Thursday, January 31, 2008

Twue wuv

I realize this blog is dangerously close to turning into a "look at all of the cute things my kid is doing" blog, instead of the cancer blog that it's supposed to be, if it hasn't already. Well, this entry is about to make it a million times worse:

WCK has started throwing her arms around me and exclaiming, "I love you!!! We're friends!!"

Awwwwww!

If you want the double-awwwww factor, you should know that it sounds more like, "I wuv you! We're fwiends!"

Awwwwww! Awwwwww!

All right. You can go back to what you were doing now.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thomas, he's the cheeky one ...

First off, let's review last night's American Idol, which was filmed in the town where I was born: Contrary to what was portrayed on the show, Omaha is not one giant corn field. It does have one or two tall buildings that just happen to be surrounded by corn fields. Plus, that crazy goth woman was from Council Bluffs, Iowa, the town where I grew up. For as long as I can remember, Council Bluffs has been struggling to prove to the world that it's not just a bunch of crazy people who live next to Omaha. I think that is the official town motto: "Not Just a Bunch of Crazy People Who Live Next to Omaha." We finally get some national attention, and this happens. Thanks, Crazy Goth Woman! You've set back the Council Bluffs non-crazy movement about 20 years.

This has been the longest week ever. WCK is getting over the worst cold she's had in her life. I'm not exaggerating: Her life has only been two and a half years long, I've witnessed every cold she's ever had, and this was by far the worst one. For the past two days, we've stayed in and tried to stick to "quiet" activities, such as coloring, book reading, watching Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney videos on YouTube. (WCK loves these. I told you she was my clone.) Yesterday she was so cranky that I wanted to run away from home, but I knew that unless I ran to a locale with a TiVo, I'd miss American Idol, so I decided to stick it out. By late afternoon, I'd given up on doing anything productive, and I let her watch three back-to-back episodes of Thomas and Friends. WCK seems to love Thomas (although it could have been the fact that she was viewing the show through a haze of exhaustion, cough medicine, and snot), but I find him and his friends downright creepy. Forget the brain damage caused by lead-coated Thomas toys; I think the main brain-damage danger comes from simply watching the show.

And what does "shunting trucks" mean?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Iron Woman

I've mentioned before that WCK has a horrible fear of vacuum cleaners. This is at least somewhat understandable, as vacuums make loud roaring noises. (Then again, so do dinosaurs, and she is in love with dinosaurs.) I haven't mentioned, however, that she also has a horrible fear of irons and ironing boards. Why? I DON'T KNOW. There's no good reason for this. It's not like a gang of evil irons once chased her through the woods at night.

I realize these two fears probably speak volumes about the state of my home and of my clothing.

Today we went to an arts and crafts gathering, where the craft involved ironing scraps of material to pillows. I didn't stop to think about WCK's fear of irons when I signed us up for this. Maybe I was trying to block it out of my mind. As soon as she saw me standing near the ironing board, however, she freaked out and we had to leave early, without our completed craft. She was an absolute mess until naptime.

What? IRONING BOARDS, WCK? What? Why? Why?

As soon as I got home, I actually Googled "afraid ironing boards", hoping that I'd find thousands of stories about other kids who suffered from the same thing, hoping that I'd find some evidence that my kid was totally normal. Maybe I could find a support group or something. Maybe it would even have some fancy scientific name, like "Wrinklefreeaphobia" or something. Nope, nothing. I did find one blog entry that began, "Emma is terrified of the ironing board ..." I got very excited until I realized that Emma is a cairn terrier. This is the breed of dog that played Toto in The Wizard of Oz, so at least it must be a semi-intelligent breed. But still.

The funniest result of my search was this: "Afraid of David Gest ... She noted that his permanently tattooed eyebrows and overly stiff-face reminds her of an ironing board. ..."

David Gest. Heh. Yes, WCK, there's something even scarier than an ironing board.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Welcome to Starbucks

WCK has suddenly started something new. When she asks for something, she'll begin her request with, "a large" and follow it up with, "no cream or sugar." This morning at breakfast, for example, she told me she wanted, "a large oatmeal, no cream or sugar." Later, she wanted some water and asked me to get her "a large water cup, no cream or sugar."

This doesn't just happen with food items, either. She was looking for her dinosaur toy and told me she wanted "a large dinosaur, no cream or sugar."

Of course, I always laugh hysterically when she says this, which only encourages her more. Where did she pick it up? I don't drink any coffee at all, while Jay is a Coffee Maniac, so I place the blame squarely on her father.

Large blame, no cream or sugar.

Friday, January 18, 2008

FUNNEST. DAY. EVER.

This morning we had our monthly meeting of the MOMS Club. We do different activities with the club nearly every day (playgroups, brunches, crafts, music class, gymnastics, AirZone, etc.), but once a month all of us gather in the meeting room of a nearby church for a monthly "business" meeting. It usually consists of about 10 minutes of actual business, and then about an hour and a half of snacks and some kind of fun activity or craft or general running around.

Today's meeting's theme was "Snow Day", and someone came up with the great idea to fill a giant inflatable wading pool with Styrofoam peanut "snow". At any given time, there were about 10 toddlers crammed into this wading pool, swimming through the peanuts, throwing them into the air, and shrieking with laughter. You can't begin to imagine how joyful it was. WCK had the absolute time of her life. I can't believe I forgot my camera.

The only down side was a mess unlike any I had ever seen. We weren't able to help with cleaning duty because of WCK's intense fear of vacuum cleaners. Once the big cleanup started, she clamped her arms and legs around me, squeezed like a boa constrictor, and wouldn't let go. Even after we got home, there were peanut particles everywhere. I think we'll be finding them around the house for years to come, accidentally eating them, breathing them in, learning to live in harmony with the peanuts.

Still. It was worth it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I know an old kitty who swallowed a fly

This morning I went upstairs for a minute, and I heard a blood-curdling scream from down below, followed by WCK climbing the stairs faster than I have ever seen her climb, still screaming. I met her at the top of the stairs and held her.

"What happened?" I asked, searching her body for some kind of horrible wound.

"GARLAND ATE A FLY!" she sobbed.

Never a dull moment around here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You callin' me a liar?

First, an American Idol recap: Who thinks they should just give the title to the cute girl with the sick daughter? Me, too!

Next: Bambi II arrived last week, and we have been watching it all the time, mostly while WCK sits on the potty refusing to pee. WCK loves the movie, and I have to admit that I enjoy it, too. I think it might even be better than the first movie. I never thought I'd say that about a direct-to-DVD Disney movie. Bambi II is the first one I've ever seen. Jay and I have always been big Disney fans, to the point of being big Disney snobs. We'd always scoff at the idea of the direct-to-video "sequels" -- you know, Aladdin II, Cinderella Part Three, what have you. We always said that when we had kids, we wouldn't allow them to watch anything but the "real" Disney movies. Apparently, we had no idea that there were so many other more important things to worry about -- such as figuring out how to keep a child alive -- so our Disney principles fell by the wayside. I guess I'm glad, because I really do enjoy Bambi II. Maybe I just like hearing Patrick Stewart (who voices the dad) say, "Bambi" all the time.

Anyway. One of the plot lines involves a snotty rival fawn named Ronno who is always picking on Bambi and making snide remarks. At one point, he says to Bambi, "You callin' me a liar?" WCK thinks this is HILARIOUS, and now she goes around saying this. She says it to friends, to complete strangers, to random mothers at AirZone. She often accompanies it with an evil eye, which makes it all the more shocking and hilarious and makes me look all the more like a terrible mother.

At least she's (mostly) given up her favorite line from Milo and Otis, which was "Okay .... PUNK!"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Today will be a better day, because ...

... AMERICAN IDOL IS COMING BACK TONIGHT!!!!!!!



This morning I caught myself thinking, "Only 11 hours until American Idol starts." I know that is lame and wrong, but you can't make fun of me. I have cancer.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Disappointment

It's been a week since my blood tests, and I finally got my results back today. All of my numbers are EXACTLY the same as last time -- and let's remember that the last time I was tested, I'd been off the drugs for two and a half months. My M-spike is still 2.3. I think the nurse could tell I was really disappointed, and she tried to reassure me that it is good to be so stable.

I don't want to be stable. I want to kick butt.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Step away from the fish, ma'am

I learned something new this morning: There is a one-week waiting period if you want to buy a 12-cent goldfish.

WCK has always looooooved looking at fish. I decided that when the time was right, we'd go out and get our very own goldfish. I'd let WCK name him, and we'd feed him together every morning, just like Mr. Rogers does, and it would be great fun. I kept goldfish all through college, and the majority of them lived long (for goldfish) happy lives, and I never heard any complaints coming from the tank. Anyone from college remember my goldfish Dave? He was the greatest goldfish EVER. There were at least three people at his memorial service in the dorm bathroom. I was completely heartbroken when we had to flush him.

Last night I went online and found that PetSmart sells something called a "Goldfish Starter Kit." For $19.99, you get everything you need -- a tank, a filter, food, gravel, water-conditioning stuff, even a little fake plant. This is PERFECT, I thought. This morning, WCK and I drove 20 minutes to the nearest PetSmart. There is was, right when we walked through the door: A box clearly labeled "GOLDFISH STARTER KIT" with a photo of -- yes -- a big goldfish on the front. I cheerfully put the kit in our cart, and then we walked around for a while looking at the kitties and birds and mice and lizards and dogs being groomed (I've always loved treating PetSmart like a free baby/toddler zoo).

We finally reached the fish area, and I told Fish Saleslady that we wanted to buy a goldfish. She looked at my cart in horror, as though I were hauling around a dead deer carcass.

"You're going to put him in THAT?" she said scornfully.

I looked down at the cart. The box still said "GOLDFISH STARTER KIT", not "GOLDFISH TORTURE KIT." The goldfish on the box looked happy; then again, maybe it was just a peaceful look that came with the sweet release of death.

"Um," I said, "yeah?"

"No," she said, as though I must be some kind of goldfish moron. "That tank won't work for a goldfish. A single goldfish requires ten gallons of water to live."

"Um," I said, "do you sell any goldfish tanks that are actually meant for goldfish?"

She directed me to another goldfish kit -- one that came with an enormous tank and cost $50.

"You can put one goldfish in here," she said. "But just one."

I stood there for a moment, trying to come to grips with the fact that a 12-cent goldfish required a $50 home, wondering where on earth I was going to put this tank, when Fish Saleslady delivered a new piece of news.

"You need to turn the filter on and let it run for a week, so even if you buy this tank, I can't let you take the fish home today. You'll need to come back in seven days."

A waiting period. For a fish. A 12-cent fish.

"Are there any other fish that can go in the cheaper tank?" I asked. You know. The tank clearly labeled for goldfish. Which you sell. In your store.

Fish Saleslady sighed.

"A guppy," she said, as though only the most uncool fish owners buy guppies. "But you still can't take him home today."

Fish Saleslady walked away to tend to her much more important Fish Duties, and WCK and I took one last look at the kitties and left, fishless and tankless. I hadn't really built up the "Buying a Fish" thing, just in case the deal fell through, so WCK was fine with it. I spent the drive home considering Plan B: Get the fish at Wal-Mart, where I'm sure nobody cares much about animal safety, or any other kind of safety, for that matter. Plan C is to secretly order the cheap tank online and then revisit PetSmart, sporting sunglasses, a beard, and a fake English accent.

"Why yes," I'll say, "I have an ENORMOUS tank at home! And it's been running for well over a week! Nothing but the best for my 12-cent fish! Jolly good!"

Fish Saleslady won't suspect a THING.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Vitamin R

I just got back from the Cancer Center. It was totally routine; nothing exciting. My INR is down to 1.3 (actual proof that I've been eating more vegetables!), so I have to increase my Coumadin back to 5 mgs a day. I've been on 5 mgs before, so no biggie. My hemoglobin is up to 11. Woo! That's still too low, but at least it's no longer Dr.-Carter-running-down-the-hall low. Dr. GPO referred to the Revlimid as "Vitamin R", which cracks me up. I think I will call it that from now on. I'm supposed to get my next round of Vitamin R on Thursday, if all the stars line up properly.

I've decided I should start looking at these doctor visits more positively. Is there any stay-at-home mother of a two-year-old who wouldn't enjoy an hour or two of sitting in a quiet waiting room, listening to soothing music, and reading or just staring into space? Yes, I have to get poked with a needle, but other than that, I should be the envy of all my friends.

Oh: Anna from Italy asked me a question about the plasma cell labeling index test that I mentioned a couple of posts ago. This is a test done from the bone marrow. It might be unique to the Mayo Clinic, although I'm not entirely sure.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Up on the housetop, reindeer pause

As you might recall, Jay and I helped WCK make reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter) on Christmas Eve. We sprinkled it out onto the snow on our deck. In the morning, the food was gone! It was almost as though the reindeer had, I don't know, gone outside with a broom and swept it off of the snow.

Yesterday morning, all of the snow had melted, revealing big piles of glitter and oats all over our deck. Jay and I stood at the window and looked at it, wondering how to explain the re-appearance of the food. Jay said, "Let's just tell her the reindeer came back and threw up."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Report

Yesterday I got my Official Report from the Mayo Clinic. It contains the results of the 6,979 tests they ran in November. Seriously: When I was doing my collection, I'd get blood counts done twice a day, and the results of every single one are in there. (All-time low of my hemoglobin? 8.6! If you get to 8.0 they give you a transfusion).

I love the Mayo report, because I get to sit and analyze every single number. I hate the Mayo report, because I sit and analyze every single number. Then I get all shaky and nervous and assume that I'm on the brink of death for a whole afternoon as I ponder everything I read. My plasma-cell labeling index (this is the rate at which the Evil Cells are multiplying) is up to .4, which the report says is an "intermediate rate." When I last had this test done two years ago, my rate was .2, which all the reports pointed out was "VERY LOW." Seriously, it was so low that the reports all used capital letters like that: VERY LOW. Should I be freaking out now? The capital letters have vanished from my report. Now they're all in my head. "INTERMEDIATE RATE? I'M DYING!"

After I freak out over all the numbers, I analyze everything that Dr. H has written. "Serum M-spike is essentially stable at 2.4." OK, OK, that's pretty good. Then the next sentence: "IgG is up slightly from August to 2300." When she wrote that, was she focusing on the word "slightly" (Translation: "You're doing all right") or the word "up"? ("YOU'RE DYING!!!!")

The worst part is the bone-marrow biopsy report, which doesn't appear to be written in English. Every third word is one I don't understand. I tried typing some of them into a search engine, and apparently many of these words don't even exist. If anyone knows what "trilineage hypoplasia" means, please e-mail me, because I guess I have it. (I know, it probably means I'M DYING.) I hate the biopsy report, because it reminds me that no matter how good I feel, no matter how much it seems like I don't have cancer at all, I still have this monster stomping around deep inside my bones, messing everything up. I can walk 15,000 steps a day, I can eat green vegetables, I can run around after a two-year-old ten hours a day, but my bone marrow is still 20 percent Evil Cells.

Anyway. After spending an afternoon feeling freaked out by the report, I calmed down and decided to focus on one of the bright spots, which was a note included with my urine results. My urine tests have never been too bad to begin with. Some people have M-spikes in their urine, and I never have. I've always had a small amount of myeloma protein in there, though. Now? "No monoclonal protein detected," says the report. That's right: I HAVE COMPLETELY NORMAL, CANCER-FREE PEE! So. I'm hoping my pee will lead the way for the rest of me. Maybe that means I'm not dying. I'll think about it.