Monday, October 10, 2011

Hospitals and Haircuts

Someone very close to me keeps expressing how he hates hospitals. "Hospitals are where people go to die," he says emphatically. Well, I can't help but thinking that he's 100% wrong. I go to the hospital to live. I spend 4 days out every 2 weeks in the hospital. (That's 28.6% of my time for you bankers). There are a lot of people who go to the hospital and get better. In fairness, I had to make a short stop at NYU ER on Saturday for chemo complications. Everything's fine now, but this was the scariest ER I've been in - and normally ER's make me feel better. So I get why hospitals freak this guy out, but people don't walk into a hospital with the expectation of dying! I'm not dying.

At least, I don't think I am!? On that existential level we're all dying right? None of us know how long we have on this earth, but cancer sometimes makes you feel like death could happen sooner than expected. When I panic about potentially dying I have routine: I tear up a little. I debate calling my doctor's cell phone, which he says is only for emergencies. I decide to call my medically savvy sister instead for a pep talk. She's great at these and probably annoyed when I call her and say "I need that I'm not dying speech again". Then I take an ativan, a wonderful anti-anxiety med, if needed. Lastly, I remind myself that I don't feel like I'm dying and I've got a lot of treatment options. I'm tough and a fighter.

Steve Jobs dying hit me and my mom and sister hard. Here this guy had a lot of treatment options and all the money to throw at the problem and he still died young. I think it's all a matter of when they catch the cancer and luck.

Alright I'm splitting this blog in half. First half sad, second half more fun. First half could go on much longer, but I think you guys get the idea that death scares me and my family, but we have ways of coping that involve more than wine. And that most hospitals other than NYU are good and usually help people even if they are dying. Second half of the blog will be more vain, if possible, than the first half:

I cut my hair shorter. I did this last time I was on chemo and my hair stopped falling out as much. Shorter hair means less weight pulling on my head. So far, I've noticed that my hair hasn't been thinning as much. In reality, it was probably thinning the same amount as any other normal healthy girl. The difference is that I'm neurotically monitoring hair loss. I like it short actually and was leaving it long for our wedding in April. I couldn't take 6 months of being neurotic for one day of pictures with long har. I'll rock the short hair instead.

I've also lost a bunch of weight. (Here's where all the women should stop reading for I fear you may hate me after this. Just keep in mind that I have excruciating pain and that will make you feel better). I've lost 10 lbs between January and July before we went to Italy. That was my goal weight for our trip. Hurray for the first time in my life that I kept my New Year's Resolution. I thought that weight loss was due to portion control - in reality it was probably due to cancer. Cancer eats up glucose (blood sugar). That's why unexplained weight loss is a red flag for cancer. So since I started chemo, over the last 3 treatments, I've lost 6 more pounds.

That's a lot. And we worried. I'll bring it up with my doctor. There's lots of options to get my weight up, including protein shakes or steroid pills. It will be taken care of eventually, but I have to vainly admit:

I look damn good at this weight! I fit into my skinny boots again - which have not been wearable for a year. In fairness, the only reason I had skinny boots in the first place was because cancer dropped my weight down to 98lbs. It was sick. Worked my weight back up to healthy.... and then kept going. Cancer is the best diet plan I'd never recommend. I get to eat all the junk food I want and still lose weight. Before I was diagnosed, I had a goal wedding weight in mind and now I'm 3 lbs away from it. Yay! Vanity! Weight loss is the best side effect out of the bunch. It surely beats out nose bleeds, mouth sores and crippling pain.

Lastly, in this super eclectic blog post, I wanted to give a shout out to the people who don't actually kow me, yet still read this - you know the friends of friends. I've heard from multiple people who've passed the blog along that "my friend loved your blog and thinks you're (pick your adjective: hilarious, inspiring, a turd sandwhich)." I appreciate you guys reading too. I'd hope that people would feel like they could comment or ask questions about stuff they don't understand. Writing this blog has been a surprisingly rewarding activity for me. When I feel like I'm in a sea of "to do" lists that I don't want to do, the one life vest is blog posting. (Look I threw in a horrible analogy. Today, I'm a real blogger.) It's a way for me to pay it forward for everyone who's been so nice to me. I'm assuming that most of the readers will have to deal with someone in their life having medical health problems - so the more information I can give now, the better prepared you'll all being going forward. Think of this as cancer 101 and you all get gold stars for reading. Thanks.


  1. Weight loss is a fun side effect! Of course, as with all things... in moderation. This "person" and his view on hospitals, he's clearly led a wonderfully sheltered life full of healthy people. I think I could have had the same view up until about 3 years ago... then I was in the hospital visiting more people that I care to remember. And they are all still here! Definitely not just a place to go to die.

    You go there to let those cancer killing poisons do their thing! Here's hoping the side effects go easy on you this time.


  2. Of course you're tough and a fighter! And you know, you still will have a TON of pretty options with shorter hair for the wedding!!

  3. Your shorter hair is lovely....just remember nothing can keep a strong woman down who has the love and support of so many friends and family.

    Joy Mislevy