Moira’s Cancer According To Seinfeld

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December 23, 2008: JERRY: “See that’s what I like about the holiday season. That’s the true spirit of Christmas. People being helped by people other than me. That makes me feel good inside.”

cast_elaineSo this is cycle two, but is actually cycle 5. If I had stayed on track this would be my next to last chemo. But since the doctor tacked on another cycle with the new regimen, I will have two more after today.

The last one wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous three. I don’t know exactly why but I would guess two things helped. One: Those daily shots of Neupogen, since I didn’t have that total white count crash at all. The only side effect was my spine killing me for about a day and a half. I’ve had backaches, but this was like the bones were throbbing from the inside. I could feel this pulsating pain that would appear and recede, moving from lower to middle back. It went away though, and I was fine.

The other thing was Emend. This anti-nausea medication is $100 a pill and works to cut the nausea off from the brain before it starts. Most of the others work on the stomach. Emend is only effective if taken before chemo sickness. It doesn’t work if you’ve already started to feel sick. That stuff is brilliant. Even though I was still queasy, it was nothing like before. Before, I cried a lot more because I was so helpless. I think with Emend I only had one little episode. They should put that on the package: “Reduces crying jags!”

I’m a little bummed that I will be having Christmas with Chemo. (Sounds like Christmas with Como…which reminds me of the early SCTVs where Eugene Levy played a nearly comatose Perry Como, lying on the stage singing into a microphone placed beside his head.) But I’d be even more bummed if I were postponing. Better to get this done.

I’m back home now, and am a bit more tired than usual. I think I should just take it easy. Leighanne is off to Portland for the holidays (am hoping she makes it out with all the snow/airport mess up there). She gave me “Twilight” for Christmas as a joke, but not. I’ve read worse.

My family is planning on doing Christmas here, at our house, so that if I don’t feel well, I can just plop into bed for a while. Also, I won’t have to sit in a car, which is probably a good idea. Paul will do a good amount of cooking and I am just waiting for those Yorkshire puddings. Hopefully I can eat something more than soup. The house is quite festive; I put up the fake tree a couple weeks ago and I’m actually enjoying the look. Oh, it looks totally fake, but it’s a good fake tree.

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December 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

December 6, 2008: George: “He’s with the touring company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He’s the guy in charge of the wigs.” Jerry: “Boy…imagine…liking wigs to the point it becomes a career choice.”

I hate being bald. Cutting my hair short to prep for the impending hair loss was like Sampson losing all his strength. At the beginning of treatment, I would still wear a baseball cap over my thinning hair; or one of the little beanies/sleep caps that Leighanne bought for me at COH. When I went bald, I still never let Paul see me like that for many days. I felt ugly, vulnerable, and much older than those few months before treatment started.

 

The first time Paul saw me was when my cap had slipped off overnight. I wanted to crawl under the covers. He didn’t even bat an eye. Some time later, when I was lamenting over my new “look” he just told me that there was no way I could be anything but beautiful to him.  Big brownie points for that.

 

Leighanne was the first friend to see me bald. I put on a wig fashion show for her. It was no big deal.kylie-minogue-short-hair02

 

But it’s a rarity when someone sees my bald head. Too vain, I suppose. There’s no way I’m going out in public without a wig. I have this picture of Kylie Minogue after her chemo treatment on my computer and I look at it from time to time. It helps me get over myself and just concentrate on getting better. Plus, Kylie is incredibly hot today, so I just have to keep my eyes on the prize.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 5, 2008: ELAINE: “Yeah! And he is a friend, Jerry. He is reliable. He is considerate. He’s like your, exact opposite.” JERRY: “So he’s Bizarro Jerry!”

good friendsFriday. Jenn came to visit. She flew down from the Bay Area to see me. Jenn and I met more than a decade ago when we worked on Horse Illustrated—she started out as my managing editor; today she continues to be a great writer and editor. Over the years, we’ve occasionally lost track of one another, but Jenn is the type of person where time is simply relative. When she heard through the grapevine that I had cancer, she immediately called and said she wanted to come see me.

We originally had it all scheduled so that she’d be seeing me on my best week, but because my chemo got shifted around twice, her flight landed on what could possibly be a very bad day. I woke up and did a check and discovered, however, I didn’t feel too bad. Not great, but certainly not sick like previous cycles.

Jenn arrived like the day itself, sunny and full of positive energy–a welcome sight standing on my front porch. In the 10 plus years that I’ve known her, she really hasn’t changed. Still tall, ageless, rail thin, smiling. I discovered, as we spent some time catching up, that she has this gentle compassion that I’d never been witness to. Around her wrist was a silken pink cord, tied there, she said, for me. Throughout the day, she continually checked how I was doing; making sure that I still felt OK. She had another friend who had just gone through treatment, so I say she was adept at dealing with us sickies. But it was this nurturing side I’d never been on the receiving end for. I will never forget how good that made me feel.  

Through all of this cancer nonsense, I’ve discovered such incredible support that I clearly don’t deserve. I’m so humbled by my friends’ concern for me. It blows me away that people are so kind and giving. In the case of Jenn, just connecting to my fellow Sagg for the day meant so much to me. We brought each other up to speed on our lives, talked of our mutual friends, had a quiet lunch and just hung out. Later, Ellyce joined us for a short visit and it was just three old friends together, enjoying each other’s company on a warm fall afternoon, and the cancer was miles away, out of sight, out of mind.   

