chocolate.  OH THE INHUMANITY!  Take my arm, my leg, my hair, but not my ability to eat chocolate!!!

Don’t worry, everyone.  It’s only for about 3 days after chemo.  I’ve already had some chocolate since then.  Actually, I’ve had a lot of chocolate.  And cake.  And chocolate cake.

I could tell I looked bad at work on Thursday because everyone kept asking me if I was okay.  Having elephants on your chest is serious business.  My boss asked me if I wanted to leave for the day, but if there’s anything more stubborn than an elephant, it’s someone with an elephant on their chest.

For everyone who’s worried I’m pushing myself too hard, I managed just fine.  It was an easy day and I went home and rested directly afterwards.

Thursday was my only truly bad day.  I’ve been a bit tired, but everything’s been manageable.  I think I’ve figured out all my food triggers.  (My food triggers: anything that tastes good.) It’s very scientific, being sick.  Lots of trial and error and experiments over here.  I’m considering getting a lab coat to wear around the house with “It’s always lupus” written in purple script where the doctor’s name typically goes.

Everyone has just been so supportive throughout everything.  I do read everyone’s comments and I appreciate them.  Among other things, my aunt got me ginger beers for work, my lovely godmother made me my own meal at a party on Sunday, and my parents and Alyssa came over to help me clean.  I haven’t really had the energy to tidy up, and it’s been LOVELY to have a clean, put-together room.  (I have room to dance around in my purple tutu!)  My family and friends are one fabulous bunch, let me tell you.

Gros bisous!

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Le Deuxième

French Word of the Day: deuxième (dooze-E-em) second

Well folks, treatment number two has arrived!  Both my parents have joined me again.  My mom brought cookies for all the nurses in the infusion lab (for bribery to get the best chair, I assume.  She’s a tricksy one, that Siobhan).  The nurses loved the cookies and have been extremely nice (well-played, mom, well-played).

To be fair, they were nice last time too.

I have been warned several times that the effects are accumulative, so I’ll get at least as sick if not sicker this time- but also assured that sometimes people don’t have any issues at all.  (“It’s probably going to SUCK, but it could also be okay.  Who knows, right?”)  Gotta love how forthright the medical community is.  I’m going to be the first person who gets less sick each time.  By the sixth time, the chemo won’t even enter my body- it’ll just go straight through.

My partner in chemo crime.
My partner in chemo crime.

Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but we’re busy watching TV shows about polygamy.  (HBO’s Big Love anyone?  I think we’ve confused everyone else in the room with our running commentary.  “Wait, he’s getting ANOTHER wife?”  “Oh, she’s so gonna kill him.”)

La fête de la Saint-Patrick

French Word(s) of the Day: La fête de la Saint-Patrick (la fet day la sawn pah-treek)- St. Patrick’s Day

My next treatment is tomorrow, so I’ve spent my last two weekends having fun honoring my Irish ancestors.  (For the record, this does not mean I was drunk.  I’m only allowed a glass a day.  If I got drunk off that, my ancestors would bow their heads in shame.)

Chicago has embraced St. Patrick’s as its own personal holiday, and by embraced, I mean uses it as an excuse to indulge in near-fatal limits of alcohol.  We’ve also embraced other holidays for this purpose, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but St. Patrick’s Day is by far the most heavily attended.  Drunk, green people can be found in every nook and cranny of the entire city.  (Sometimes they’re just wearing green, sometimes their skin is painted green and sometimes they’re temporarily green from being sick.)

I was feeling decently good for all the festivities, which was nice.  I lasted ALL of Saint Patrick’s Day and even got a few dances in at one of the bars we went to.

My cousin, Bridget, managed to make it to 21 without having a sip of alcohol.  Of course, this meant that she had to catch up on all the fun she’s been missing with a pub crawl.  I was only too happy to assist.  Don’t worry; she’s Irish.  She’s got the whole alcohol thing covered.  Not even a headache the next morning!  I’m so proud.

