Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Produce reports

I felt particularly paranoid about Monday's visit to Boston, probably because my red count had dropped and also because I felt so pokey.

Rational mind knows all the right things to say by now. Paranoid mind thinks the end is near.

The day started out with a comedy of errors. I have been trying for months to see a dermatologist that I have booked, and then unbooked, for various reasons, such as getting caught at Dana Farber for a transfusion and not being able to get to the dermatologist on time.

Monday I was sure all would go well with my 10:15 a.m. appointment, which was a recheck on several weird spots on my face. When I originally had them checked maybe six months ago, the doctor said they were OK. She gave me some cream, but the spots never entirely went away.

The dermatologist is at 850 Boylston Street, right on my way to Dana Farber. I saw 950, then I was in the 700s and going down. I was also in traffic. So I looped back and tried again. Couldn't find 850. Looped again but this time I stopped to call.

It was 10:30. The woman who answered the phone said it's very hard to find because it's tucked back off the street and looks more like the hotel that it used to be than the office building it is now.

By the way, she said, as we were talking someone went into the computer and canceled the appointment. For 15 minutes? When a doctor never takes you on time? Yup, that's their policy. I rescheduled for two weeks.

When I told Dr. Alyea, he sounded surprised. He had never heard of anyone being canceled for 15 minutes. He also wondered if they were actually going to take me on time and guessed that they might keep me for more than 15 minutes. At this point, will I go up to the desk and point it out?

Psssst. Leave earlier! Allow for getting lost! Allow for traffic!

I know, but for me and some other people who've discussed this pattern, a skewed sense of time makes me think I can do more in a period of time than I actually can do. I get a little behind schedule, then I lose my focus and circle around and around looking for things I "need," such as book, water, snack etc.

In any case, I headed down to Dana Farber. I have to admit it was nice to be early for a change.

Generally Alyea said he was pleased with my counts. My white count was stable at a little over 8, and my red count went up to a whopping 26. He said my platelets were up a little too. He didn't tell me the number and I never got around to asking him, mainly because I was enjoying the relief of my reprieve from (imagined) relapse.

I went down to 20 mg. of prednisone, and he said our biggest challenge ahead is balancing this decrease with the need to keep my liver in line. I told him I felt a little strange, and he said that can be a side-effect of getting off prednisone. My body has used it so long as a crutch that now I have to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Finally, the salt. He doubled my blood-pressure medicine, because my BP was pretty high. But unlike most people with high blood-pressure who are told to decrease salt, I have to increase salt intake because my sodium has been low. They really wanted me to get into the normal range, so they prescribed salty snacks and two salt tabs a day. I read on the bottle that you can take five, so I increased it to three a day. Which is when my ankles and feet started swelling up.

The three brought the sodium exactly to the lowest end of normal, 135, but due to the swelling, the kidney doctor said to go back down to two. Which I did, wondering how that was going to work. Monday the sodium was back down again, to 127. Dr. Alyea said to go back to three. Huh? Joe came up with a good idea: alternate two and three every other day. So we'll see.

I felt like celebrating with a Reuben sandwich. Where do these cravings come from?

Anyway, Diane told me of a good deli in Waban, a little town which is also where I get my Starbucks. So I parked at Starbucks, climbed up a little hill to another street, and came upon Barry's, a little Jewish deli. I went in and got my Reuben. It was good but not great, a little two greasy and not enough corned beef. But it did the trick.

I went back across the street for coffee for the road, and I was done. Sort of. The food I eat on clinic day is important. So at the other end, a degree of satisfaction depends on what I find when I stop at Randall's, a built-up farm stand with a bakery, deli and other upscale items.

Strawberries are in their brief local season. I picked up a basket and, like a crazy lady, stood inhaling their fragrance. I also got short cakes and whipped cream. The strawberries are so good, you tend to buy too many of them, but they don't last long. I've tried freezing them, but they never come out well, although they're OK for sticking in the blender.

The blueberries, coming now from New Jersey, are excellent – plump and flavorful – maybe even better than the strawberries.

