Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day

Today was a great day. I suppose everyone deserves one really great day every four years.

First of all, it was BEAUTIFUL out today. It got up to around 55 degrees. The way the winter has been, it felt like 80 degrees. We actually got to see the sun.

This morning, we celebrated Leap Day by going to Arts and Crafts at my friend Brooke's house, where all the kids made some really hilarious buggy-eyed frog hats. (You know, because frogs leap.) It was one of the cutest crafts we've ever made. Brooke even made frog-themed snacks, such as round, green Rice Krispy treats with Junior Mint eyes. It was very festive morning.

When we got home, there was a big package waiting for me on the doorstep. I had no idea what it was. It was from a woman named Kathy from New Jersey, who I have never met in real life -- only through this blog. Inside were ... TWELVE TEN-OUNCE PACKAGES OF BLACK JELLYBEANS. That's right. How great is that? A lifetime supply of black jellybeans just showed up on my doorstep without warning. Actually, at the rate I go through them, it could be a one-week supply of black jellybeans, but still. That is an awful lot of jellybeans. Thank you, Kathy!

I thought the package of jellybeans was going to be the big highlight of my day. Close, but ... a few hours later, I had my appointment at the Cancer Center. I'd mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my new Dex schedule was going well, but I expected things to start going bad at any time. I was right. Shortly after I posted that, the Dex started to catch up with me again. I've been in complete Dex misery for about a week and a half. It's been a constant, awful roller coaster. On my days off, I feel like I've just been run over by a car. I'm completely exhausted and my brain doesn't work. On my days on, I feel like I want to get in a car and run over somebody else -- that is, if my heart doesn't explode and I don't jump out of my skin first. It got so bad, that last Monday I tried calling Dr. H at the Mayo Clinic to see what I could do about it, only to discover that the Kansas City Cancer Center hasn't been faxing her any of my test results, so she couldn't comment on my case. This was not the news that I wanted, especially while I was all Dexed up. I decided to tough it out until today, and then talk everything over with Dr. GPO.

First of all, Dr. GPO was horrified that no results have been going to Mayo, and he promised to fax off every number immediately and call Dr. H himself.

Next ... and this is probably the greatest news of my WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE:







Dr. GPO told me exactly what I had been thinking: It's true that the cancer isn't gone, but I'm so stable and so healthy overall, that there really is no reason for me to feel so miserable all the time. I will still be taking the Revlimid, so we'll see how that works by itself. If my numbers suddenly take a turn for the worse (and Dr. GPO doesn't think they will), then I'll probably have to get back on the Dex again, but trying out Revlimid alone for two or three months isn't going to kill me. At the very least, I'll be giving my body a little break from the Dex horror.

I don't think I've ever been so happy in my entire life.

All of my other numbers were good. My hemoglobin is hanging in there at 12.1, and everything on my blood count is in the normal range. Dr. GPO went over all of my results from last month; there's one thing he always tests for called Beta-2 Microglobulin. Most myeloma experts say that your Beta-2 level is one of your biggest prognosis indicators. The lower your level, the better your prognosis. Mine has always been within in the normal range, but now it's down to 1.2 (still normal, but very low normal). You want it below 3.0 to still have a "good prognosis". Dr. GPO says mine is the lowest Beta-2 level he's ever seen in a myeloma patient, so he was pretty excited. Me too.

After I danced out of the Cancer Center, I stopped at Hy-Vee to pick up a meal for our neighbor who just had surgery. Whenever I take a meal to someone who is sick or had a baby or whatever, I never actually cook anything: I just pick up a rotisserie chicken and sides at Hy-Vee. I think I'm starting to get a reputation around here as the Hy-Vee Chicken Girl. That's a whole separate blog entry, though. Back to my story: On my way out, I accidentally dropped my big carton of deli green beans all over the ground, and a complete stranger rushed over to help me clean it up. Then the nice deli lady said I could have some new green beans for free.

Let's review: Frog hats, black jellybeans, no more dex, kindly green-bean people.

