Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shoes, glorious shoes

If you like shoes, nothing could be better than finding a beautiful pair on sale and using your birthday discount of 10 percent off on top of it.

Katie and I went to Northampton yesterday. She was looking for a used book, while I was lured by a birthday discount at Strada and one at Skera, both pricey little places. (Guess who was going to spend more money?"

First I went to Strada while she went to The Raven. I immediately saw a pair of shoes that "spoke to me," and they weren't even black. They are a gray Mary Jane style with little cut-outs in the leather,  a good dress-up shoe for someone like me who doesn't like the more formal strappy kind. And they even had them in my size (11!), which is sometimes hard to find. Sold!

Then I crossed the street to Skera and bought a green patterned jacked with interesting buttons. Katie called it "old lady hip." Thanks for that, Katie.

Let's say this was the end of a week-long birthday celebration. I'm done now. I am very thrifty when it comes to clothes and don't buy anything for a long time, and then when I start I just let loose. It's kind of like staying away from chocolate cake, and then when you take a bite you eat the whole thing.

I have been feeling much more like myself over the past few days. I played tennis on Tuesday, the first time since falling off my bike, and did not get myself in any trouble. Understandably, my tennis was very rusty, and it was nice of everyone to put up with me.

The next day, my arm and legs hurt.

It's almost time to sign up for team tennis. I decided not to play on a team this fall, although I will do the Wednesday night clinic with George and the Friday round robin in Enfield. It's going to take time to get back up to speed. I have broken through my denial and realized that the older you get, it takes longer to recover from injuries.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wonderful Wellfleet

Bracketed by a sunset on the bay and a sunset on the beach, our short but sweet vacation in beautiful Wellfleet was wonderful.

The weather was perfect, and being with all three kids was, as they say, priceless.

Katie and I got there first and, after dinner on Wednesday, went to one of our favorite sunset beaches, South Sunken Meadow in Eastham. As the sun got lower in the sky, people respectfully grew quiet. And when it dropped below the horizon, we shared in a round of applause. We followed the show with ice cream downtown.

Ben and Joe came Thursday. Each morning began with still-native peaches and blueberries plus  muffins that I got from the Flying Fish Bakery. Ben volunteered to go, but I like the trip downtown.

We went to the beach and the bay and, of course, had our traditional dinner at the Beachcomber Restaurant followed by a trip to Race Point Beach in Provincetown to see another sunset and then take a walk through Provincetown.

We saw schools (if that's what they call them) of seals swimming so close to the shore that we could see their whiskered faces bobbing in and out of the water. Fun to watch, but not so great, because they are coming closer to shore to avoid their predators, the sharks, which in turn draws the sharks closer in.

Joe, who is understandably upset by my falls, watched me like a hawk when we walked through Provincetown's busy streets. Step up, step down, step up, step down, he said. At one point when we were all in a gallery, I "escaped" by going out to the street by myself. "Hey, come back here and get back on your leash!" he said. I ultimately just walked along holding his arm, which was comforting because I knew I wouldn't fall.

Here's a photo of the four of us outside the Beachcomber waiting for our table.

And here are Joe, Katie and Ben at Race Point.

The view from the bench.
After Ben and Joe left on Sunday, Katie and I walked across Uncle Tim's Bridge, below, and followed the path along the

marshes to the Bench Book, where visitors write their impressions of this peaceful place.

We sat for a while and soaked it up. We wrote our greetings for this year and then headed back to reality.

Thanks to Diane and David for sharing their beautiful home with us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fenway followup

Well, even though the Red Sox lost to the Angels last night 5-3, it was fun being at Fenway Park with Ben, Joe and Katie.

The team honored Sox legend Johnny Pesky, who died Aug. 13. A ceremony included tributes and reminiscences as photos from his life flashed on the big screen in center field. Each player wore Pesky's number, 6

Meanwhile, I personally invented a new game called "Toss the Cone."

During the game, "the wave" came by and for some reason startled me. I held my ice cream cone up in the air as I tried to catch up with the wave...and tossed it into the air. It landed partly on Ben's leg and partly on the floor.

There's nothing like splattered vanilla-chocolate twist.

After I helped clean up and apologized profusely, I rummaged in my purse, found a Starbucks card for a free coffee, and gave it to him to make amends. You know that if I gave my card away, I must have felt really bad.

Katie and I drove to Wellfleet today, and Ben and Joe are coming tomorrow. We saw a beautiful sunset, ate some fish, and went out for ice cream downtown. As we sat on a bench eating our cones, I held mine up and said how funny it would be if I did the same thing again.

