Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Blitz

This post has been a long, long time coming.

I bought this poster either shortly before or after Violet was born, putting it up in her nursery above the changing table.

I thought it would be kinda funny, you know, "You've got this living, breathing, breakable being that came out of your body and is totally dependent on you for survival but don't freak out! People have been birthing babies for, like, a bazillion years and it's all worked out pretty ok so far!"

For a while it was a force for steadiness and rational thinking for me, as I blurred through the first weeks of sleepless nights and endless shitty diapers and second guessing myself every waking moment (and some sleeping ones as well) and having a wave of relief wash over me every time my baby woke up from her slumber.

I was right, it was funny, but it turned out to be funny not so much in a "funny ha ha" way but "funny ZOMG WTF" way.

"You should get that blood in your stool checked out, it could be something serious."

Deep breath.

"Your blood pressure is elevated, you could be pre-eclamptic."

Deep breath.

"The cord was wrapped around her neck. Twice."

Deep breath.

"It's probably nothing, but you should get checked out anyway."

Deep breath.

"It's nothing cancer."


Brigita, breathe.

BREATHE, dammit!

Deep. Breath.

Now let it back out.

2008, was--bar none--the worst fucking year of my life. Terrifying. Desperate. Trying. Exhausting. Disgusting. Horrible. Horrifying.
  • For one hundred and sixty-two days, I shit out of my stomach.
  • During chemo, I had to go into the clinic for fluids on more than one occasion because I could either not get or keep them in me. On one day in particular, I think I had to empty my bag twice in ten minutes. It was like a damn fire hose.
  • Another day during chemo, while taking a shower, I was so weak that my arms literally felt like they were made of lead.
  • All of this and worse.
Cancer is awful. It is sneaky and cruel and unmerciful and--let's be honest--deadly.

But invincible? Sometimes, yes. But I got lucky. I kept calm [mostly] and carried on. I had relatively good health and even better doctors and a metric shitton of support behind me and all together we beat. That. ASS. Like a motherfucking drum.

Get thee behind me, 2008. Your reign is over.

The king is dead. Long live the Queen.

Four for Four!

The following post is encoded to protect the delicate sensibilities of my male readers:

Auntie is in the hizzle! Huzzah!

Back to your regularly scheduled ranting.

O'Hare Drama

Oops, guess this post is a little more than overdue, eh?

The short version (which I've gotten better at telling over the past week) is that some time between curb checking our luggage and the security check point that couldn't have been more than 50 yards away I either got pick-pocketed or thought I had put my wallet in my coat pocket but didn't (the fingers aren't as reliable as they should be these days).

Once I realized I didn't have the ID necessary to get through security, I completely flipped out. Visions of not being home for Christmas slam-danced through my head. I ran around the area where I lost the wallet, checking in with ticketing agents, janitors/cleaning people (apparently referred to as "scrubs"), and other sundry official-looking folks, periodically checking in with Jody, who was looking through our carry-ons even though I knew my wallet wasn't there.

After virtually forcing Jody, Vi, and all of our crap through security, I took a breath and resigned myself to a few hours of looking for the wallet before returning to Wisconsin for another form of ID, driving back to O'Hare, and attempting to get on a stand-by flight. What a way to kick-off a vacation, huh?

I kept checking in with my folks, who were getting to know me by this point, just saying "no wallet yet, sorry" when I would approach them. Many suggested I check lost and found, and while I already had, I went back down to file a report.

As I was doing so, the woman behind the counter asked "Did you lose something, too?" (there was another person there filing a report).

"Yeah, a wallet."

"What did it look like?"

"Black with a devil on it...?"

"Is your name Bridget McCullough?"


The upshot was that the wallet was found by a scrub, sans cash but avec cards, in a restroom trash. I have no idea how much cash I had on me, but it couldn't have been more than $50 since I'm a plastic kinda gal. I really did not care in the least bit about the $$, I was just so glad to have my ID!

Essentially snatching my wallet out of the woman's hands, I sprinted back upstairs and to security. The TSA agent who knew me and my plight took me to the front of the line, where I called Jody to let him knwow that I had my wallet back and would meet him and Vi at our gate.

So that is that! I guess I/we were lucky to get out when we did because O'Hare was a total cluster right up to Christmas Day. Flying into Hartford was a mess as well and we narrowly missed having to fly to Bangor, ME on account of the weather. Yeah, good times.

The good news is that the week got much, much better from there. A merry Christmas, indeed. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And to All a Good Night

PS: Tomorrow I'll tell you the tale of getting pickpocketed at O'Hare before going through security. Oh wait, I guess that's the whole story. Upshot: I still managed to make it on my flight and to my folks'. Ooh, cliffhanger!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Things For Which the Window on Thankfulness May Be Rapidly Closing

  • Pimples*
  • Farting
  • Not being able to fit into clothes
*Dear Dr. So-and-So: Go take that supposedly "menopausal" lab work and cram it up your perfectly-working-as-nature-intended-it pooper.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hot Daddy Alert

Sweet Jesus, I just dropped my coffee.

RIP Mixwit

I got an email today saying that Mixwit, a really fun and easy use virtual mix tape website, is shutting down as of 12/27. From the sounds of it, they're getting squeezed out by the music business. I can't say I'm terribly surprised, but it sucks all the same.

