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Category Archives: strength

All the colors (pic heavy b/c yeah)

So here’s the thing. I went into the salon and said, “no yellow and no orange” and had given them an “inspiration” photo which I think they must have misplaced. But truthfully, I told the stylist to do what she thought would look awesome, but that I wanted purple and blue to be the base colors.

I got some purple (in some lights) but not as much blue as I wanted. Beyond that, the stylist really went gung ho on my hair. Other stylists kept stopping to watch, and one who went home before we were done made my stylist promise to get pictures and put them on instagram. Ya’ll are gonna see more of me than you ever have (don’t be dirty!) in this here post.

So for comparison, here’s my hair under normal recent circumstances.

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I had some color done last January and that shit just hung on for dear life. It really didn’t look too bad, but you can see it was growing out. It was red, so the stylist was worried about some warm orange tones sticking around even after the “lift” procedure.

Step one…I call this “Foil and Plastic Nightmare”

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It was hot as shit under those plastic sheets and those foils. And then THIS nightmare happened…

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I had no idea this is what would happen. I seriously sent this to Hub while I was in the chair saying, “Who am I and what am I doing here?” His response was “uh, okay…” I walked into the salon at 9am. By the time they’d washed and toned and washed this mess, it was about noon. My ass hurt so bad from sitting in that chair, I can’t even…

Then I got the goods… (I wish I had taken pictures of the colors in the bowls, but alas, I did not.) This was about the time other stylists started stopping by the chair to watch the painting. Every now and then one of them would walk by and go “oh yeah!” or “so cool!” or whathaveyou. It was weird.

That’s some shit going on there. At this point, my butt hurt so much I actually got up from the salon chair and was walking around aimlessly. I was pacing around in the front area and a poor woman came out of the salon area to pay and I think I scared her. She jumped and sort of giggled, then ran to the desk to pay. So then I sat on the cushy sofa in the front waiting area while I ate some crackers I had brought along. Shortly thereafter, the stylist came to check on me and we headed back to wash out the colors. Oh, the colors! I got a wash and a special deep conditioning and a scaaaaaaaaalp massage. Then back to the chair. She did a quick trim (I only wanted a trim), showing her assistant how she was handling the cut (which I had thought she was going to do in layers but I don’t think she did).

I wish I had pictures of this, but it was now 1pm and my stylist had another appointment at 1:30. So she pulled in her assistant and the TWO of them started drying my hair at the same time. One yanking one direction, the other yanking the other direction. And as my hair is drying, they both start grinning and pointing at different sections of the hair and I’m like WTF, just show me already! So my stylist laughed and they just kept going. Big round brushs twirling, yanking, hot air. It was quite the show. Then they took a picture with my hair straight.

Brace yo-selves…

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That is some kind of sumpthin’ right thar!

I sort of wanted to cry a little. It was so crazy. I’m so not a crazy person. But this was so crazy.

My stylist had to get to her other client, so she left me with her assistant because I didn’t want to leave with straight hair. The assistant went to work with a big barrel curling iron and as she’s curling my hair she’s muttering, “so jealous, dammit. I want this hair so bad.” I told her I was sorry but it was attached to my head. She told me she was going to get the stylist to do it to her because it was so fun. So the curl is done and the assistant drags me out in front of the salon to take pictures for their instagram. Then she took a few shots with my phone.

One more time, Effie…

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So there’s that.

Now, for more real-life photos…

One of the neat things? She did a bunch of teal and magenta shit underneath, so when I put my hair up, you can see all the more vibrant colors. Also, depending on the light, my hair looks like different colors (you can kinda see that in the pictures). And lastly, as it fades, I’ll get kind of a new set of colors, which will be interesting. Sorry for all the blobby white bits…you  know how I feel about privacy. Although, shit, if you see me on the street at this point you might recognize me from the cray-cray hair. Oh well… LOL

So after all was done, I paid up (holy shit did I pay) and after more compliments from the front desk staff, I went out to my car. I locked myself in, picked up my phone and texted Hub… “You’re going to flip your shit!”

Predictably, because my husband loves me, he told me how amazing my hair looked when I got home. He’s kind of a sweetheart like that.

I think, should I get this touched up in a few months, I’d opt for more blue. I like the blue areas a lot. I really would like more of my hair to look like the underside…but there’s always next time.

Also, I left the salon at 2pm. No joke, from 9am to 2pm. My stylist rocked, and she earned her money for sure.

If I had a mic, I’d drop it. I’m all done.