Greatest day ever.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tom to the rescue!

My friends DeAnna and Karyn, who live in Minneapolis, have two sweet little boys, including 4-year-old Tom. If you'll remember, Tom and WCK are scheduled to be married in about 25 years at the Chapel of Love at the Mall of America. (Reception to be held at the food court overlooking Camp Snoopy, or whatever they're calling the amusement park these days) After I posted about raising money for Jackie Malena and also e-mailed nearly everyone I know, I got this e-mail from DeAnna:

"I visited her website and was horrified, and I don't even know the woman. We have started to do money management with Tom, where every time he gets money, he puts some in an envelope to save, some to spend, and some to share (I think this comes from a website, like, or something). So I told this story to Tom (well, I made it far less sad and frustrating than it actually is: Karen's friend is sick, she has two small kids, and getting well costs a lot of money), and I suggested that maybe he would like to send some of his Share money to the lady to help her get well. He said -- and I quote -- 'Yeah, I would like to help! Because I'm a good helper!' Oh, man. So sweet, but so funny, too. So eventually Tom will send you like $4.81 in an envelope."

Tom is a really good man. I'm so lucky to have him as my son-in-law.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fear of fudge

Most of the time, I believe that WCK not really my child because she is actually a little clone of me. We are alike in so many ways. Then there are days when I believe she is not really my child because we can't possibly be genetically related. Today, for example, she ran away screaming from a free sample of fudge. Fudge. I would take a bath in fudge if I could.

Today's outing with the MOMS Club was a trip to Chip's Chocolate Factory at Crown Center, to be followed by lunch at a train-themed restaurant, where they actually deliver your food on little trains. We are always trying to go to this restaurant, and every time, something prevents us from going. This time, though, we were going to make it after all. I thought it was going to be the MOST. FUN. MORNING. EVER. For $4 a kid, we'd get a candy-making demonstration at the chocolate factory and a goody bag of chocolate to take home. All was well until about five minutes into the demonstration, when the Fudge-Making Guy started tossing liquid fudge dramatically into the air. All of the other kids were enthralled. WCK freaked out.

"WANT TO GO HOME!" she shrieked in the face of the flying fudge. "WANT TO GO HOME!!"

I tried taking her around the chocolate store and distracting her with all of the amazing things in the display cases, including something called "Cheesecake on a Stick". No luck. Then I thought maybe she'd calm down if we went out into the mall area and walked in the hallway for a while. WCK tried to make a mad dash for the car, wanting to get as far away from the fudge as possible. Of course, we couldn't actually go to the car unless we went back to the chocolate factory to retrieve our coats, diaper bag, and, of course, car keys. This sounds very logical, but it isn't really something you can explain to a two-year-old who is lying on the floor of Crown Center screaming because she's afraid she's going to be attacked by fudge.

I finally got her back into the chocolate factory, where the demonstration had ended and Fudge-Making Guy was handing out free samples of fudge. "Ah!" I thought. "A spoonful of fudge will turn her around!"

Nope. WCK shrieked at the fudge as though I were trying to give her rat poison. Anxious tears streamed from her eyes. I hurried up and paid our $4 and got our goody bag (which, fortunately, included a large block of fudge, which I am eating right now to soothe my soul) and high-tailed it out of there. She didn't want to walk. She didn't want to be carried. It was one of those long, scream-filled, stop-to-wrestle-the-two-year-old-every-five-seconds walks back to the car. I didn't think we were going to make it. Finally, we burst out of the doors of Crown Center and into the parking garage.

"THAT WAS FUN!" exclaimed WCK brightly.

Fudge. I need more fudge.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fight for Jackie

Once again, I'm in charge of an effort to raise money for a good cause through the MOMS Club. We recently learned of a local mom named Jackie Malena who is battling a rare form of cancer. She's 32 years old and has two little girls. Her (Evil) insurance company is refusing to pay for treatments, so her friends have set up a fund to raise money for her. For more on Jackie's story, visit You can donate through PayPal on the site or send a check to the address listed there. You can also send money to me, and I can include it with our MOMS Club donation. We're hoping to send our contribution by the end of March.

