Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monday Is D-Day. Or, I Guess, T-Day. UPDATED with Doctor Love!!

On Monday, my no-Tamoxifen trial period ends and I have to decide what to do. I would describe myself as 100 percent on the fence. I know what I want to do, but I also know why I want to do it, and it's a bad reason. My hope is that if I list all the variables here, in order of how annoying they are, a clear direction will emerge.

  • During Tam: I promptly gained 10 pounds within a week of starting the Tam. Then both perimenopause and osteoarthritis came to call, my metabolism slowed and I couldn't do zumba any more, and my weight continued to creep up, up, UP.
  • Month Without Tam: For three weeks and a few days, nothing. This blew my mind — why wouldn't the 10 Tam pounds fall right off? Then a few days ago — presto! My weight dropped five pounds. And I assure you, I have done nothing different, weight-loss-wise. 
(It's hard to write this, but it's true. I have not been the picture of dedication. I have instead been the picture of over-work, over-commitment, and stress. It is . . . not the best time in my life, for many reasons. But that is a different post.) 
In any event, my weight is heading back down again, which feels so good.
(Warning: This paragraph is not for the faint of heart)

No change whatsoever. Things move sluggishly. The "result" is so foul, I can hardly stand myself. I used to have the easiest breeziest poos in the entire world. Tam has wrecked me forever, I fear. 

Fatigue and Weepiness
  • During Tam: I have been exhausted, and everything makes me cry. Now, was this true before April, i.e., when my dad got sick and died? It's hard to remember. In any event . . . 
  • Month Without Tam: No real change in the weepiness. However, my mood is much lighter, possibly because of the cortisone shots in my knees, which, while not removing all knee pain, have made me feel incredibly much better. And lack of pain is a mood-lifter, my friends! You can quote me. And possibly it's psychosomatic: I believed I would feel happier, so I feel happier. 
And also . . . with Tam, I needed to keep track of my adult beverage consumption and stay within seven drinks per week. Without Tam, I can drink myself into oblivion — you know, if I wanted to. And that is the reason I want to stop taking it, which I know is a bad, bad reason. But there it is.

No change. Tam started me on a path, there is no going back. And my main "symptom" (besides slow metabolism) is feeling like I'm about to get my period all the time. Tender boobs, intense emotions, general heaviness — check! All there, all the time. So. Freaking. Fun.

What Does All This Add Up To?
It looks like the only real change is my weight. My change in mood is likely influenced by many variables, not just the Tam. However, my doctor said I could take one more month off if I was still on the fence, and that's what I'm inclined to do. December can be a tough stressy month as it is, and I also have a TON of work scheduled, in addition to the Christmas hoopla. (And I am the driver of the Christmas Hoopla Bus, so it's best to have me at peak performance levels.)

I will resume the Tam in January, unless I feel dramatically better in December. And if so, then, yay! And I'll reconsider my decision then.

OK! It's good to have that decided. I will write to my doctor now . . . and then get back to work. And probably cry a little, you know, just because.

— Lady C, woman of resolution


I wrote to my awesome Cancer Prevention Doc, basically summarizing the above, and this was her response:
I am so glad you are feeling better! This plan sounds fine. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year, and let's touch base afterward to see what you want to do. 
She is da bomb!

In other news, I subbed yesterday, and my knees were killing me by the end of the day, despite my supportive footwear. My day ended with Motrin and alternating icepacks. I am much better today.

Now, have I done one second's worth of the physical therapy my orthopedist prescribed? Um, no. Not even one second's worth. I was fooled by how good I felt — but clearly I still need to build up my quad muscles. Today, I promise, I will start.

My day started at 6:15, and I've already taken two children two different places, submitted my timesheet, sent a dozen e-mails, had my car inspected, enjoyed coffee and a Verna's doughnut with Husband, and moved all the donations for my church's Harvest Moon Fair from my basement to the living room. (Next step: car then church then GONE!) It's 9:19, time to start "working," even though I've got a bad headache. But the work is piling up, I need to make a dent in it.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Well, It Is a Day With a "Y" In It

 When you take Tamoxifen, you're supposed to limit yourself to one drink per day (or a max of seven per week).

 It . . . is good that I'm taking a month off from Tamoxifen.

Life is a whirling whirligig of a whirlwind at present, four Chardonnays going in four different directions at all times, with Air Traffic Controller Mommy barely, just barely, keeping all the balls in the air and all the trains running on time. (Let's play Treasure Hunt and find all the metaphors in that sentence, shall we?)

I'm too tired to post anything in real detail, but here are some newsy bits:

After 16 years of carefully easing our way up and down our front steps during the icy season, holding on to nearby bushes for support, we now have railings! And they are gorgeous! And they were relatively cheap!! I am so so SO happy!!!!