(edited to add a link to the hairy update)

 

 

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Another detour

This trip has been exhausting and I haven’t really even left my house. Technically, I did the three hour tour, but otherwise I’ve spent most of my time housebound. Not to say I’ve been immobile because my anxiety over a blood clot has not allowed that. But walking around the first floor of my house (with Butthead following me around) is not exactly doing much of anything. I have otherwise read, watched television, or played Two Dots on Hub’s iPad.

I did make another detour. Sunday I was feeling pain in the back/side of my left calf. I was trying not to be too concerned about it, but not succeeding very well. By Sunday night, I was unable to sleep because of the fear of a blood clot. My legs have been bothering me a lot (walking around in my “house slippers” has probably not been the best idea), in all areas, mostly due to my chronic myofascial pain. But this pain I was having in my left calf felt different. It was a burning, stabbing feeling. I saw no redness, no swelling, found no heat on the skin, but I knew not all those things had to be present for it to be a blood clot. Monday morning, Hub was supposed to go to work but I made him stay home and in turn he made me call the surgeon’s office. I was considering the ER to have them ultrasound my leg, but Hub didn’t want to sit there for ten hours waiting to be seen if we didn’t have to.

So I called the doctor’s office and left a voice mail. One of the nurses called me back (they’ve all been very nice, despite me feeling like a whiny baby) and told me she’d write me a referral for a doppler sonogram of my leg and email it to me. I had to find a radiology center to go to on my own, since we’re in completely different counties. So I called the local imaging center nearby and the nice scheduling person got me in that afternoon. I went to the appointment and they took me only about ten minutes late. But the lady doing my doppler sonogram ultrasound thingy was not very nice. She seemed annoyed to be dealing with me and despite me attempting to be nice (as my heart pounded and my PVCs bumped in my chest), she had no interest in returning the favor. I’m not saying she was mean, but she certainly had no interest in being kind or compassionate. Hub reminds me later that it could have been anything–an argument with a coworker, a crappy boss, a sick child at home–but all I knew at the time was that it felt very uncomfortable and I worried whether she was really doing the ultrasound properly.

I asked politely if she could tell me anything and she said no, that they’d send the results over to my doctor’s office later that afternoon (it was 3pm by the time I left). I went home and tried not to cry, but trying to convince myself that if there was some huge blood clot, they’d be required to send me to the ER without delay. So I waited for my doctor’s office to call…and I waited…and I waited. And the office closed. And I spent the evening bound up in PVCs and fear, repeatedly looking at my calf and waiting for some sign of swelling or heat or redness.

Tuesday morning before I even got out of bed, I asked Hub for my laptop and I logged into my email to see if there was an email from the doctor’s office, but nothing. On a prayer, I signed into their healthcare portal and found the test results sitting there (they hadn’t been there the day before). There was a single sentence from the doctor’s office saying “tests came back normal”, but I opened the report anyone to read it carefully. Beyond it saying the report indicating they saw nothing abnormal, they did indicate the test was limited because of my “body habitus”. Meaning, I was too overweight for them to perform the test appropriately. I’ve have ultrasounds of my heart, of my stomach, of my pelvis and I’ve read EVERY SINGLE REPORT and never seen that phrase written before. Are my legs heavy? Yep, they are, and I am well aware of that issue. But what does that have to do with the work they’re performing? There’s no more fat on my legs than there is on my stomach, so I was kind of upset. And I know she pressed really hard on my legs with the ultrasound thingy, because later I was feeling the residual pain from that.

I’m really tired of being anxious about this shit. And I’m tired of the PVCs that are hanging around. My incision is getting slightly better, but there are ends of “fishing wire” sticking out, which I assume are the internal stitches poking through the skin. I’m able to get up and down for the most part, and I finally walked down all our steps today (thank goodness for our elevator) but haven’t walked UP them yet. My legs still hurt and that stabbing burning pain in my calf still comes and goes. On top of all that, my neck is killing me (I can’t turn my head to the right) and my back hurts and my arms are achy. I’m overcompensating for my abdomen with all my other muscles and they’re ALL complaining. I asked the nurse about going to see my massage therapist but she wanted me to wait until after my appointment next week with the surgeon.

Oh, and the headaches are hanging around, which is very frustrating. They feel like pressure headaches and I haven’t been able to get relief from them for a couple of days. That, too, makes me nervous.