I really, really want to help, because I know that if our insurance company was refusing to pay for things, we would be out of luck. I either wouldn't be able to afford treatment, or I'd be getting the Old-Fashioned Myeloma treatments -- the kind that give you just, like, three years to live at the most. My Revlimid costs nearly $8,000 for 21 pills. My stem-cell harvest cost $50,000. We pay a $20 co-pay for the Rev, and we didn't pay a cent for the harvest. Insurance even reimbursed us for our lodging costs when we were in Rochester for three weeks. We're really, really, really lucky here.

Now, if insurance wanted to deny me access to the Dex, that would be fine with me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sucking up to the vacuum

I've posted before about WCK's big fear of the vacuum cleaner. A long time ago, she was also afraid of my blow drier. I solved the problem by buying her a teeny tiny pink Disney princess blow drier of her own. This went over very well. Whenever I would dry my hair, she'd stand behind me with her little pink drier and "dry" her own hair, and everything was fine. Now she's gotten used to the big blow drier and doesn't really care.

I thought a similar thing might work with the vacuum. For Christmas, my mom bought WCK a little tiny Hoover Wind Tunnel vacuum. It looks EXACTLY like our real vacuum, only it's about two feet high. Supposedly, if you put some batteries in it, it will make "realistic vacuum noises" and will really pick up dirt. I was excited about the new little vacuum, but WCK was not. She was less than enthusiastic when she opened one of her Christmas presents and found a tiny version of her arch enemy.

"How 'bout a different present?" she said.

When we got home from my parents' house, she demanded that we banish the little vacuum to the closet. She never wanted to see it again.

The vacuum sat in the closet for months. Then, about a week ago, she asked if we could take the little vacuum out of the closet. She didn't want to take it out of the box, or even touch it, but she really wanted to look at it. She was really interested in the fact that there was a little picture of a tornado on the front, "Just like in Wiz Oz!" The tiny-vacuum-in-a-box sat in a corner for several days until the other morning, when she asked if we could take it out of the box. Again, we had to look at it for a while until she worked up the nerve to touch it. Now? It is her FAVORITE. TOY. EVER. She loves to push it around and attach the little tools to the hose. Granted, we have not tried the batteries or the "realistic" noises, but this is huge progress.

And that's not all. Yesterday, she asked me if we could get MOMMY'S vacuum out of the closet. That's right: She wanted the big vacuum. Suddenly she was claiming to "loooooove" the big vacuum, giving the big vacuum hugs and kisses, talking to it, and posing for photos with it. Before her nap yesterday, she had to say goodnight to the vacuum before she would go into her room. If we go upstairs to play, we have to carry the vacuum up there with us. Back downstairs? Bring the vacuum back down.

WCK and the vacuum are in love. They might be getting married soon.

As much as I thought I wanted a WCK-vacuum romance, I'm wondering if I'm really ready for this. If she begins loving the vacuum, I'll no longer have an excuse to not clean the house. I'll actually have to be a hard-working MOMS Club VP and stay late at the meetings and help clean up. Right now, WCK and I usually have to make a mad dash toward the exit when cleanup begins, because there's usually at least one vacuum involved, sometimes an industrial-strength one that is extra scary. I get out of all the work because of my hysterical child. What to do? What to do?

Now that we know that this works, though, I think I'll go out and buy a toy ironing board so I can finally wear some wrinkle-free clothing for a change.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Long Winter

It seems like it's been the longest winter ever. Even the snowman in our front yard can't take it anymore. This morning he collapsed onto the ground, face first, his arms outstretched in desperation, as though he can't live with himself one more minute. It's like he's silently screaming to just melt and get it over with. Of course, when WCK saw him out there, prostrate with grief, she asked if she could give him a kiss and a Band-Aid. You have to go and make everything cute, don't you WCK? Even scenes of bleak mid-winter depression.