Peaches are coming from closer than they were – Georgia, I think – but they're never really good until they come from New Jersey in about a month and then from our area after that. The peaches were a disappointment. I took a bite out of one, then another, and they were all mealy. What are you supposed to do? Return a bag full of mealy peaches with one bite out of each? I threw them away.

Finally, there's the cherry problem. I really like cherries, and when we got a batch from the USA (California) a few weeks ago, I was happy. But they were $7.99 a pound. They went down to $4.99, and then a dollar lower. That was low enough to get a small bag. Good, but not great yet. Monday they were back up a dollar. No more cherries for me until the price is more reasonable.

That's OK. I went home and made strawberry shortcake with blueberries. Diane had brought me a similar red, white and blue concoction one July 4 when I was in the hospital. They're such cheerful little things. And since the whipped cream keeps getting absorbed, you can keep reapplying it.

Good stuff.


susiegb said...

Very glad your imaginary relapse was a total figment of your imagination ... :)

And interesting to hear your produce report ... We're on mandarins apples and pears here in Australia, being winter! I'm glad that most fruit is still seasonal and that I have to wait for summer to get peaches and nectarines again! Meaning I guess, that they are not shipped in from other countries, but are grown locally (or at least in Australia!)

Seems more real that way ... :)

Nelle said...

The produce is very expensive this year. There is a local farmers/flea market and my mother gets stuff much cheaper there. It is not as attractive but often as good, sometimes better.
I have noticed recently, that doctors have signs up that if you are beyond fifteen mins. late you miss your appt or if you don't call to cancel, you can be charged for the visit. I am going to two out of network doctors right now. One takes my in network copay for now (40% of her usual fee) and the other make me pay her $100 for the visit. I really can't continue with the one making me give her $100 up front now. IF I get sick again, I will go back to her though. I am still waiting for final bills for my April hospitalization and it will soon be July!

Ann said...

Happy to hear your numbers are good. I felt like the bottom of a well-worn shoe when tapering off steroids. I was sluggish and irritable and had a general sense of malaise. It does pass.

Susan C said...

So much to comment on here. Strawberries are nearly at the end of their season. I think I'll buy a case at Farmers' Market this weekend and gorge on them.

Mourning period for strawberries will be short because the peaches will be at their peak soon.

Good luck making it to the dermatologist next time. Can't believe they canceled you for 15 minutes.

pam said...

Dear Rundrous-Woman,

how about finding via Dr. Alyea another dermatologist? what kind of rubbish is that...

also, no offense, but you and i just do not have a good sense of direction -- i blame this on being new yorkers...when i lived in Rhode Island, people would say, Go East! East? Where's Fifth Avenue?

Also, signage up in New England is not that great, nor is the numbering-system...and finally, with all due respect to that small town in MA, how on earth could a non-new york deli make a good reuben? NE has just got round to bagels, and how are they, anyway?

You continue to heal, wonderful Ronni, riding the waves, and running on dare! xop

Trish said...

I, despite the wearing off of chemo brain, still have a magnetic nose. I can find my way out of a dark paper bag in a city I've been in once. Tho, our local Westfield Shopping Towns confound me to no end so I do sympathize. Do you have a GPS you can use?

They know they are hard to find, you're only 15 minutes late and canceled you? Must not be too busy an office if the doc is THAT close to ontime! I agree, find another doc? Am glad G-d doesn't work on the same plan as that doc! ;-)

As to the produce report...here in NorCal we still have strawberries going like gangbusters---but this year they've been so-so. Out of ~15 weeks of our local CSA box, I've had probably 50 total good strawberries, 50% of what was left was mostly edible, the rest, relegated to smoothie duty or tossed. CSA manager says it's our wacky weather this year (we've had cold and rain very late).

Cherries---on the other hand---we are near THE best places to obtain cherries. If you want a flat shipped to you, let me know, am happy to run over to Olson's or down to Gilroy to grab some (might have to grab a few for us while I'm at it!).

And as I've said before, try not to panic---easy to say when it isn't MY numbers we are talking about. But, panic doesn't help the BP, or the red or white count and the cortisol makes your system go wacky too.