Positive note, I did go with Mom to her radiation appointment today. Unfortunately, while she was in her treatment my stomach decided to be unhappy, but I managed and made it back home to rest. I had a little trouble getting into and out of their big SUV, but I didn’t injure anything, so I guess that’s good. Friday I go to see T, but I don’t think I’m ready to drive yet, so Hub is going to take me.

This has been so difficult. Even thinking I would have trouble after the surgery, I wasn’t really prepared to deal with all of this. I hope it ends up being worth it…not that I can go back anyway. I wish I knew when I’ll be able to get past these concerns over blood clots. And also, making myself go through this sort of “exposure therapy” was really rotten. I don’t like it at all.

 

 

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Finding strength

My mom came home the other day and brought me this. The stone has a tiny little air plant in it. Something I can’t kill, supposedly. We’ll see about that…

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I spent the last couple of days looking for stones that I could use on the day of surgery. I told T in our last session that I was struggling with the habit of needing to write letters to Hub and my parents before my surgery (I used to write letters to Hub when my health anxiety told me I was dying). Not only was I wanting to say things that I might not feel they hear from me enough, but I also wanted them to have something to hold onto and to be able to reread words I had written just for them. I also started telling her I wanted my husband to not run away or close off from my family, because not only would they need him if something happened to me, but HE would need THEM. And T immediately caught me and reminded me that I was trying to control a situation that was not of my control. She handed me a black, shiny rock that she always has sitting on her table in her office (for people to fiddle with) and told me to look at it in my hand. I stared at it hard, but to me it was just a rock in my hand. Then T told me that it represented control, which is generally a false feeling. Then she told me to open my hand and let the rock fall to the ground. I was letting go of control. I got the idea.

So I wanted to get some stones that said “Trust” to give to the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the OR nurse, so I could watch myself giving my trust to those people. To reduce my anxiety and my need to control things. But none of the stores I went to had stones with ANY writing on them. I tried to explain to my mother what I wanted, but she didn’t quite understand. She brought me the little gift above, which does its own trick for me, even though I can’t take it with me to the hospital. Right now it’s sitting on the ledge next to my recliner, right in my view. I like it a lot.

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I went walking around my yard yesterday afternoon trying to find any stone I could clean and write on. I found a couple, but not exactly what I wanted. I’ll go trolling through Hub’s stuff later to see if I can find something that will work, as he often uses stones (usually glass, though) for some of his gaming.

The hospital called yesterday to interview me over the phone before surgery. You know, asking all the questions they need to know…allergies, medical history, etc. It was a little more real after that…and in fact I ended up crying last night at a rather inopportune time. I think it sort of all hit me and I was feeling overwhelmed. Today, when Mom and I went shopping and to the library, I felt okay. I feel mostly okay now, but starting to feel nervous. I suspect it’s the kind of nervous most anyone would have at the thought of an upcoming surgery. If I weren’t nervous at all, I’d be worrying that I was disassociating from everything. So I’m okay with how I’m feeling. Well, as okay as you can feel when being nervous and waiting for surgery day.

 

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Mowed me a lawn…

Two weeks ago, I wanted to try to trim the grass along our fence because it looked like crap and Hub hates trimming. But I couldn’t use the trimmer, it was too difficult for me. So I asked Hub to do it, and then I asked him to help me learn how to use the riding mower. It’s a zero turn thingy, so it has these two handles that you have to coordinate to keep the mower going straight. I am not coordinated. I can’t drive a stick shift car. But he helped me get it out of the shed, then showed me how to use it. Ya’ll, it was AWESOME. We have a little hill in the back yard, so once I got used to that–i.e. that I wasn’t going to fall over–I would pick up speed to go down the hill. The weather was really nice, sunny and cool with a breeze. And when I hit that hill and picked up speed, it was just fun. Like riding a go-cart. And the mower is LOUD, so I felt very zen-like because I couldn’t hear anything. My thoughts were drowned out. I was concentrating on using the handles to follow my tracks from the previous round, I was feeling the sun and the wind. I was just zoning out and I really felt good. I was tired when I was done from all the bumping and jostling, but it felt like such an accomplishment. I did the back yard, then stopped. Hub did our front yard area (which is really an empty lot that we thought we might parcel off and sell some day) because I didn’t think I could do it all and still be able to function physically the next day.

So today, with the beautiful weather we had, I decided to do the lawn again. Once we got the mower out of the shed, I was off. And it happened again…that zen-ness of just mowing. Noise and wind and going round and round. I decided to go ahead and do the front yard, too. I got it all done without any issues (the first time I mowed I ran into two of our gutters. I mean, I really messed up one gutter and I REALLY knocked over a pipe that goes into the ground from our gutters in another area, but luckily no permanent damage there, so far…) and it felt awesome. I know it’ll all be more difficult over the summer in the heat and the humidity. And realistically, depending on when my hysterectomy is scheduled, I probably won’t be able to mow all summer…but knowing I was able to do it was pretty freaking cool. And knowing I could do something that a) Hub dislikes doing and b) will free up some of his time, which he can then use to do something else I can’t do and c) I didn’t think I could do.

My only concern is what physical after-affects there might be. Controlling the mower is not easy, and that means stress on my arms and shoulders and neck, all of which are weak (and painful) spots for me. The bumping around on the mower isn’t entirely comfortable either, which could affect my back. But we’ll see tomorrow…if there are tears when I can’t get out of bed or move, I’ll know I did too much.

My last visit with T, I told her about the first time I mowed. And that I hiked into our back woods with Hub to put up no trespassing signs (we keep seeing people walking around back there looking for deer antlers, but it’s private property and also…it’s pretty messy. If someone trips over a dead tree and gets hurt, we could be liable…) and not once during the “hike”–which really was more of a walk while avoiding poison ivy and marshy ground–did I worry about getting hurt. Or getting stuck. Or not being able to get back out.

I told T that I’ve been feeling less anxious. It’s a weird feeling because I almost feel unemotional…but not. I don’t spend as much time looking into the future or imagining what might happen. I’m learning to say (and think) that what’s going to happen is going to happen. And that I will deal with (whatever it is) when it is upon me. No point in spending hours obsessing and thinking about my upcoming surgery appointment. When the time is upon me, I’ll work with it. And I told T that it is just strange. She told me that my body is thanking me for the lowered stress and anxiety…and I’m sure it is. All I know is that I still feel weird at the feeling of “calm” that I really can live in.

 

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This body

Last night I was not able to fall asleep, so I started working on my thankfulness list. I don’t do it every night anymore, but I still do it when I need the reminder. Or when I need the distraction. Last night was probably both.

One of the things I decided I was thankful for last night was my body.

This body. The one I’m in right now. The only one I have. The one I claim has rebelled against me for years. That has failed me. Yes, that body.

This body, that is too round, too fleshy, too fat. Too dimply. Too hairy.
This body that requires effort to haul around, with muscles that are too tight, joints that that are too painful.
This body that has acne and scars and rosacea.
This body that has allergies and vertigo, migraines and imbalance.
This body with feet that are too big, ankles that are too chunky, thighs that are too wide. Hips that are too wide. Shoulders that are too wide. Butt that is too big.
This body that has hair that is too coarse, too wavy to be straight, too straight to be curly.
This body that has fingernails with ridges, that split long-wise when you sneeze.
This body that has one patch of skin on one hand that itches unbearably but looks completely normal.
This body that has skin on both hands that are dry and crack and bleed all year ’round, that make people ask me what’s wrong with me.
This body that has one eye that doesn’t move right, so that I can’t see to my left without turning my head.
This body that has saggy arms and saggy jowls.
This body that has a stomach that is too big and sticks out to the front like I’m pregnant, but is narrower on my sides than my hips which means I can never find jeans that fit.
This body that has breasts that sag. That don’t fit into bras properly. That need to have extra padding (that I don’t freaking need) to hide my nipples.
This body that has rolls and creases.
This body that has sebaceous cysts. Sometimes in bad places. Sometimes in REALLY bad places.
This body that has trigger points and muscle spasms.
This body that has tinnitus and ears (and cheeks) that burn and turn red-purple from being flushed for no reason (and/or because of allergies).
This body that has stomach issues. Constipation. Diarrhea, bloating, gas. A bladder that keeps me awake at night after drinking less than 4 ounces of water. Or no water at all. (WTF)
This body that doesn’t allow me to sleep. Or get rest. Or feel refreshed. Or find relaxation.
This body that houses my anxiety and my depression.

This body that allows me to help take care of my parents. My husband. My brothers. My aunts and uncles. My dogs. My friends.
This body that makes soup for my mom that is the only thing she can eat the Monday, Tuesday, and sometimes Wednesday that follows her infusions. That makes ice cream which still tastes good to her even when the chemo messes with her taste buds.
This body that carries me through the day so I can crochet chemo hats for patients who need them.
This body that moves me from place to place. That gives me the ability to raise money for charities that are important to me…charities that bring help and healing to many people.
This body that permitted me to write books that touched other peoples lives.
This body that houses my brain. And my heart. And my soul.

I want to love this body, I really do. I want to ignore all the first list and concentrate on the second smaller list…I’m trying. Some days it’s not so bad. Last night when I was trying to remember to be thankful for this body of mine…in the dark of night when I’m trying to ignore how loud and fast my heart rate feels/sounds, saying how I am appreciative for this body of mine felt worthwhile and important. Today, when I’m standing in front of the mirror and I see my naked body, it’s only the first list that crowds my mind.

Without this body–MY BODY–I am nothing. I need to remember that. I need to love my body no matter its form. BECAUSE of its function.

 

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Taking control

I’ve talked about control before, and how I need to learn to let it go. Control is an illusion, yes?

But I guess this is a different type of control.

Mom had her infusion on the 20th, and since that point has had some up and down days. This past couple of days she’s been feeling okay, but kind of limiting her activities so as not to overdo it on any one day. And of course, with the chemo, comes the hair loss. But for mom, who is 10 days out from her first infusion, the hair loss hasn’t started yet. But her appointment for her wig fitting–sans hair–is in two days. Her hair isn’t even “shedding” yet, but we’re keeping the appointment.

Why?

Mom has plans over the 4th of July weekend, the wig dresser is unavailable after Wednesday of this week, and so we are kind of running out of options. When we talked about this last night, the choices included postponing the wig appointment until next week–which is already busy with three appointments–or going through with the appointment even though her hair is still on her head. I reminded Mom that she IS going to lose her hair, it’s not a question of if but when. And since she has plans for the weekend and wants to not have to worry about “shedding” and or losing her hair the day before (or day of) her plans, why not take control? Why not choose WHEN she loses her hair? Why not tell the stupid chemo FUCK YOU (which I did not say to my mother, obv) and decide when her hair goes. She can’t control the IF, but she can control the WHEN.

Wednesday’s appointment remains, and we’re making it a fun affair by going to lunch before with her long-time friend. And then all of us will tromp to the wig lady’s shop and we’ll laugh (and maybe cry) while Mom gets her head shaved. Then we’ll make her try on ridiculous wigs and take pictures of her, which we won’t share with anyone. Then we’ll get her new wig shaped and styled and we’ll leave. And Mom will be able to take a couple of days to get used to wearing the wig before she goes out over the weekend. And it’ll be done and we’ll take the next step, whatever it is.

Control. In a good way. Who knew?

 

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Ripples

We made it through the orientation session for Mom’s chemo, and then the first infusion itself yesterday. The facility was nice, the nurse was really great, and Mom had no allergic reactions or issues. The worst part was that she was annoyed at having to sit around for so many hours. The infusion center only allowed one person to sit with her at a time, so my father and I swapped out every hour or so. I would sit in the waiting area and he would sit with her. Then when he needed a break, he came to get me and I went and sat with her.

We crocheted, we talked. She played games on her iPad and read her book. We made it through the day with no issues. She had lunch during the infusion, I ate in the waiting room. My dad walked to a restaurant in the main hospital and ate while I stayed with Mom. I brought a ton of things to do–two tablets, my crocheting, my phone–and I kept myself busy. The infusion room were large and I felt like just in our area, there were about 15 people. The infusion center works with all kinds of infusions, not just cancer, so there were all types of people–ages, stages of health, genders. It was surreal, and I felt like I didn’t know whose life I was living. I don’t know how else to explain it, other than I never expected to see my mother sick. And I never expected to sit with her in an infusion center. And I never expected to look at her and SEE my grandmother. All of these things converged on me at once yesterday.

Today I can see the manic side effect in my mother already today from the steroids they gave her pre-chemo. There’s a huge list of side effects for her–including hair loss, of course–that we are trying NOT to anticipate. She’s as prepared as she can be, and from that we are going to take it one day at a time. And deal with what happens on that day without trying to anticipate what will come next…what will get worse or not.

I’m so happy that I’m able to help my parents. But I’m afraid of letting them down if I get sick, or can’t live up to their expectations. I know they would be able to navigate this without me…I’m not so vain to think they can’t handle things. I keep reminding myself that they would be okay, and that I’m going to do the things I can. And let my brothers and others help when they can.

And enjoy the time I’m spending with my parents no matter the situation we’re in at the moment. We can still have fun in the infusion center, so that’s what we’re going to do when we’re there.

I feel rambling. I’m going to stop now.

 

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