Mary Anne Mohanraj

Journal

July 2 -- 6:18 AM

Plan for today: breakfast, get the children off to camp and preschool. Post a recipe to the cookbook club on Patreon, for tangy peppered beef stew (a slightly Sri Lankan version of a regular British beef stew; it's something my mom made, and I find it addictive. Basically peppercorns and vinegar added to the regular stew recipe. Lots of peppercorns, good for chomping on.)

Sign up for SFWA, play an hour of the Email Game (maybe two), as I am really behind right now, and I'd like to get back to inbox zero before the semester starts. (Too bad you can't use it for Facebook messages, also behind on.) Do the Scrivener tutorial and try moving the manuscript over there. Unpack from D.C. trip and do a load of laundry. Move the poor dragon's blood sedum that is now totally buried amidst three clumps of a different plant whose name I'm forgetting.

Figure out what I can cook in advance for Saturday's potluck -- potato salad should keep fine for two days, right? (Samanthi is bringing spicy potatoes, which will be great, but two kinds of potatoes never hurt anyone, and I do love potato salad.) Do I want to make macaroni salad / broccoli salad? Are the kids likely to eat either? Hm. Favorite kid-friendly 4th of July recipes? We have hot dogs already.

All of this contingent on anti-nausea meds being effective. Am reserving the right to ditch it all and nap on the couch watching Doctor Who re-runs if necessary. Or maybe I will try The 100 or Sense8, both of which I've heard good things about. And I have a Diana Gabaldon novel to finish...

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July 2 -- 5:57 AM

Cancer log 89: Okay, so after the first round of chemo yesterday, I was fine for a few hours, and then started feeling quite queasy. I took the milder anti-nausea meds I had on hand, which frankly, didn't help very much. I napped a little, after doing my reading for monthly writing workshop, which did help some. I hosted workshop -- or rather, I half-hosted it, getting through the parts I needed to (with the aid of nibbling crackers) and then passing the hosting over to Kat so I could go upstairs, take the more serious meds, snuggle the children for bedtime, and go to sleep.

On the plus side, workshoppers liked the revised chapters, whee! (My workshop has been very patient with looking at drafts over and over, and I am grateful.) Also on the plus side, the new anti-nausea meds seemed to kick in almost immediately; I was feeling much better by the time I went to sleep. And I woke up this morning still feeling reasonably okay -- a little woozy, perhaps, but my tummy seems semi-stable. I had a couple crackers on my nightstand, and just nibbled one as a precaution before getting up for the day.

This reminds me a lot of the early stages of pregnancy -- a constant, low-level nausea that spiked on occasion. (I know some women have it much worse; my sympathies.) I got through that with the aid of crackers (and oh, I got sick of crackers, but I have a full variety pack, so hopefully that will help), and of course, when you're pregnant, you try to avoid taking anti-nausea meds, and I have no such concerns now. At 9, I get to take the strong meds again, and I'm looking forward to that -- my doctor's approach seems to be to 'squash' the nausea, as she put it, before it really gets going. Sounds good to me.

This has been your morning queasiness report. Hopefully not TMI! :-) It's the main thing on my mind right now. I have three days prescribed of the stronger meds, which suggests that this should ease off by Saturday. Fingers crossed.

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July 1 -- 3:02 PM

Cancer log 88: I'd forgotten how great super-short hair feels. The woman at the salon was hilarious -- I walked in and said I wanted a pixie cut, and she looked at me and asked, "Are you going to cry?" I assured her that I would not cry, but she was only halfway convinced. She held her scissors up to one of my braids and said, "Cut here?" And I said, "Or higher, if you like," and she said, "Okay." Braids below, with a pen for scale. I suppose it's a lot to take off at once, but given that I had hair down past my waist for a decade or so, it doesn't actually feel that dramatic. She eventually got really into the cut, assuring me that even with all the grey (which she repeatedly told me I should dye, because I'm too young to have this much grey, and I'm sure that spiel is not motivated at all by the extra business it would bring her), the new cut was super-sexy. I should keep it like this all the time (which would also mean coming back in for frequent haircuts). She assured me that my husband would love it. I didn't have the heart to tell her that he's only going to get to love it for a couple of weeks, before it all falls out. :-)

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July 1 -- 11:47 AM

Cancer log 87: First and most important, the MRI results came back, and they're very good. The mass that was originally 2.8 cm is now down to .6 x .6 cm. A very favorable response! It's not all gone, but we're progressing well. Next is 8 weeks of another drug cocktail, the more traditional kind of chemo, and then there'll be another MRI before surgery. Hopefully it'll be all gone by then.

I start the new set of drugs today, the AC combo (adriamycin / cyclophosphamide). Trying to figure out what I want to do about my hair; my oncologist told me to expect my hair to fall out, starting in two weeks or so. I asked her if she had any recommendations about chopping it, shaving it right away, etc. She said a lot of patients cut it short initially, and then shave it when it starts really falling out.

Alternatively, patients just shave it, because otherwise they end up with hair shedding all over their house. I think I may go to SuperCuts today and get a $10 short haircut, just for the next few weeks. It's going to be summery and hot here anyway; getting rid of some bulk would be nice. And I think it'll reduce the shock factor for the kids, if I start by cutting it short, let them get used to that first.

Once it's all gone, I'll figure out how I want to deal with it. Probably just a bandana for a few months, to keep my scalp from getting sun-burned. Since I shouldn't be bald for a long time, I can't see spending the money on a real wig. And while I know some people get head tattoos, I don't think that's for me. Maybe henna decoration, but probably not that either. We'll see!

Other than that, the main thing to expect is nausea, but they tell me the anti-nausea meds are very good. I admit to being a bit dubious, but they seem very certain of this. They said the main thing is to take the drugs as soon as I feel even the faintest flutter of nausea, because it's much easier to control it then, rather than trying to control vomiting.

The doctor said to think of it as just a different regimen -- not necessarily easier or harder, better or worse, than the last one. All right then. We'll see how it goes.

As a side note, can I say that I really appreciate the way the nurses fill me in on what to expect? They warned me that the red medicine would turn urine orange -- definitely nice to know that in advance, and not be completely freaked out. And they told me that the current medicine might give me a bit of a sinus headache -- and yes, here it is, right on cue. Very mild, just like I have a cold coming on. For me, it's so much easier, knowing what's coming.

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June 30 -- 8:21 AM

I came home from my trip yesterday, and a) said hello to Kevin, b) had some tea, c) went to the local grocer and got something to curry, d) picked up the kids from camp and preschool, e) snuggled the kids, f) made a curry and some rice for dinner, g) fed the kids, h) ate dinner, i) watched a Doctor Who re-run (Day of the Doctor, one of my favorites), j) picked some flowers from my garden, k) arranged the flowers, l) distributed them around the house, and m) felt properly at home. Tea, curry, family, flowers. And a little Doctor Who. Sounds about right. :-)

Flowers harvested include: various veronicas in pinks and purples, anise hyssop (a new-to-me prairie native), nepeta, clematis, Annabelle hydrangea, monarda / bee balm, and two astilbes.

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