(FYI, these are not my steps, but my railings look exactly like this. Well, except not, because I only have three steps. But otherwise, exactly like this.)

I have a "new" (used) car! It is a 2010 Honda Civic with less than 40,000 miles on it, it is sweet and clean and beautiful and drives like a dream, and I have named her Foxy Red:

After spending money on all this, plus a huge chunk of change to rebuild the crumbling retaining wall that runs along my front lawn, we are even broker than usual, and our Home Equity Line of Credit is crying. But! Harvard wants to hire me again, plus I have another job scheduled for next week. All will be well. Probably. Maybe. Most likely.

I can't remember how long ago I colored my hair, but it still looks fabulous!!! I am so happy when I look in the mirror!

I think that's all. Mimosa appears in West Side Story this weekend, I'm on the Make-Up Committee, I have to turn a dozen WASPy tweens into a Hispanic street gang. Me and a mascara wand, we are magic.

I e-mailed Brunie today:

I estimate that I can start drinking in four hours. Is it wrong that I’m timing it practically to the minute at this point?

She replied:

I say any time after noon is fair game drinking wise. Go for it!


It just seems wrong to breathe alcohol into the faces of impressionable Anglo teens. And also, I have to drive back and forth to Watertown. A clear head seems . . . right.

Three more hours. I can wait. (But thanks for pep talk, ENABLER.)


I do what I can to help. And you can just tell the kids, "It's mommy's medicine, and shut up, I know I'm not your mommy! How drunk do you think I am? I'm GLAD I'm not your mommy. If I were your mommy, I'd slap that snotty look off your face right now! Now get over here so I can make you a Mexican or whatever."

Three hours, good luck!

I'm home now, and sippin' some of the sweet stuff. And it's goin' down gooooooood.

Bath time! Yes, at 6:40 p.m. I'm living large!


— Lady C

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Can't Think of a Title

Brunie and I were talking about getting together on Tuesday night, but after Errand # 2,019 early in the day, I began to fade.

I e-mailed her:
Check with me again later in the day, maybe I’ll have a second wind. (A mighty wind! It’s blowing you and me!) 

I have to go back to the bank before then, though, because Smarty Bank Lady gave me a form that I wasn’t supposed to take with me.

How I love incompetency. How refreshing and inspiring I find it. How I look forward to toasting SBL with my first drink of the day.

Brunie wrote:
The first drink of the day wasn't imbibed before 12:30? You're doing GREAT!

I said:
Only because I was still at the bank.  Clearly I need a flask. A discreet flask that looks like a lipstick, I think.

Well, looky what came in the mail today!


My girl Brunie — she awesome.

So here I am, two weeks off the Tam, waiting for the 10 pounds that fell right on to fall right off, my digestive system to right itself, and my mood to dramatically lighten, lessen, and otherwise shape up.

. . . .

I have nothing to report. Either (1) it wasn't the Tam causing all these problems or (2) the Tam has PERMANENTLY RUINED ME. I bet you can guess which one I think it is.

Today's million errands also included a cortisone shot in each knee — and I have a new nominee for the lowest rung on the ladder to happiness, believe me. I hope and expect that my knees will feel terrific and zumba-ready soon, but to quote from the handout I was sent home with:
When the novacaine wears off, the area where the shot was given may be quite sore and you may experience pain to the same degree that you had before your injection. This may last 1–2 days and then gradually diminish.
Both knees hurt like blazes. Time to lie on the couch with ice packs, swilling Motrin and watching Jeopardy. And "supervising" Li'l Martini as he packs for a weekend away with his LARP buddies. I'm not sure which I "love" more — packing myself, or being responsible for someone else's packing.

Jeopardy will be a good distraction.

Ooh, and maybe I'll play with my flask.

— Lady C

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Day at a Time Takes Freaking Forever

So much going on! This weekend I was a master of accomplishment, checking items off my to-do list right and left. Half my basement papers are filed! Estimates for porch railings are flying into my Inbox! I wrote an article for the church newsletter, read this week's submissions for my writers group, made pumpkin brownies with the aging can of pumpkin in my fridge! I called, I wrote, I went Halloween shopping with my son (we needed face paint for his disgusting costume, and pumpkins for carving, which turned out to be surprisingly challenging! But we found what we wanted at Wilson Farms, plus some hot-out-of-the-fryer cider doughnuts, a highlight of this glorious season).

(I'll try to remember to take a picture of our jack-o'-lanterns before the slutty squirrels have their way with them. They turned out super cute!)

A few updates and newsy bits:

  • It's my fifth day off the Tam. I'm in a supremely good mood, but can we attribute that to being Tam-free? or getting stuff done, which I LOVE? or the gorgeous weather? or my knees hurting less today? I'm still weepy, the scale needle hasn't budged, and my digestive cycle is a thing of woe. Progress? I dunno. Plus I have an exciting new ailment: ulnar nerve entrapment, caused by excessive computer work! Awesome. 
  • I'm getting x-rays on both knees on Friday, and I have an appointment with an orthopedist on November 6. I am so hopeful that something can be done and I can be pain free. And return to zumba!!
  • Yesterday was the birthday of my darling friend Zanzibar! Happy belated birthday, dear friend. I am delighted to celebrate the fact of your birth.
  • I have found the yummiest way to cook vegetables! The Pioneer Woman inspired me. Usually I make fun of her recipes ("This is so delicious, and all you need is a pound of butter, three cups of sour cream, and a block of cheese!") but this one is actually healthy. She says, Mix your seasonal vegetables! So instead of a big pan of starchy roasted roots (turnips, beets, squash — all of which I like, but it does get kinda . . . old), I added mushrooms, onions, red peppers, asparagus, and lots of sliced fresh garlic, and sprinkled everything with my favorite J. Lee Roy seasoning plus salt and pepper, and roasted two trays (the other secret is to spread everything waaayyyyyy out) at high heat (450 degrees) for 20 minutes. YUM!!! And so pretty, too!
  • Tonight the kids and I are going to see Les Miserables at North Shore Music Theatre, so fun! I've never seen it onstage before. It's been a theater-heavy couple of weeks, for sure, but there is almost nothing I love more than live theater.

I feel like I had other stuff to say, but I need to eat some lunch (potato soup, green salad) and get ready for the long haul to Danvers, Mass. Before we head out, Li'l Martini must see his orthodontist, so he'll be a sad boy with ouchy-tight braces when we hit the road. I am packing soft snacks and Motrin.

I dreamed a dream  . . . that tomorrow my scale will give me some positive freaking reinforcement, for once!

 — Lady C

Friday, October 24, 2014

OK. Breathing Now

Sorry about yesterday's rant. I dunno . . . I just dropped my basket briefly, I guess. But today is a new day (without any mistakes in it, so far! except that Husband forgot to put a bag in the kitchen trash can last night, and my idiot children blithely poured their trash into a naked trash can — but guess whose problem this is not?) (and I also had to change the light bulb over the kitchen sink, wayyyyyy up high, which meant standing on a chair, which, with my bum knees, was quite the comedy of errors) (and aren't those weirdo twisty light bulbs supposed to last, like, a lifetime?? Mine burn out all the time. What the heck??) . . .

. . . and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

Yesterday I met with my cancer-prevention doc, and she looked at my medical record and said, "So you met with Dr. Dixie [my boob surgeon] last week, she asked you how you're doing on Tam, you said you hate it but the voice of your dead grandmother told you to keep taking it. Would you . . . say that's accurate?"

I said, "Yep."

She said, "Well! Okay, then."

I'm so happy that the voice of my dead grandma is part of my medical record!

I told CP doc all my symptoms and said, "I know we can't really tell what's due to Tam vs. perimenopause vs. knee injury vs. stress vs. grief . . ." and she said, "Maybe we can." She's having me stop taking Tam for a month and keep close track of how I'm feeling (not a problem. I excel at this), and then we'll evaluate:
  • If I'm not significantly better but I note improvement toward the end of the month, she'll give me another month off. 
  • If I'm not significantly better, period, I'll resume my life with Tam, the inscrutable exchange student.
  • If I'm clearly significantly better . . . then I have a hard decision to make: Resume the medicine that's making me miserable, or roll the dice and assume that I won't get breast cancer? (which, if you're keeping track, I might anyway, even if I keep taking the Tam)
I'm thrilled to begin this trial, and I love my doctor for listening to me and totally getting it.

So it's Day 1 of No Tam, and so far I feel . . . really sleepy. I watched How to Get Away with Murder last night, then read a little of Soldier Girls until my eyes closed — but then it took me an hour to fall asleep. And Friday mornings begin at 6:12 a.m., when my kids must arise for Madrigals and Boys Chorus, and I had to put on real clothes today, not just dash out in my nightie, because we were almost out of cream for my coffee. So: yawwwwwwn.

But I have a ton of work to do, so I shall have at it!

Other items of optimism:
  • Tonight Mimosa and I are going to an author reading for two authors/books that we both loved:
  • We'll have dinner at Alta Strada, a yummy Italian restaurant, where our favorite thing is to order small plates of vegetables, salad, and dessert. YUM. I've never taken my girl to an author reading before, and I am very excited.
  • Avenue Q on Saturday night!!!
  • I'm making a deeply concerted effort to leave my inflamed cuticles alone, and they are actually looking pretty good! I feel like I have no control whatsoever over my weight — even when I do everything "right," I still don't necessarily lose a pound. But this is a no-brainer: If I don't pick, my fingers look better. Right now each nail is polished half navy and half emerald, with clear violet glitter over the whole thing, and they look very fabby.
  • Yesterday, as I bemoaned the 173 messages in my Inbox, Writer Jenny promptly e-mailed me with this subject line:
  • My friends, they are wicked funny. And also wicked. I may be dead broke, but I am RICH in FRIENDS.
  • I'm test-driving a new mantra:

Work calls. I shall answer.

— Lady C the dutiful

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Can This Be????

There are 173 messages in my Inbox. One hundred and seventy-three!!! Do I even know 173 people????

Plus, both my knees hurt. HURT!

I get upstairs by crawling, I swear to God. Husband is not much better off. We are spectacles.

I long for jammies, blanky, hot cocoa . . . but it's only 3 p.m.

Just needed to vent.

— Lady C, on the edge


People! People! I'm exhausted!!!!!! Talk amongst yourselves for a while.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Theatah!

Angels in America is one weird-ass play. I think that it's an important play, but when it comes to theatre, I'm more of a Sing About the AIDS Crisis with Rodgers and Hart kinda girl. "Surreal" is not my cuppa.

Having said that, this production was first-rate, and I am very glad I saw it.

And my pal Handsome D was beyond terrific. He plays Belize, a flamboyant nurse who finds himself ministering to Satan himself, Mr. Roy Cohn — which he does with compassion, kindness, and grace. D lights up a stage — it is almost impossible to look at anyone else when he's performing, such is his magnetism as a performer. I've seen him play many characters, and none of them resembled this boa-sporting icon of fabulousness.
Damon Singletary as "Belize" and David Berti as "Roy Cohn" 

The rest of the cast was excellent as well, particularly my old theater buddy Peyton (Pryor), and David Berti, the actor playing Roy Cohn. I told Mr. Berti that while I congratulated him on an excellent performance, I really kind of hated him too for making me have compassion for Roy. Fucking. Cohn.
  • David Berti: He wasn't such a bad guy. He was really misunderstood.
  • Me: What?
  • David Berti: I read his autobiography.
  • Me: Um — he had good things to say about himself? 
  • David Berti: Turns out, he's a fan.
Too funny.

You can read a review here and here.

I went with these beautiful ladies:

Brunie asked me to write up all the funny things that she and I and Mrs. Cynicletary said at dinner and on the drive to the theater and later, when we sat next to Mrs. CrankyPants-BitchFace and her partner, Mr. Placate, but my mind is a perfect blank. I do recall having a glass of wine, or possibly four, but do you understand that is a seven-hour play?? That's, like, five ounces an hour. Or something like that.

(Wow, I haven't been a Math Guide for more than a year, and yet here I am, still making up story problems. I'm a Giver.)

In other news:
  • My knees are still killing me, and everyone asks why I'm limping, even if I feel like I'm walking normally. I'm calling my primary, Dr. Barbie, tomorrow and asking about cortisone shots. Or knee replacement. Or a lobotomy, I don't care at this point.
  • I see my cancer-prevention doc on Thursday, and I will try to get her to pinpoint which of my current challenges (weight gain, fatigue, weepiness, and poo problems) are likely caused by the Tam, which are linked to what seems to be the early menopause brought on by the Tam, and which are likely due to the fact that I'm still mourning my dad. I don't know if she'll be able to tease them apart like that, but that is my goal.
  • With Good Neighbor Anne's encouragement, I made a huge dent in my list of eight hellish tasks. I still haven't sorted my basement files or measured the g-- d--- front steps, but I did everything else. The thing is, though — once you clip your hedges, it's not like they stay clipped. Arggh!!!
  • My daughter has been calm and cheerful, my son is a punk but also loving and affectionate — at moments — I have a hot lunch date with my sweetie-pie husband this Friday, I still have lots of good editing work on my plate, we're seeing Avenue Q this weekend, I did my first subbing job for this school year, which was awesome, and I'm reading two excellent books and have a pile of interesting-looking videos to watch. If Dr. Barbie puts me on bed rest (ha!), I'm golden. Nothin' but good times ahead.
Time to go read some more, have a coffee, watch Jeopardy!, and go to bed early. Night comes early 'round these parts, and I'm happy to succumb.


— Lady C

p.s. Lady Darcy, here's what I just read:


And here's what I'm reading now: