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Grannyism #74: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

21 Feb

Hello friends! I’m feeling inspired (and slightly guilty about my lack of blog activity) so I figure it’s time for a long overdue update. I’ve got lots of news to share, but want to preface it with wise words from the cap of my tea today:

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Although this is easier said than done sometimes, especially for me.

In line with this theme, I am focusing on being more relaxed and not letting people, situations and circumstances get the best of me. I know if I  achieve that goal, I will be a much happier and healthier person. I’m taking baby steps for now, like not letting Austin’s rush-hour traffic ruin my morning or not getting caught up in trivial gossip among friends. My hope is that practicing this kind of thinking will lead me to dealing with bigger-picture things in my life with the same maturity and finesse.

So, onto the bigger-picture things happening in my life – the most important being my mother’s fight against cancer. I’m excited to share that Abha graduated from radiation, hoorah! After 21 back-to-back radiation sessions, Abha was showered with confetti and sent on her way with high hopes from the team.

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Abha was re-scanned after completion of radiation treatment and the doctors shared the results with our family. One of the tumors being treated with radiation (on her thoracic spine) was GONE, completely!! The other large tumor near her lumbar is still in tact, but it has shrunk and will hopefully continue to shrink. Overall, her scans show the masses decreasing in size and the doctors continue to praise Abha as a “star patient” and are hopeful that her future chemotherapy treatments will continue to destroy the lymphoma. Hip Hip Hooray!

As Abha’s health improves, I have been able to pursue things in my personal life a little more. I’m happy to share more good news: Today I was offered an internship as a copywriter for a relocation company called UrbanBound. I am beyond excited! Although I’ll still have to work in the service industry in the meantime, I feel like I am on my way to a solid career in writing and PR. Gotta pay the bills though, right? And in true GIRLS fashion, the first project I’m working on for my new internship is an eBook that will serve as somewhat of a guide to Austin for employees that are relocated here for work. I won’t be working at Grumpy’s Cafe any time soon, or at any coffee shop really, but it looks like I’ll be joining the employee ranks of Austin Country Club to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

So those are the current happenings in my life and I will leave you with a picture of the fur-babies in honor of national pet appreciation day. I am so thankful for the amazing day I had today and look forward to a just as bright tomorrow! Cheers friends.

kitties             doodle

“All Adventurous Women Do…”

31 Jan

Have HPV? Alright, that might be a bit of an overstatement Hannah Horvath. But live life, take chances? That seems more reasonable. I spent my weekend in the wonderful world of GIRLS, laughing and crying right alongside Hannah and the other GIRLS, drinking wine with friends to face life’s hardships and snuggling with my wonderful pets to feel that unconditional love we all crave (except Marnie of course).

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So GIRLS – I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve heard about or seen this show because it is a testament to my life right now, and all of the other 20-something-year-olds trying to figure out what the fuck to do next. I find my life unsurprisingly paralleling Hannah’s – an only child, post-graduate yet to begin a career, trying to get comfortable in her own skin, forming new relationships, closing doors and opening others. I love it! On the occasional evening that I’m feeling down about where my life is at, I crawl into bed, queue up an episode of GIRLS and let Hannah Horvath’s awkwardness overshadow my own and laugh all my insecurities away.

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That being said, I am actually very content with where my life is at right now. Despite the roller coaster that is Cancer, things seem to be moving in a more positive direction. I’m on a new health kick that involves improving my diet, cutting back on booze, getting out for a run a few times a week and a new obsession with BSY Power Yoga.

And even Cancer seems to be cutting us some slack now. We are coming up on the weekend and with it the end of radiation and chemotherapy. After weeks of treatments and appointments I am very pleased to report that her doctors consider Abha to be a “star patient” and are very happy with her progress. In fact, I am coming to you courtesy of the Infusion Room at Texas Oncology Center. We are on day two of Abha’s second Chemotherapy treatment and everything is going smoothly. I’ve been told so many tales of nausea, fever, vomiting and general horror concerning Chemo treatments that I was quite nervous about how Abha would react. We were surprised (quite pleasantly) that she tolerated the drugs with hardly any side effects, save for extreme fatigue. Even better, today is a short treatment so we should get to head home by early afternoon.