This necklace turned my neck green.  Luck o' the Irish my foot!
This necklace turned my neck green, so obviously it’s made of only the finest materials.

People did ask if she was wearing an Irish dancer’s wig.  Nope!  That hair is the real thing.

Also, can we observe how you can’t even tell mine’s been falling out?  I told you I had mad skillz.

I hope you all had merry St. Patrick’s Days!

Side Effects

French Word(s) of the Day: les effets secondaires (lays eh-fay say-con-dair)- side effects

“The remedy is worse than the disease. – Francis Bacon

That’s right; I just quoted Francis Bacon.  I mean serious business over here.

It’s that time that every sick person knows and loves: side effect time!  Medicine is always fun because it likes to go above and beyond curing you.  It’s like it’s saying, “I know you just want me to solve your issues, but I really want you to know I’m here and that I care.  How about a headache with some dizziness?”

I had a fun start to last week.  My medicine, in addition to keeping me awake, also made my knees, face, and hands swell.  As you can imagine, this made sleeping even easier and gave me an incredibly amount of patience in dealing with difficult people at work.  (I don’t think I made anyone cry, but I may have responded with just “No.” to several requests.)

The swelling has finally gone down this week.  My doctor decreased that particular medication.  She told me that she’s extremely impressed with how low I’m keeping my salt intake.  I’ve been bragging about this all week.  “Oh, you got a new job?  That’s all right, I guess.  Me?  I’m just being a rock star over here, consuming record low amounts of sodium.”

Last Tuesday, I woke up covered in hives.  I thought to myself, “Joy beyond measure, I’m allergic to one of my medications.”  I had an emergency doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning to figure out which one.  It has since been found and replaced with a new medication that looks suspiciously like yellow finger paint.

Yellow finger paint or medicine?  You decide.
Yellow finger paint or medicine? You decide.

I told Rocio that it’s been making me a little dizzy, and she said, “Of course it is, you’re ingesting paint.”  I’m not going to say that I don’t trust the medical community not to prescribe me paint, but I’m not not going to say it.

With all the swelling and the rashes, getting ready has taken double the time.  My hair has begun falling out in tiny chunks which has added to my slowness (and completely clogged our shower drain.  You’re welcome, Rocio).  Don’t worry; no one has any idea.  I’ve got mad thinning-hair-hiding skillz.  I’ve been wearing my hair curly, so everyone just assumes I got a perm.

You should all be aware that I’m now going to be really late to everything.  This is completely different than before when I was only kind of late to everything.

La Pleine Lune

French Word(s) of the Day: la pleine lune (lah plen loon)- the full moon

Did last week feel like it lasted forever to anyone else?  By the end of Monday, I knew I was in trouble because I was convinced it was already Thursday.  There was a full moon, and the crazies came out in full force!

Full moon

I got asked how to use a phone and how to send an email.  (In case anyone was wondering, the most common resolution to any tech problem is “please turn on the machine.”) Someone also asked me how to use Google.  I showed them, but it was extremely rough going there for awhile.  They just could not find that “search” button.  (Yes, the one in the middle of the screen.) I almost sent them this: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+use+google

But I didn’t because I like not being fired.

Of course, I could just be suffering from all those mood swings I was promised.  Maybe I just had less tolerance for stupidity?  Considering everyone else at work felt the same way, I don’t think it was just me.  Luckily, there was a ton of food left over, so everyone just kept eating their feelings.

Having so much food on hand meant I was eating brownies and cookies at least twice a day.  My stomach has been extremely displeased with my decisions.  (But really, just try to turn down a chocolate peanut butter brownie.  See?  You can’t even resist based off the name!  You’re probably all Googling it now!)  As a result, I swelled up a bit this weekend.

I was okay by Sunday afternoon.  There’s nothing a little Pilates, yoga, and dark chocolate can’t fix.  Except Global Warming.

Stay sane, everyone.