Well, actually, it wouldn't be funny, and luckily, I ate the whole thing

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WEEI interview was fun

From left, Steve Buckley, me, Joe, Katie and Mike Mutnansky
I had a great experience this morning being interviewed by "Mut" ( Mike Mutnansky)  and "Buck" (Steve Buckley) on the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund RadioTelethon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

It's usually Mut and (Lou) Merloni, but Merloni is on vacation this week.

 I have to admit I was really nervous, but Ben, Joe and Katie kept telling me there was nothing to worry about. They were right. The two interviewers were incredibly friendly and warm and asked the right questions for me to be able to tell the "highlights" of my story in 15 minutes. Ben couldn't make it, but Joe and Katie were there, and they talked too.

Of course I talked about how wonderful Dana-Farber has been, and about how when I get asked why I don't get check-ups closer to home, I reply that I like going to Dana-Farber and touching base with my wonderful doctors and nurse practitioner.

They gave me four tickets to tonight's Red Sox game, where Ben will join us.

I'm so relieved that it's over and that tonight it's a time for fun. It would be extra nice if the Red Sox win, but the way things are going, who knows. The last time I watched a Red Sox game with Joe, they won, so maybe I'm good luck!

Monday, August 20, 2012

RadioTelethon here I come

Tomorrow I head to Fenway Park to participate in the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund RadioTelethon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

I'll be interviewed at 11:30 a.m. on the Mutt and Merloni show along with Joe and Katie. You can hear it by tuning to WEEI Sports Radio, 105.5 FM in Western Massachusetts, 93.7 FM/850 AM in the Boston area, or elsewhere.

The hosts will ask me questions about my cancer journey and my treatment at Dana-Farber. It should be easy to talk about the place that saved my life.

That afternoon, we'll meet up with Ben to go to a Red Sox game.

The timing is good, because all my aches and pains have subsided except for occasional twinges in my neck. The past two days, I've been feeling more like myself.

Should be a fun day!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Roger Ebert discusses life after cancer

I have no news except that the pain in my neck is still driving me crazy, and I am planning my days around when I will take oxycodone.

Today I did a phone interview, walked around the lake and drove to Evelyn's Breezy Acres Farm to get some peaches and blueberries. I bought a fresh-baked blueberry pie that I could not resist and am now on my second piece with vanilla ice cream; in my mother's words, it is "to die for." I invited Meryl over to help us eat it, but she couldn't come tonight, and when she gets here tomorrow it might be mostly gone.

If I had taken the oxycodone in the morning, I would have stayed in and around the house all day. I wanted to go out, but by the time I got back in the mid-afternoon it really hurt, so I took the pill, lay down on the couch and, with Joe, watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees. Things could be worse.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to point out an interview I did with Roger Ebert for the summer issue of the magazine Cancer Today. Ebert, who was treated for three different cancers in the last 10 years, had a series of disfiguring facial surgeries and lost his ability to eat, speak or drink.

By e-mail, he answered questions about how he found peace with his appearance and decided to remain a very public figure.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Just lie quietly'

Katie and I were supposed to go to New York Thursday to see Shakespeare in the Park again – or rather Sondheim in the Park since the play is Sondheim's "Into the Woods" – but in a display of common sense that I haven't shown lately, I decided I just wasn't up to it.

My collarbone feels better and so does my knee, but it is still swollen and is obviously not ready for going up and down subway stairs and traipsing through the park. The thing that bothers me most now is my neck, specifically the hole in my neck where the squamous cell cancer was removed last week. It doesn't hurt as much if I look straight ahead, but you can't do that all day.

I called the nurse today to say it still hurts A LOT, and she said that is normal for the location it is in. Whenever you chew, talk or move, the area comes into play. I told her that oxycodone is the only pain reliever I can take and that I hesitate to use it (yesterday I didn't take any), and she said what I already knew, that you have to stay ahead of the pain. So I need to stop fighting it and take the pill.

I am working on a couple of stories, two of which require travel, so I have to figure out how I will time the pill to avoid taking it around the times I need to drive.

My physical therapist said to get in some walking, do some home exercises and even do light weights at the gym, so I need to figure that in too.

When Diane and I were little and we called from our bedroom that we couldn't sleep, our father would often call back, "Just lie quietly." So that's what I have to do now at least some of the time – lie quietly on the couch – even though it is against my nature.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blood, sweat and tears

Yesterday I had the Mohs surgery for the skin cancer on my neck.

The appointment was at 8 a.m. in Boston, so Joe drove me to Margaret's Wednesday afternoon and I spent the night. Margaret drove me downtown yesterday and then Joe picked me up at Dana-Farber, where I had a checkup in the afternoon.