That said, here's the mix I made when I was in the thick of treatment. Give it a listen if you need a little angst to counterbalance all this holiday niceness.

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Point Your Thoughts Hopkinsward

Hey All--I've got a good vibes/prayer request for those of you with a soft spot for those of use with ailing posteriors: A fellow Domer in a similar cancer predicament found my blog when Googling the hell out of his condition and we have been in contact for the last month or so.

Well, today is the big day, and as of about 10 minutes ago, John hit the table and will be having his big surgery. This is the first day in a string of very hard, very long ones that will ultimately get him to NEDsylvania, so while the journey is well worth it, it's still pretty hellacious nonetheless.

I ask that if you have five seconds to spare (one...two...three...), you shoot some happy, healing vibes or fire off a quick prayer to the Patron Saint of Poorly Poopers on John's behalf. If you have another spare five, please do the same for John's dear wife and his sweet toddler.

The similarities are really uncanny, no? Makes you wonder what's in the water out there in The Bend...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Brief List of Things I've Forgotten Today:

  • To put out Violet's dirty diapers for the service to pick up. Good thing it's winter and their living in the garage for a few weeks won't totally stink up the joint.
  • My GI cancer support group meeting--it was going to be a casual and child-friendly white elephant gift exchange sort of affair but I had put it out of my mind since I thought it would conflict with Violet's nap schedule. Turns out we totally could have made it if I had planned for it and probably could still make an appearance if we left right this second but that is in all likelihood not going to happen.
In other news, I am still riding a major high from booking our flight and hotel for our spring break trip to Puerto Rico. Please leave any and all advice, suggestions, and recommendations in the comments.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It Is Now One

As in 1 degree, as measured by our thermometer (actually, it's 0.7°, but I rounded up).

TWC is actually showing it as -1°, -22° with wind chill.

I guess it's another day of all Elmo, all the time in the brigita household.

Friday, December 12, 2008

As Good As "Inconclusive" Gets

After firing that email about my CEA labs off to my chemo docs, I got a call back within 45 minutes.

Now, cancer sucks all kinds of rocks, but I have to say that when it comes to The University of Wisconsin Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, the customer service I have gotten there is the absolute cat's pajamas.

Now, stray one foot outside the cancer center, and YMMV, but those guys are the best. BEST!

Oh right--the results.

So, remember how when I had that first colonoscopy and we were all "OMG THE SKY IS FALLING" and then I weaseled my CEA results out of some poor receptionist and I was all "1.0?! I so don't have The Cancer, I don't care what that doctor saw" and then that nurse was all "Remember what the doctor told you?" and I was all "But my CEA is wicked low, yo!" and she was all "Yeah, but."

:::A year passes:::

I got the call back from my doc's #1 guy and he was happy to report that my CEA was less than 0.5. I don't know if that's as low as it can go, but it's pretty damn low, so that's a good thing, even though we really can't gauge my situation by this tumor marker for colorectal cancer because according to te results of my first CEA lab work, I had no cancer (1.0), despite the gigantic tumor that was growing in my [completely taken for granted, fondly remembered, occasionally mourned] rectum.

Upshot: My CEA level is about as good as it can be, but I'm still going to get scaned every 6 months (instead of the usual protocol of every year) because my CEA is not a reliable metric in my case.

In other news, my Christmas cards are going out before the actual holiday. A Christmas miracle, indeed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's the What

I'm sure I'm not the only one that's crazy busy these days...the good news is that it's busy of the totally normal, average, boring (yet Christmas crazed) variety vs. the what the fuck do you mean I have cancer?! variety, so I've got that going for me.

Which is nice.

I've even managed to push my "condition" so far to the back of my mind that I haven't given a whole lot of thought to the lab work results that have yet to come back (or be revealed to me), although of course blogging about it made me think of it, so of course I just fired off a quick email to Dr. Chemo.

Otherwise, I'm just trying to stay on top of the pile: ready the labels and stamps and what not to get the cards out within 24h, keep the laundry cranking along, work on dismantling the many, many piles that accumulate throughout the house, and generally try to give a little more sense, logic, and order to the way things are organized and put away.

Or we could just burn the house down--ice dams and all--and start from scratch.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Seriously, How Did I Forget This?

Finally, Some Good Lab Results

I had my 3 month follow-up with Dr. Chemo yesterday and it went pretty much as well as possible (so far, anyhow...): my blood counts and liver functions are good, so I've got that going for me.

Apparently the CEA results take a while to come back--of course that's the one test that actually has something to do with the cancer--but then again, my CEA was "normal" when I was first diagnosed, so the results can only be bad or inconclusive.

In other news, my cholesterol results came back and were CRAZY low despite my having nothing but carbs, full-fat dairy, and other crap over the past year:
Total Cholesterol185
So, apparently the cure for high cholesterol is not diet but cancer. Who knew?

Ok, maybe it was the weight loss...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One More Great Plate

While out running errands in the first snow we got earlier in the week (a 2" foundation to support the 3-6" we're supposed to get today), I saw the following license plate:


I had the strongest urge to give the woman driving the car a big hug.