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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mom Update

I have so many online friends and family that I gave in and decided to do a full update on my blog instead of rewriting it several places.

For those of you who don't know, my mom was diagnosed with Stage III non-Hodgkins lymphoma on Friday, which is cancer of the lymph nodes. She has one cluster around the bile duct, which was choking the flow of bile from the gallbladder. There is a second cluster near her lungs, which is not causing any major problems right now. (Except that, well, it's cancer…) Her prognosis is good.

She is a cashier at a Publix grocery store near her home. Last Monday, she went to work with a slightly sallow complexion and came home very yellow. My brother took her to the doctor, and they scheduled her to come back for additional tests on Wednesday.

By Wednesday, she was golden yellow, almost orange. She was tested, then sent to two other doctors for tests. The third doctor wanted to send her straight to the emergency room, but she had driven herself. She talked the doctor into letting her go home, take care of my ninety-two-year-old grandmother, and have my brother drive her to the hospital as soon as he got home.

At the hospital, the barrage of tests began. The extreme jaundice was a pretty good clue that something was wrong with the gallbladder. They stuck her so many times that by Saturday the inside of her left elbow was purple and sunken, and they were no longer able to take blood from either elbow and were moving on to sticking smaller vessels. Did I mention my mom has a major fear of needles?)

At first they thought she had hepatitis, but that turned out to be a false positive. Since my grandmother is so old and my sister is pregnant, we're especially thankful that was not the case. My mom would have been so depressed if she couldn't be around her daughter while she was pregnant with my mom's first grandchild! (My sis is having a boy.)

Friday they diagnosed the cancer: twelve lymph nodes in two places, I believe. They did surgery to put a stent in to allow the gall bladder to drain. I think this was the worst part of it for my mom: she was awake for the procedure, which took over three hours instead of the usual forty-five minutes. And despite what the doctors said during the procedure, she remembers all of it. (Which is ironic, considering that the overload of bilirubin in her body and the medications are temporarily interfering with her short-term memory and ability to concentrate.) They also did a biopsy of a lymph node under her right arm, but that was fine. They thought they may have to do a lung biopsy, but the CAT scan made that unnecessary.

By Saturday, she was much less yellow, though that is relative. She was still very jaundiced, but she had dropped from twenty-two times the norm to nine. Still lots of medication-induced fogginess, though. Nothing changed Sunday, except that she continued to improve.

On Monday, they put a port in her collarbone and did a bone marrow biopsy a couple of hours later. They also did an echocardiogram, which came back fine. We won't have the results of the bone marrow biopsy, though, for a few more days.

And yesterday she went home. Infection control is a big issue with her stent, so my uncle and brother cleaned and disinfected the entire house. She'll be starting chemo soon; she also has gallstones, but they're going to wait a couple of months on her surgery.

So right now, we're praying for good results on her bone marrow biopsy and making sure she takes it easy. As long as her bone marrow is cancer-free, her prognosis is very good!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Touch That!

I just loves it when Windows tells me, "This folder contains files that keep your system working properly. You should not modify its contents." You have to actually click on the link saying, "Show the contents of this folder" to be able to even view the contents.

And it's my hard drive. C:/. Sigh.

And of course it does the same thing when I go to "Program Files." Heaven forbid if I actually want to, oh, RUN AN APPLICATION. Hello!

Why do we keep giving MS so much of our money, when they treat us like imbeciles? Okay, I can understand protecting your Windows folder. But your HARD DRIVE and the Program Files? That's just idiotic.

I think it's Microsoft's way of denying all responsibility for anything that goes wrong. "Hey, we TOLD you not to modify your hard drive! Now look what you did! No cookie for you." Or, if you're using Internet Explorer, "thousands of cookies for you."

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Dangers of Paranoia

Over the weekend, my husband Dorkelf and I got together with some friends (and friends of friends) at Galactic Quest in Lawrenceville to play some Shadowrun. It was lots of fun, even though my character hasn't really done anything useful yet. (She's a dwarf, and a radical eco shaman. I don't think most dwarves would like her, since they're very pro-technology.)

Dorkelf and I were talking about the campaign, and he said it was "almost as dangerous as Paranoia." I disagree; not a single member of our party died during the first session. That should never be the case in Paranoia!

Other things that won't be likely to happen in our Shadowrun campaign:
  • Being killed by the food dispenser before you leave for your mission briefing

  • An exploding medkit wiping out the entire Troubleshooter party

  • Your electric toothbrush going haywire and drilling through your head

  • R&D experimenting with the food vats and killing an entire sector

I really miss playing Paranoia!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Taking Things for Granted

I've changed vitamins, and these new ones have to be taken with a meal. Since I eat breakfast at my desk before work, I have to take them to work. So when I grabbed the vitamins, I headed over a couple of aisles to pick up a pill case…and found myself facing an astounding array of gadgets and organizers. All I could do was stare. Some of the cases were huge things, probably 8" by 10", and had four compartments for each day. Four per day.

It made me so grateful! Yes, I have a few health issues: I have scoliosis, rosacea, and keratosis pilaris. I also have sensitive skin. But you know what? I'm healthy. Yes, my vision is so bad that I live in a world of very fuzzy blobs without my contacts.

But I'm healthy.

I do not have an army of medicine bottles populating my bathroom; my days are not regulated by medications. I do not have to plan my life around doctors' appointments.

I'm healthy. And I'm thankful.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Phantasma Relay for Life

This is a repost from my Relay for Life page. I was surprised how hard it was to write it. Anyway, I've joined the Phantasma team for the Gwinnett County, Georgia Relay for Life, a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society. Phastasma is being captained by Ishy, and is being coordinated by TechnoChicks.

Here's why I'm doing Relay for Life. I'm not begging for money here; this is only intended to get people thinking.

Why Relay for Life?

Days before my wedding in 1996, my grandmother's younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither she nor my Aunt Odette could be there when I was married. Aunt Dot was a widow: she lost my Uncle Joe to lung cancer a few years earlier. Her cancer did finally go into remission, but returned with a vengeance. We thought she had beaten it, but this time her brain, liver, and breasts were all affected, and she died soon after her initial collapse. I still remember the shock when my sister and brother told me; I was numb for days.

Then, just a few years ago, my grandmother came to visit us for Christmas. The day after Christmas, she said the words you never want to hear: "I have cancer." Grandma Lucy was a strong woman who was healthy her whole life, a woman who went on a mission trip to Romania working with orphans and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land after my grandfather died. How could such a woman have cancer?

She did, though: breast cancer, just like her sister. I thank God that my aunt, uncle, and cousins were able to move her to Pennsylvania and care for her until her death, surrounding her with the love of family and giving my cousins the chance to know her as I did.

I've known so many people who have struggled with cancer; too many of them have lost their fight. As a teenager, I watched my neighbor Betty die of lung cancer. Just a year ago this month, my friend Lisa had breast cancer surgery. Lisa's doing great, but while she was fighting breast cancer, her mom lost her own battle with breast cancer.

And if not for the grace of God and the miracles of medical science, I would never have met Michelle, a wonderful woman and one of my closest friends, a thyroid cancer survivor.

I want to see an end to cancer during my lifetime; I don't want the threat of cancer looming over the next generation. By participating in Relay for Life, I have an opportunity to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and support the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission.