Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 211 Update

I am still puzzled about why I was so tired yesterday, but I was pretty tired even this morning right when I woke up. I had tried to avoid that by getting nine and a half hours of sleep, but even that wasn't enough. Not sure what else I can do; I suspect nothing. Like the leukemia, the fatigue just shows up when it takes the mind to. It will likely leave in its own sweet time.
I did try taking a walk yesterday because that does usually help. I know you'll be surprised to hear that on a day where the trails at PEA were ice, water or mud covered, every single inch unless it was ice and water and mud covered, there was not a single other person out walking on the trails besides Maggie and me. Maggie did meet a dog on the street, a rescue from a high-kill shelter in the south. The woman who had her told me, the shelter said, "She's kind of plain and no one is paying her much attention." Then she said, "I feel like that's the story of my life so I knew she was the dog for me." The dog turns out to be very cute, extremely well behaved and to be friendly with other dogs, not a "plain Jane" at all. Maybe the dog can help the woman see how silly thinking of either of them as "plain" is. As for the attention piece, Maggie and I chatted with them. Perhaps we are chopped liver? I don't know if the walk helped the fatigue piece or not because there is not another version of me that would be even more exhausted without the walk although usually I feel better after walking.
Yesterday's other fun activity was a trip to The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth as one of the things Emily wanted to do before she leaves for school this week. If you've never been there, it's worth a visit next time you're in the SeaCoast for an art event.
A reminder from my front yard of what actual snow looks like. The still blooming pansies are a bonus. Taken at the start of the melt. Now, it's all mud, but the pansies are still blooming.

After doing my NYT puzzles, I often read the news and happened upon the writings of Dana Jennings, a reporter who discovered two years ago he had aggressive prostate cancer, had a radical open prostatectomy and writes occasionally about his recovery. I like his writing and his views and he grew up in the SeaCoast. What really got my attention, however, is that for about one and a half years after his cancer, he wore a buzz cut. He says:
When the cancer was most difficult, right after surgery and during radiation and hormone therapy, the buzz cut helped give me ownership of the disease. It was one of the ways I chose to face this world when I was sick.
I needed the primal ferocity that the buzz cut proclaimed to help keep me going, needed to look like a vintage middle linebacker — Butkus, Nitschke, Huff — as I waltzed and wrestled with cancer. To scare off potential predators, I needed to be a herbivore that looked like a carnivore.
My treatment didn’t make my hair fall out, but I also wore the “three-zero” buzz — it was so short, I felt as if I could strike a match on it — to show solidarity with my sisters and brothers in disease who had no choice about whether they kept their hair.
I am not sure I can articulate as well why I want to keep my hair short now. I feel like it is a reminder of the leukemia, but not a bad reminder. I am hoping it will help me remember the important things I learned without bringing up the unpleasant parts of the experience. There is also a part of me that feels as if growing my hair out as fast as I could (or wearing a wig when there was no hair) was denying that the cancer was there as though it hadn't happened. Since my cancer had nothing visible or palpable and there's not much in the way of surgical scars, the hair is the one physical reminder I have of the leukemia. It is also the only publicly visible one as my port scar is on my upper chest and my bone marrow biopsy scars are on my upper butt. I can imagine some cancer patients being anxious to grow their hair out as quickly as possible, but I also imagine people feeling like they need to be well and thoroughly done with the cancer before they grow their hair again. I wonder if there is a basis in the cancer for when people regrow or who regrows or if it's completely psychological.

As long as we're on the topic of reading recommendations, the 1/10/12 NEJM has a first rate article on "Post Hospital Syndrome--An Acquired, Transient Condition of Generalized Risk" The same journal has a picture of the hugest hernia I have ever seen and a cool case record. Also, an article on B12 deficiency. I am sure you'll be happy to know that my practice with respect to B12 deficiency lines up pretty well with the article's recommendations. I was because I had had to put it together from a whole bunch of different sources. I love their Clinical Practice series.

I am anticipating that I'll be back this evening so I will refrain from wishes right now. I first typed "whishes." I will whish away.

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