So here’s an interesting factoid I didn’t know before we started the fight against Cancer – every treatment is different for every patient. I know this sounds very “Duh!” but ignorance is bliss, right? Don’t judge me for lack of common sense, but I just assumed that all chemotherapy involved the same drugs, but with different dosage, frequency of treatment, etc. However, I have come to find that the drugs themselves also vary from person to person, and I had kind of an “A ha!” moment. So after the recent introduction to cancer and subsequent bumpy road, it feels good for everyone in the family (Abha especially) to get even a small break.

Although this will probably just sound like medical jargon (it still does to me too) but in case anyone is wondering what drugs Abha receives for her chemo treatments, on the first day she receives both Rituximab and Bendamustine (this combo treatment takes anywhere from 6 – 7 hours) and on the second day, she receives just Bendamustine (usually takes between 2 – 3 hours). To break it down – the Rituximab is used to treat diseases characterized by excessive, overactive or dysfunctional B-cells (see lymphomas) and the Bendamustine is an alkylating agent used to treat indolent-B-cell-non-Hodgkins lymphoma (thus the type of cancer Abha has). Anyway – this chemotherapy flew by and we’re heading home by noon. So to wrap it up, I’ll leave you with Abha, always the best sport about everything – chillin’ in the infusion room.

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Arts and Crafts Tuesday! (Jan. 8, 2013)

14 Jan

Wow, I have been slacking. Shamefully so! So here’s a re-cap of the past week. Tuesday, January 8 (Elvis’ birthday btw, thanks years of working at Chuy’s for that useless trivia forever stored in my brain) I dedicated to organizing and simplifying the new day-to-day responsibilities of a family fighting cancer. So seeing as cancer is a complete drag, I figured this was an opportunity to take pleasure in the little things and in this case it was a trip to Hobby Lobby and an afternoon of crafting.

The most important things on the agenda were improving the system for documenting Abha’s meds and treatment related notes and creating a way to track her daily liquid intake. So after a few clicks around my favorite website, Pinterest, I found an idea for a medicine chart that inspired me into creating a “care binder” and a to-do list I modified to be a liquid-intake… tracker? That’s a working title.

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Hobby Lobby was fraught with bright colors, glitter and shine, arts and crafts, semi-useless gadgets and lots of tacky decor… Heaven? Close enough.

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Lee made a guest appearance and joined me on my crafty splurge and as per usual, we enjoyed our surroundings thoroughly.

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So after that eventful shopping trip, I went home to spend the afternoon drawing, cutting, gluing, laminating, hole-punching, etc. The first project was a cutesy water pitcher magnet with individual water glass magnets that Velcro to the pitcher as well as stick to the fridge. I used a foam board and drew a water pitcher that I cut out and outlined with a Sharpie. I stuck a few craft magnets on the back and eight Velcro-stratchy pieces (of the two kinds) on the front of the pitcher. Then, I cut out eight identical water-glasses on blue card stock and also outlined those with a Sharpie and wrote “8 oz.” on the front. I laminated these and stuck the other side of the Velcro piece on the back of each glass, along with a small craft magnet. Ta – Da! What a cute and easy way for everyone to keep track of Abha’s daily liquid intake.

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The docs recommend she drink 64 oz. of “acceptable” liquids (no caffeine – sodas, tea, coffee, etc.) every day. It’s hard enough for me to keep track of what I’ve been drinking all day, let alone what someone else has been drinking. That being said, I didn’t want to leave it to Abha, who sometimes exists in a dopey stupor for periods of the day. Speaking of, we had a good laugh while constructing this when Abha put the foam board through the laminator and it melted and ate the handle. Luckily, we managed to recover it fairly unscathed.

 

The next project was started as a way to organize Abha’s meds in-take, as she has a handful of pills and mouthwashes to take multiple times throughout the day as part of her radiation and chemotherapy treatment. I used a large piece of card stock to create a chart with the times, medicine, dosage and notes for Abha’s daily medications. An hour every line starting at 8AM going all the way down to 7AM as the last line.

medchart        medchart2

I used paint pens and stickers to write with, and a sharpie and ruler to draw lines. After I let it dry out, I put it through the scanner, saved it on the desktop and printed a month’s supply of black and white copies. I hole-punched these and threw them in a binder I labeled, “Abha’s Medicine Binder.”

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I laminated the original copy, put some craft magnets on the back, and stuck a piece of Velcro at the top with a fine-tipped dry-erase marker attached to the other side. With a space cleared on the fridge, I stuck the crafts up there and called it a day.

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1/15/2013 UPDATE** – The system works well! Everyone is able to write down any appointments/notes about how Abha feels (ex. nausea, dizziness, pain, etc.) on the fridge as they happen, stay on top of the medications she needs to take every day at certain times and easily keep track of the pain medication schedule. At the beginning of the next day, I transcribe the fridge notes onto a copy in the binder and keep them in chronological order. It’s been much easier to keep track of for sure!

Seeping in…

5 Jan

Hello friends! Dropping in to post an update. It’s Saturday afternoon and my fingers fly furiously as I type away, while everything else lay still and the house rests quietly. I am coming to you from the couch in the main house (my parent’s place). Mark is in the man-cave reading a book or polishing a gun or buying shit on Amazon or doing whatever. Abha is out cold in the bedroom, surrounded by sleeping dogs and a snoring Siamese. It never ceases to warm my heart when I see animals concerned for their ailing masters. This morning we all went to Abha’s radiation appointment. It seems that the treatments take it out of her, so we loaded her up on her daily medications (or “dailies” as she has lovingly nicknamed them) and set her up in bed for what we hope is a long and restful nap.

That being said, I have some time to update my blog. And you guys. I’m starting to understand there is no normalcy when it comes to dealing with Cancer. Just as it consumes your body, it consumes your entire life. You need to go to work? Sorry, you have to go to six hours of chemo today and three hours tomorrow. There will be 20 rounds of radiation, but you only know when your next two will be. You will need to go back in for new scans sometime next week. It’s hectic and busy and feels never-ending. I feel wrong for saying the word “lucky” but I guess we were lucky that my mom wasn’t working at the time we discovered her illness. However, the rest of us were. So, my dad is going back to work on Monday and I’ll be taking over as caretaker and house mouse since I’m a recently retired bartender. This weekend will be spent organizing medications, creating charts, practicing procedures and preparing for my take-over.

Thus far, everything has been seeping into my brain so slowly… and a lot of the time it still feels unreal. I have a feeling Monday is going to be like a kick to the chest by a mule. I am struggling to fully grasp what’s happening here and still haven’t decided how exactly to process this news and how to cope with it. Do I research it to death and scare the shit out of myself? Do I remain ignorant beyond my immediate requirements to be a caregiver? Do I prepare for the worst? Do I refuse to consider the worst? I have yet to even entertain the idea that she may not survive this and I think it is the best way to deal with this disease. I have to believe, our family has to believe, that she will beat this and come out on the other side stronger and better. Positivity breeds positive things. Being part of this cancer thing first hand, I realize there is no room for negativity. It is hopeless energy. Wasted and lost. This is not to say I want to parade around with balloons hooting and hollering – I definitely let myself feel sad and feel the hurt of this disease, but I don’t want to let that sadness overcome and spread beyond me and seep into others.

One thought I keep going back to when I need to giggle or laugh is my mom’s stylish new tattoo. If you know my mom, you know she absolutely despises tattoos and all things related. She can’t stand any of my tattoos and totally disproves of me getting any more. So, when I heard she had to get little x’s permanently tattooed on her back to line her up during radiation, I literally laughed and laughed. Its little things like this that you have to enjoy when you’re dealing with a shitstorm like cancer.

Ok – enough of the introspective, sullen ramblings. Abha is awake and feeling better! Good vibes! This sunny Saturday calls for our first Pinspiration project. We’ve decided to start off with training wheels, and go for something simple like baking. I’ll leave you with Bill, chewing on a piece of the fence – little darling that he is.

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