Vanity, oh vanity

Vanity.  It is defined as the following:

noun,

1. excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit
2. an instance or display of this quality or feeling.
3. something about which one is vain.
4. lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness
5. something worthless, trivial, or pointless.
 
Pride in appearance seems like the last thing possible during chemotherapy.  My hair is thinning, even if only people taller then my 5’9″ height can observe it.  My eye lashes are lessening.  My complexion is different and yellowish, if only to me.  There are many constant statements from my support team that tell me they can’t notice it.  That I look great and maybe even a little thinner. 
 
But…….
 
Every day I can see a change.  Every time I shower, more hair falls out, and my pride in myself fails a little bit more.  Self-confidence has never been a strong suit that I owned.  However, with all the changes going on in my body, the self-confidence creeps lower each day.  Noticing these changes, I am trying to do what is possible to pull the self-confidence back out.  THERE IS HOPE!
 
One suggestion I hear frequently from the support staff at the treatment center is: Do your hair and makeup every day.  In other words put the effort in, even if you are only going to be at home.  And know what? It helps!!  It helps every time you look into the mirror!  There is that image in your head, rather then the blotchy skin and sleepy looking eyes.  There is beautiful skin tone and blush, that are a step towards what I used to be. 
 
One of my best steps towards vanity and self-confidence has been to dye my hair.  Having hair that is crazy colors has always been something that I thought would be out of reach. My job is a position that requires being professional, etc.  However, if there is one time in the life where it might work out, now would be it.   So get thee to the salon.  The first salon was a delightful friend who did a beautiful ombre.  So fun and happy.  She is one that is daring enough to go and put her hair in all forms of color, and I am jealous. 
 
It is amazing the amount of people that do triple looks when you have unusual colors.  Also the service people at hip stores comment in awe, which was very shocking for me at first.  But compliments from strangers are so wonderful!  10 points to self-confidence!!!  So here are two different photos of my with my colors, only 2 days apart. 
 
Ombre Fun!Ombre view 2
With magenta and purple hair dye, it fades quickly, especially with me washing my hair.  Due to time restraints and busy schedules, I went to another salon for the next dose of color into my hair.  It was a reward for getting through an specifically difficult treatment session.  But it reintroduced the color back into my hair.  It gave me something to smile about.  It was something fun to play with and style with for quite a few weeks. 
Ombre Time 2
Now, the thinning of my hair is starting to get to me.  I know, I am getting off lucky with chemo.  This is where my guilt comes in. So many lose all of their hair and either have to embrace the bald head look, or fight with wigs and/or scarfs.  However my vanity is wearing out and with it my self-confidence.  Naturally, my hair is fine and not overly dense to begin with.  So losing a good bit of hair every time I shower, adds up, if only in my eyes. 
 
So wig shopping I go.  It was a scary prospect at first.  The guilt didn’t help.  But the people at this salon showed me some options and I decided to go with what I call the “Female Toupe”.  It is a toupee that will match my hair and only cover a small section at the top of my scalp, where the thinning is most obvious.  It is kind of embarrassing to think about, but when it went on my scalp, my self-confidence jumped. It hides what is embarrassing.  However the stylist kindly hinted that my hair color should be something more traditional for matching purposes. 
 
As of Friday, I am in the brown/black shade range to cover the purple and magentas.  The Snow White look is making me very, very happy!  Soon I will have an appointment to go order my fake hair, and will wear it with pride.  Pride that there is something that I can do to improve my self-image on the low days.  Pride that I am admitting, in a massive way, how vain I am about my hair, and how I am striving to keep my vanity to high levels.
 
There is a time when vanity is bad. There is a time when it is detrimental to one’s happiness and those around you.  However, at this point in my life and the hard knocks over the past few months, I am going to embrace my vanity. I am going to dance around the maypole in my head and sing songs to it. 
 
So, let’s send up a cheer to vanity!
 

Give me Food Energy!!

Energy.  It come from what you eat and what you do.  And while recovering from a treatment, every ounce of energy is required.  Fueling the body properly is one of the best activities that can be done. 

Pinterest has been helping me to accumulate some new recipes to try that 1) has protein, 2) calories, and 3) limits how many cold things need to be used.  And at least once a week, I want to try something new, and something that works with my current circumstances. 

Raw Ingredients

Avocado Tuna Melt.  It is a wonderful, easy meal.  The recipe came from MyFridgeFood, and I credit them with the research involved.  The ingredients are a can of tuna, tomato, avocados, peppers and cheese.  The tomatoes and Hungarian wax pepper came from my own garden.  There is something special about fresh tomatoes, just off the vine.  The flavor is addictive!  So addictive I had to include extra slices on my plate. 

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It took me under 10 minutes from gathering to plate (granted I didn’t cook it long enough to brown the cheese as I was too eager to eat it).  Only one item was in the fridge (cheese), which is a huge plus!  The combination was delightful to eat and very satisfying.  The avocado was so nice and creamy with the mixture.  It provided a sweet richness to each bite.  The tomatoes gave that nice taste of acid and robust flavor.  And the peppers I added had a bit of spice to them, so a little went a long way, but was definitely the final key to the flavors.  The Melt  is so light and happy of a meal, it is going to be frequently repeated while my vines keep holding tomatoes and peppers. 

 

 

 

The Dreaded Day Before

The day before chemo treatment has to be the worst day in my two week cycle.  Chemo day, there is something going on.  And each of the following days.  But on the day before chemo, I can’t stop myself from looking ahead to at least 5 days of feeling horrible.  5 days of listlessness, 5 days of hating the idea of eating and drinking, 5 days of serious cold-sensitivity, etc. 

I try to keep myself busy during the day before.  I try to find things to distract me from what is pending, but no matter what I do, it is still sitting there like a black hole over my head waiting to suck me into the next dose of torture. 

Typically, my form of medical methods are more homeopathic.  When I have a cold, I take peppermint tea, when my stomach is upset, I use ginger.  Inducing myself with toxins to kill of any potential cancerous cells, is extremely against my nature.  Such a medical concept is its own form of torture for me. 

For me at least, the day before is similar to a scene in Harry Potter has to give Dumbledore the “Drink of Despair”.  However I feel like both Harry and Dumbledore.  I have to force myself each Monday to go and have my 49 hours of treatment.  I have to encourage myself to go.  And yet, I am the one that has to suffer from the poison.  No one can take my place.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nVQPwH2m4s

But this is when I try the most to find hope.  Some days, it is a hard fight.  Some days it takes constantly fighting for 1 second of thankfulness.  Those are they days when my support team is most important.  They are the crutches that help me take one step, then the next step, and then the next.  Without them, I do not know where I would be. 

My team is a great one.  A group of people that I love dearly.   My darling boyfriend who is my constant source of strength and love, even on days when all I can do is cry (especially those days).  My family who are constantly there helping me with the day to days, and specifically on the days when making my own meals is just beyond me.  And friends who are willing to do whatever they can to make my path easier.  And I love all of them for all they do.  They are why I can continue to take my medicine.  Thank you my wonderful support team!  Thank you very, very much!!

#thankyou #Volunteer #CommunityInvolvement  Support Action in Community Through Service... https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1426967

The Calorie Canundrum

My life currently seems to revolve around calories.  In previous years, calories were to be minimized.  Low fat, low calories.  Eat just enough so that hopefully my body will become smaller.  Now I am faced with the opposite issue.

My nutritionist informed me that a lot of my side effects were a direct result of me not eating enough calories.  I was shaking, my hands were cramping, and the other side effects were hitting stronger than expected.  Her advice for me with my present weight and what I am going through was to consume 2500 calories in a day.

To me, that is an insane amount of food.  My typical food intake was around 1500 (at least that was my goal).  Most people would rejoice at being able to have an extra 1000 calories a day. For me it is a constant struggle and annoyance.  When I do not consume those extra 1000, I am fatigued and plagued with other problems.  However, when I do eat that 1000, my need to nap is greatly reduce and I feel so much better.

I have friends that are constantly trying to keep under a calorie limit, like I used to be.  And now I would do anything to hand over a few extra calories to others.  Eating has now become a chore, a job.  I am trying to invent new and crazy ways to force extra calories into my body.

The nutritionist told me to eat butter, cook in oil, have peanut butter.  Basically do all those things that nutritionists have told us for years to avoid. Milkshakes were her biggest suggestion, granted with the cold sensitivity, it isn’t an option for me.  But it shows how drastic a change my diet is looking at.

My kitchen is now stocked with easy, bad calories for the days when eating is the most annoying thing I have to do.  Poptarts, puddings, instant meals.  All are things that I have avoided like they contain the plague for years. Now they are ways to give my body energy to heal.

The amazing thing is that I am still losing weight, granted it is slowly, but it is still happening.  So I will go get myself a bagel with cream cheese, enjoy my Starbucks late with extra syrup, and hope when all this is done, I can go back to a normal diet without my body expanding.

Time for a snack….

trail mix

Spider-Rodent… The adventure begins

Once in the fabled land of The Great Backyard, there existed a tower of food.  The Great Tower contained the most desired of foods and was owned by the evil Birds.  The Birds claimed all the deliciousness for themselves.  That was until a squirrel decided to fight back.  And this is the story of the squirrel.

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In his adventures around The Great Backyard he came upon The Great Tower.   And that is where his mind started to whirl and think. His mind suddenly conceived of a convoluted path that would lead to The Great Tower.  First he had to traverse up The Antenna, then he had to scurry along the rain gutter.  Now he had to precariously dangle down.  After much pondering the manner to do this, he decided to act like a spider.  He had always marveled at the spider and it’s power of creating its own web to hang from.  So after much work, he was able to become Spider-Rodent.  He then won his great reward!  The beautiful, delicious food from the Great Tower!

Stay tuned for the future adventures of Spider-Rodent!

 

PS, there was this silly human taking pictures of this daring feat.  Please see the proof awesomeness below!

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Nom Nom
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Doing what only a Spider can! Success!
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Resting after the marvelous feat!

In The Beginning

Hello! Greeting!  Salutations!  Welcome to this place of hope and honesty.  Welcome to where I hope to help others going through the same thing as me, while also being honest about the struggles involved.  Mainly though, I hope to provide what I have found useful along the path of chemotherapy.

Let me introduce myself.  I am a single mom of a darling little angel of 8. I am also the person who  got the unfortunate news in April of 2014 that I have colon cancer.  And from there the world went upside down, inside out, and curiously alien.  All sense of immortality left in a 30 second sentence from my colonoscopy doctor.  At 34, this was the last senstence I was expecting to hear.  And that is when I started the horrible path of research.  What did colon resectioning mean?  What are the different stages?  What do the stages mean?

Then I wanted to find advice from those that have been down this path.   The world is full of blogs: happy, sad, angry at the world, on a specific topic.  But when I first got diagnosed with colon cancer, there didn’t seem to be anything helpful.  And as I continue down this path, I find even less helpful information.  I can find statistics on survival rates, expected side effects, encouraging little slogins.  But absolutely nothing that helped me with my next step.  And that is discouraging!  I want to know what others are doing to make things more manageable.  I want to know what little tricks help with the day to day struggles.

So…. I am venturing into the world of blogging.  Hopefully my struggles to find working options for this disease will help someone else with even one thing.  Any little bit of help that I can provide to others will make this worth it in one way or another.

That being said, I am not a doctor.  I provide this disclaimer so that you remember to ALWAYS listen to your doctor and their specific recommendations.  My suggestions are just based on what I have found to work for me.  Each person’s path through chemo is unique to them.  So what works for one, will not work for all.

Now with that disclaimer done with, I hope this provides hope and some good ideas for those going down a similar path.  Remember, there is always hope, no matter what life gives you.

Love and Peace!  And May you have a great day!

Autumn forest sunrise - red, rays, green, colors, forest, trees, gold, sunrise, autumn

Sun Tea.. Maybe My New Best Friend.

Oh Cold Sensitivity.  Oh world where anything cold or room temperature can cause pain.  But there has to be ways around this.  Part of my mission on here is to provide recipes that I have found success with.

So how many times have I been told to stay hydrated?  How many times have I looked at my doctors like they have five horns growing out of their heads?  Yes, hydration moves the meds out faster.  Yes it helps the body heal faster.  But when you can’t drink anything cool or at room temperature, it gets difficult.  So my new answer is Sun Tea!

If it sits on your deck all day in the nice summer sun, then it is warm enough to drink comfortably.  It is easy to access.  It can taste different each day with a few tweaks to a simple recipe.  Also, you can judge how much you have drank very easily.  Problem solved!

My simple recipe is a gallon of water,

One Gallon Of Water

15-20 tea bags of your preferred tea.  I prefer decaf tea, thus my selection.

Tea bags of choice

Time for Patience

And then sun for a few hours.  Hey, even sun isn’t required. Cloudy days can be just as wonderful.  Pour and drink.  And if it isn’t quite warm enough still, heat it in a mug for 10-20 seconds.  And celebrate your drink for the day!

Enjoy

Things to take into consideration:

1.  Make sure your tea vessel is clean as we do not want to challenge our immune system any more then it currently is being.

2.  Add fruits of your choice to make a new flavor.  Lemon, Apples, Peaches, Berries.  Play with the recipe to make each day a nice new variation.

I know this has given me new hope for the hydration issue!  So simple, so yummy!  And what more can I ask for?

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