Update on my drugs: The nurse at the Cancer Center wasn't concerned about the antibiotics and the Coumadin, since I won't be on the antibiotics very long and I'm not on a very high Coumadin dose and don't actually have a clotting disorder. This means I don't have to go in for extra tests. Woo! It's not that it's an extensive test or anything (just a finger prick); I just don't want to spend extra time hanging out in doctors' offices if I don't have to.

It's supposed to be sub-zero tomorrow. I think I'll go lie down, face first, like the snowman for a while.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Even a stuffy nose takes effort

It turns out the Martian Death Cold is a sinus infection (or, as I would pronounce it lately, si-dus infecdion). I actually had to go to the Regular Doctor (not the Cancer Doctor). I can't remember the last time I went to a Regular Doctor for something other than my yearly physical. Seriously. I think I had a sore throat in 2002. Before that .... chicken pox in 1985? Anyway, whenever I take the Dex, the sinus infection disappears, only to come roaring back the second the Dex wears off. I couldn't breathe all weekend, but I'm fine today. The doctor said, yeah, that makes sense, because steroids reduce inflammation. She then gave me a steroid nasal spray to use on my non-Dex days. More 'roids!! Woo!

She also gave me an antibiotic, but then said I needed to call the Cancer Center about it, because it can interfere with my Coumadin. I might need some extra INR tests this week. I left a message for My Nurse.

I never used to have anything wrong with me ... and now a cold prompts phone calls to numerous medical professionals, and possibly additional blood tests. Bleh.

The one good thing to come out of this: While I was wandering Wal-Mart waiting for my prescription to be ready, I found a buggy-eyed sheep puppet that baas loudly to the tune of "Easter Parade" when you move its mouth. GREATEST!! PUPPET!! EVER!! Of course, I had to snap it up and set it aside for WCK's Easter basket. When I brought it home, Jay said, "Did you buy that for WCK? Or for you?" Um.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shout Hurray! *

* The title of another Mr. Stinky Feet song. It's a sickness.

After a week on the new 12 mg Dex schedule (4 mg on Monday, Wednesday, Friday), I'm happy to report that everything is going really well so far. Every time I take a dose, I get really scared, but there's been no more waking up to drink Diet Coke and write on the blog at 3 a.m. It's like the first time your newborn sleeps through the night: You go to bed expecting to be awake a few hours later, and instead you wake up in the morning, feeling completely stunned, yet feeling rested in what feels like the first time in forever. I'm still trying to get over the Martian Death Cold that I caught from WCK, and the Dex actually makes the cold symptoms go away. On the nights that I take it, I can actually breathe at night, so I actually have been sleeping better when I'm on the Dex.

I shouldn't get too cocky, though. Whenever my Dex dose gets changed, I do pretty well for about a month to six weeks or so, and then it all goes bad again. This week was good, though. One week at a time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A very stinky Valentine's Day

As I've mentioned before, WCK and I are huge fans of local children's performer Mr. Stinky Feet. WCK received her first Mr. Stinky Feet CD from Santa at Christmas, and I was very excited about it. Finally, something new and interesting to listen to in the car. We'd spent about a year listening to the same three Sesame Street CDs and the Wizard of Oz soundtrack. You know that when I'M getting tired of the Wizard of Oz soundtrack, it's been going on too long.

At first, it was great. The songs were upbeat and funny. WCK loved it. Mr. Stinky Feet became the only thing she'd listen to in the car.

By New Year's, Mr. Stinky Feet had invaded my brain. It doesn't help that most Mr. Stinky Feet songs tend to be incredibly repetitive and set up residence in one's brain very easily. There is always a Mr. Stinky Feet song going on in the background of my mind, night and day, no matter what I am doing. Even as I type this, my mind is quietly going:

What do you want for lunch?
What do you want for lunch?
What do you want for lunch?
And jelly -- oooh, oooh!
And jelly -- oooh, oooh!
And jelly -- oooh, oooh, oooooooh!

Or ...

Goin' on a road trip
Goin on a road trip
Not a fancy boat trip
Goin' on a road triiii-hip
Goin' on a road trip
Goin on a road trip
Oh, won't you please come along?

I've just sort of accepted it. There's not a lot I can do, except ... buy a new Mr. Stinky Feet CD, so I have a bigger list of songs for my brain to choose from. I gave WCK the new CD yesterday for Valentine's Day, but really it was a little gift to myself. The new CD has "Red Wagon", and -- I'm not exaggerating -- this song TOTALLY, TOTALLY ROCKS, people.

Maybe I need professional help. I'd think it over, but my brain is too busy going:

What color is your mini-van?
What color? What color?
What color is your mini-van?
What color? What color?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

There's something caught in my dentures

Part One of this story: We always enjoy going to our church's annual fish fry on Fridays during Lent. I admit that the fish fry doesn't make a lot of sense from a religious perspective. I mean, it's hardly a sacrificial, solemn observance of Lent, seeing as it involves piles of fried shrimp, french fries, chocolate cake, and beer. If you have to dine out in a church gymnasium and use plastic forks to eat food from cafeteria trays with a bunch of senior citizens, this is the place to be. It started last night, but we decided to hold off on going until later in the season, because the fish fry usually gets pretty crowded and wild on the first Friday of Lent. Well, as wild as a church fish fry can get.

Part Two of this story: Jay hurt his back shoveling snow a few days ago and has been shuffling around like a little old man. Then there's me, with my millions of drugs and sleeping problems and 70-year-old bone marrow. "What are we?" said Jay. "Little old people? Pretty soon our only excitement will be things like the church fish fry."

"Wait a minute," I reminded him, "last night we decided not to go to the fish fry because it would be too exciting for us."

We thought about this for a minute.

"We can't tell anyone about this," Jay said.

"I'll put it on the blog," I said.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I choo, choo, choose you!

This morning, WCK and I went to a Valentine party. This is the third year that we've been going to Valentine parties, but this is the first time she really got into it and understood that she'd be giving cards to all of her friends. She even helped me make muffins to take to the party. She had a great time dropping the cards into each "mailbox" and then looking at the Valentines she received.

I've looked through them myself, and, if you ask me, I think today's Valentine writers are slipping. I don't see any of the delicious puns that I remember the last time I got Valentines, which was probably, like, 1986. I didn't see a single one with a picture of a bee on it that said, "Let's BEE friends." Yes, many of them come with temporary tattoos or candy or pencils, some of them have life-affirming messages ("I like you for you, Valentine!") but where is the wit, Valentine writers? Where is the wit?

Maybe I should be a Valentine writer when I grow up.

At the party, we also had a chance to do a craft where the kids painted their hands and made handprints on a pair of construction-paper mittens. WCK, who can't take it when a microscopic speck of food lands on her sippy cup, who cries out in despair when another kid has a glob of jelly on his/her cheek, wanted NOTHING to do with the painting of the hands. We stuck stickers on the mittens instead.

On to another topic: My sister wanted to know more about the scene from the Dex Theme Song that I posted earlier. It's from a movie called Babes in Arms. I haven't seen this movie in years, but it is on one of the DVDs in the Garland/Rooney Collection, which I got for Christmas and have been slowly making my way through. Once I get to this movie, I will update you all on the plot. My guess, though, is that Mickey and Judy are trying to put on a show to raise money for a worthy cause (homeless orphans, a school trip, a kid with a broken arm) and/or because Mickey accidentally screwed something up with his high-spiritedness and now owes money to someone. I can say this with confidence, because this is the plot of 99.9 percent of all Garland/Rooney movies. You have to love them, though. Watching them always makes me crave root beer floats.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Point one

And this month's M-spike is ...


Last month it was 2.3. Bleh.

I guess it gives me a mild psychological boost that it did go down, although it only went down .1. I try not to remind myself that back in the olden times, when my M-spike kept going up and it would go up .1, Dr. H would reassure me that .1 was really meaningless. For example, when it went from 3.6 to 3.7, she said, "Oh, that's pretty much the exact same number. You're stable." And I'd be convinced that it wasn't really going up.

I'm sure it's TOTALLY DIFFERENT going the other way, though. My morale is boosted .1 percent.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The complaining can continue

Whenever I feel too lazy/tired/busy to go vote, I remember what my seventh-grade social studies teacher always said: If you don't vote, you don't get to complain. I really, really, really like to complain. Obviously, I don't apply this rule to American Idol, since I've never voted and I complain about the results constantly, even the results from 2002. (Clay Aiken was robbed!)

Anyway. With the threat of a complaint-free future motivating me, I decided to go vote. Even though it was 35 degrees and pouring rain, and even though WCK was a little, um, resistant to putting her shoes on, and we still had to try to get to a morning music class after the voting, I'm happy to say that we made it to the polls. A nice man gave WCK an extra American flag sticker, all went well, and we were actually early for music class for a change. God bless America.

I'm so happy that I get to complain now.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dex Theme Song: The Video

Watch this and try not to smile just a little bit from the cuteness of it all.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Hey, there, woodchuck chuckers!

It's Groundhog Day!

You'd think after 32 years of Groundhog Days, I would finally have this down, but I can never, ever remember which way it goes. Does seeing a shadow mean winter or spring? I had to Google it so I could explain it to WCK. Here it is, once and for all:

Shadow = Winter
No shadow = Spring

I always get confused, because I think, if he's seeing his shadow, doesn't that mean it's really sunny out and should therefore be spring? Doesn't that make more sense? Why don't I run the world?

By the way, I got a few more hours of sleep and I feel a little bit better now.

Good mornin', my darlin', to you!

It's nearly 3 a.m. It's the Dex. I'm up.

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly each sang this song (in two seperate movies), and now I can't get it out of my head. It should be my Dex theme song:

Good mornin', good mornin'!
We've danced the whole night through,
good mornin', good mornin' to you.

Good mornin', good mornin'!
It's great to stay up late,
good mornin', good mornin' to you.

When the band began to play
the sun was shinin' bright.
Now the milkman's on his way,
it's too late to say goodnight.

So, good mornin', good mornin'!
Sunbeams will soon smile through,
good mornin', my darlin', to you.

Good morning, it's a lovely morning.
Good morning, what a wonderful day.
We danced the whole night through.
Good morning, good morning to you.

I said good morning, see the sun is shinin'.
Good morning, hear the birdies sing.
It's great to stay up late.
Good mornin', good mornin' to you.

When the band began to play,the stars were shinin' bright.
Now the milkman's on his way,it's too late to say goodnight.

Good morning, good morning!
Sunbeams will soon smile through.
Good mornin', good morning',
Good mornin', my darlin', to you!

Here's the bizarre thing about the Dex. It wakes me up prematurely (it used to be around 6 a.m., then it was around 4 a.m. .... tonight it is 2 a.m. Lovely. I remember when I thought the 6 a.m. wakeups were so bad. What I wouldn't give to SLEEP IN until 6 a.m. on a Saturday now), and when I wake up, I always have a caffeine headache. Why? I have NO IDEA. I still have my normal amount of caffeine during the day on Dex days (that's, like, one Diet Coke and maybe a cup of tea), so I'm not deprived. A lot of the time, if I get up and drink a Diet Coke, the headache goes away instantly, and I'm often able to get a little bit more sleep.

Right before I started taking Dex, I was told by a lot of people that I'd be "wired", that I'd want to re-wallpaper the house and fix the roof all night. I thought, well, maybe I could finally get some scrapbooking done or maybe even some closet cleaning. It's not like that for me at all, though. I don't ever feel "wired". It's more like exhaustion with the inability to sleep. Even though I'm up, I still just sort of want to sit/lie around. And back when I first started on 40 mg, I handled it much better than I do now, even though I'm down to just 12 mg. It's been 8 full cycles of this stuff now, though. I guess my body is getting tired of this stuff.

I'm not trying to complain (well, OK, yes I am). Mostly, though, I'm posting this for anyone else who might be on Dex or about to start Dex, just to share what's happening to me. Sort of a support group thing. Maybe it's happened to someone else. Maybe someone else is seeing this at 2 a.m. and saying, "So THAT'S what that headache is!", and running to get a Diet Coke and then going back to bed and having a slightly better day tomorrow than they usually would have had. Also because it's nearly 3 a.m. and I don't have anything else to do.

I know Rev/Dex is a really easy regimen compared to treatments for a most other kinds of cancer. No chemo. No throwing up. No going bald. No pain. No big surgeries or radiation treatments. Five-ish days a week I feel COMPLETELY NORMAL -- I actually feel really good -- and I can do anything I want. I'm lucky in that way. It does have its tough moments, though. This is a tough moment.

I have no idea why this works, but I just finished my Diet Coke, and the headache is gone. I'm going back to bed. Good night ... or good morning, I guess.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The fire hydrant was BRILLIANT

Today I saw three very important men: Elmo (YAAAAAY!), the president of the United States (BOOOOOO!!!), and Dr. GPO (yay for him, boo for the fact that I had to go see him).

This morning, Jay and I took WCK to Sesame Street Live at the new Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City. I was a little nervous about how she'd do, because she's still six months into her anti-Elmo crusade and shows no signs of backing down. If you'll remember, an episode of Sesame Street aired last fall that did not include the usual episode of "Elmo's World" at the end. Shocked by how Sesame had betrayed her without a bit of warning, WCK decided to give up watching the show permanently and still hasn't gone back to it. I miss Sesame Street, but I do admire her willpower.

She was excited about Sesame Street Live, though. For weeks, I would ask her, "Where are we going in a few weeks/next week/on Friday/tomorrow/today?" and she'd raise her arms in the air and exclaim, "Sesame Street Live! Hurrah!" She was absolutely fascinated by the show, did a little bit of dancing, and even wore her Elmo hat through most of it. I enjoyed it, too, although I'm pretty sure that Mr. Noodle was played by a woman. I also thought the actor playing the dancing fire hydrant made some interesting choices. (I feel the need to mention the actor playing the dancing fire hydrant, because you know that nobody else ever does. You know this person has to be on the very bottom of the Sesame Street Live totem pole. You know the actor playing Elmo gets his/her own luxurious dressing room while the fire hydrant is changing clothes in an alley somewhere and fetching coffee for Big Bird.)

After the show, we were eating lunch at a Subway near Parkville, Missouri, when the presidential motorcade drove by. The president had been in town at some fundraiser. We didn't get a glimpse of anyone -- just a whole bunch of cars and security vehicles -- but you could kind of sense The Most Annoying Man in the World Vibes rising off of the cars. Maybe it was just me.

After lunch, Jay and WCK went home, and I headed off for my monthly date with Dr. GPO. Get this: My hemoglobin is KICKING BUTT! It's 12.3. It hasn't been that high in, like, two years. All of my other red-cell numbers are well in the normal range, too. How did I do that? I am Iron Woman. My INR was 1.9, which is good, too.

I also told the doctor that the Dex is making me crazy again. I spent the last two weekends up for the day at 4 a.m, spending the rest of the time feeling like crawling on the floor, thinking I'd rather have cancer than take this medicine, begging for mercy from the Dex Gods. Actually, I'm sure there are no Dex Gods. I'm sure Dex comes directly from Satan. Dr. GPO says that instead of taking the 12 mg all in one day, I can space it out and take 4 mg on Monday, 4 on Wednesday, and 4 on Friday. I already took all 12 today, so it's too late to save this weekend from the Dex Devil, but next weekend should be a lot better. I'll start the new plan next Friday, taking 4 mg on Friday, then 4 mg on Monday and so on. We'll try it and see what happens.

It's time to go, and Elmo wants to sing the Dex song: Dex, Dex, Dex, Dex, Dex, Dex, DexDex, Dex, Dex, Dex ....