Margaret surprised me with an early birthday party, complete with cake, candles, singing and a present. I was getting a little nervous about the next day, and it was the perfect antidote.

The procedure went well; the doctor got clean margins in the first pass. A nurse patched me up, gave me a bag of gauze pads and supplies for keeping the site clean, and told me a little oozing was normal.

I walked a couple of blocks to get the shuttle from Mass. General to Brigham and Women's and after a short ride set out to walk the few blocks to  Dana-Farber. It was then that I felt something dripping down my neck. I reached up and, looking at my hand, saw blood. I put a gauze pad on and applied pressure, but the blood came right through. I've been pretty stoic about a lot that has happened to me, but this was just too much. The tears started flowing along with the blood. Blood, sweat and tears on Boston streets.

When I got to Dana-Farber and handed my ID card to the check-in person, she didn't blink an eye at the blood. I guess she had seen worse. I walked the short distance to phlebotomy and asked to see a nurse. One came out in a few minutes and took me in. She said the bleeding had basically stopped but added more gauze. Then the phlebotomist cleaned me up like I was a little child. That made me feel better.

All my counts were good, but at 125 and 5'8", I'm still too thin. Such a problem, I know. They want me to try extra-hard to eat high calorie foods. I'm also supposed to keep a calorie log and send it to them. I saw Dr. Alyea and Melissa. They asked me if I was depressed, since weight loss can be a sign of depression. I said I'm depressed now while my injuries keep me from tennis and running. But I felt good back in April when the weight loss started.

With the wad of gauze on my neck, I didn't think I looked very good, so I was happy to hear Dr. Alyea say I look "Fan-tastic."

Meanwhile, on the way home as the numbing medication wore off on my neck, the site of the surgery started to hurt like hell. I guess that's to be expected when you have a little hole in your neck. I didn't have any pain medication with me, and once again, stoicism went out the window. I whimpered like the dog until I got home and took an oxycodone.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good and bad ideas

Good idea: Go to Brueggers in Amherst to get bagels for the weekend, especially since Ben was coming home and he likes bagels for breakfast.

Bad idea: Go across street to chi chi clothing store Zanna while waiting for Brueggers to make poppyseed bagels, look at their sale rack and pick out a dress that they only had in sizes 4 and 10. Brought in the 4, which I knew would be too small while the 10 would be too big.

Encouraged by friendly saleswoman, tried on the 4, which was, of course, way too small, so small that with my fractured collarbone limiting mobility, I couldn't get it off and had to ask saleswomen to lift it off me like I was a child. Look at inside sales rack and wander over to full-price clothing. Drawn to black jacket which fit me perfectly but was expensive, and encouraged by friendly saleswoman bought it, adding to my collection of black jackets, black shoes and black coats.

Bad idea: Went to Whole Foods to exchange protein bars that I didn't like. Wandered around and ended up with way more than I had intended. Tasted gourmet salami on small piece of bread with tomatoes and roasted red pepper with basil. Bought all the fixings and made some for Ben and me. It was delicious but am now wondering what to do with all that salami.

Good idea: Tasted good dessert made with whipped cream, fruit and white cake and did not buy the fixings. Tasted grape-flavored gummy supposed to lead to stress relief. Did not buy a container.

Good idea: Went to Dave's Soda and Pet Food City and bought Maddie a refill on her Snausages, her favorite bedtime treat.

Good idea: Went home, flopped on the couch and iced my knee.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Physical therapy helps

Quote of the day: "There are two kinds of cyclists. Those who crash hard and those who will crash hard."

Mike, my new physical therapist, told me this yesterday after I told him about falling off my bike. He said his orthopedist told it to him after his bike went out from under him and he felt his hip crack. It was broken, leading to a year out of commission. Of course I think he was talking about serious cyclists, not my type of bike rider, and really not everyone falls, but I liked knowing that I was not alone.

Anyway, physical therapy was great and gave me the feeling that I was doing something towards my recovery other than taking lying-on-the-couch pose. First he had me walk across the room to see how I looked (wobbly). He stimulated my knee with little buzzing electrode thingies and put ice on it. Then he gave me what he called "the spa treatment," massaging my leg.

When I walked across the room again, my knee felt better and my gait had improved.

We're going to do two months, twice a week, for exercise and treatment.

I also got the go-ahead to take walks and go to the gym to ride a stationary bicycle on the easiest gear.

However, I didn't feel well today, so I spent most of the day on the couch, sleeping and watching the Olympics. Thank goodness for the Olympics.