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 4, 2008: Bubble Boy’s Father: So anyway, you’re his favorite comedian. he laughed so hard the other night we had to give him an extra shot of hemoglobin. JERRY: That’s nice!

img_60694Thursday, day after chemo. There it sits. The injection of Neupogen. I have to do this today. I can’t find the instructions.

Thank God for the Cybernet. I go online and Google the instructions for injecting the thing. I come up with them, funnily enough from some UK site. Yes! Meant to be. So they say for me to get the syringe out of the fridge and let it sit for half an hour first, to get to room temperature. I wait. Then I’m basically supposed to shoot it in a fleshy area, like the belly or the back of the arm (hey, I work hard so that there is no extra flesh there!). I choose the belly. I have all my goodies nearby: the syringe, the alcohol pad, and the sharps container to dispose of the needle. The instructions say to jab the needle all the way in, pull back on the plunger just to make sure that I haven’t hit a blood vessel, and then slowly administer the Neupogen in. OK, here goes. Heart beating, I take a stab. Wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. The needle is really tiny. I don’t see any blood vessel invasion, so I punch the rest of it in, then withdraw the needle—and then I LOOK AT THE ALCOHOL PAD THAT I FORGOT TO USE. D’oh! Well, I surmise that junkies don’t use swabs and most of them last for months, so I quickly give the injection site a pat with the pad and hope for the best. Then I try to put the sharp in the container. It doesn’t fit. I have no idea how this is supposed to work—again, no instructions. But after trying to jam the sharp through the lid, I just decide to remove the lid with a butter knife and throw it in there. I know, it’s not supposed to be cracked open like that, but what the hell.

I don’t feel too bad today. Not nearly as bad as I was anticipating. Of course, it’s not where I’m up and about, but I was really thinking it was going to be head over the toilet inspecting the “American Standard” label close up. None of that, thankfully. God bless pharmacologicals. 

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 3, 2008: Puddy: “Don’t mess with the Devils, buddy. We’re number one, we beat anybody! We’re the Devils! The Devils!”

we're the devilsToday started the new regimen. It’s almost like starting over—I had two whole weeks off and am totally feeling normal and actually pretty awesome. At least I’m in good shape for the remainder of treatment.

I had to take my new anti nausea medication an hour before I went to the doctor’s. It’s called Emend, and it is designed to work on the brain prior to chemo, rather than quell nausea in the stomach. It blocks the receptors from sending signals to the tummy that say, “hey asshole, you’ve poisoned me—get this out!”

The new chemo is bizarre. Adriamycin is delivered “push IV”, where they run a saline IV into the arm, and then they inject this giant syringe over 3 to 4 minutes into the line. They constantly check the blood flow to make sure that the stuff is going where it should go. Oh, and there’s good reason why Adriamycin is nicknamed “Red Devil”—even my nurses laughed when I told them I knew what some patients called it. It is one of the ones that really does make you nauseous (hence the new Emend, which is supposed to help immensely), it makes any remaining hair fall out (say goodbye to eyelashes and eyebrows) and if it gets outside the IV, it can cause the tissue to die off. Tissue necrosis is not really reversible so they are VERY careful. And they have to put it in the vein away from the joint, so no putting it in the crook of the arm or at the wrist. Usually patients have those Port-a-Cath things installed in their chests, but I don’t. Kaval, my other nurse besides Julie, said that I would probably be OK since I have good veins—another thing to be proud of. They didn’t have a problem and I finished that Devil OK.

The second one, cytoxan (love the fact that it has toxic in the name) has to be infused slowly, or it causes massive headaches like a bad sinus deal. They had it wired, though, and I was in and out of that office in just over 2 hours. Was able to get work done on the laptop and their wifi is somehow faster than my stupid Fios that I pay dearly at home for.

I felt quite good when I left the office, so I ran a couple of errands. I even thought, well, I need to have something to eat, so … hey, there’s Taco Bell! Yes, I ordered Bell Devil. It was great. Leighanne thinks I’m tempting fate—can’t really decide which one will be worse. I figured by the time the nausea fights through the current medication, that food will be out of the danger zone.

Tomorrow I start those crazy injections that I have to do at home. It looks simple enough. Hell, if I can inject the cat, if I can take staples out of the horse’s surgical wound, I can do this.

I was told today that since I am kind of like starting over, they’re going to tack on an extra cycle—so four times I’ll have these two things. Am a little bummed that I need one more, but small price to pay. Rather have to do it all now than come back later.

Am getting a little sleepy now that it’s evening. Am just going to have soup, which will hopefully give the Taco Bell better company. 

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

November 27, 2008: JERRY: “So when I saw George on the street with an 18 pound turkey and a giant box of wine, I thought:

kramer as turkeyThanksgiving. I am thankful for (not in any particular order, so don’t read into it):

My lovely sisters FiFi and Adri, and Mum, who calls me every single day to check in, and tells me how great I sound, even when I don’t.

Paul, who has had to see me at my absolute worst and still loves me (and he even shaved his head in solidarity).

My menagerie of animals who figure out when they need to be not so demanding  and snuggle up when I’m miserable. Even the evil black Munky cat.

My friends and extended family who are just about the best group of people I could ever wish for. You guys give me so much love and care—I’m the luckiest person for it.

Fifi, Leighanne and Adrienne, who pitched in to get me a Nintendo DS so that I could exercise my brain (or melt it down). They are the best support system I could ever have, too, taking shifts on keeping me sane and grounded. Thanks Leighanne. “It’s gonna be fine.”

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment