jenny's belly

Monday, June 26, 2006


I couldn't remember the word "tablecloth" yesterday. (sigh)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nap Time

I spend most of my time at work appologizing. Seriously, I continuously forget things. And I found my ability to write professional copy is GONE. I could not write a little introduction to a glossary. Its really frustrating.

I met with my radiology oncologist yesterday for my first 6-month exam. I was able to talk to him about being tired--STILL--and he said it wasn't uncommon. "You've been through a lot." I guess when I hear it from doctors I believe it a bit more than when non-doctors tell me. I figure these doctors see a whole range of patients and if they put ME into the "been through a lot" catergory then it must be true. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just being a wimp.

You know, do I *really* need a nap every day? Well, yes, I really do. When I skip them I can't function well the next day. But then, maybe I've always needed an afternoon nap. I remember taking them when I was in college as a freshman and sophomore, before I was working full-time. But this feels more than "gosh, I'd like a nap". More like, "holy crap, if I don't sleep soon I'm going to collapse". And my doctor said that's okay, so I guess it is.

I'd really like to be able to pinpoint a date when I'll be 100% and all my doctors tell me its impossible. They all give me the same advice--just look back a month and be able to say "I'm better now". And I've been able to say that so... I guess that's all I get.

When is my brain function coming back? Its hard to feel like an idiot at work. I want to wear a sign "I wasn't always stupid". Doctors promise me it isn't permanent. I think other cancer patients hide it better. I remember some things and can perform adequately at work, but by no means am I performing up to my baseline standards.

And you know what? Everyone else has more patience with me....THAN me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Working Girl

I think I did well in my first week back to work. I was completely exhausted friday and had to leave early but part of that is because I didn't take a nap the day before *and* I drove into work. I wanted to have my car with me because I had a doctor's appt at Dana Farber and it just made complete sense at the time. But at 11:00am I was staring into space and couldn't focus on my work, little as there was for me to do. And I still had this long day of lunch with Carrie, then Bus transit over to the Farber, then wait for the doctor, doctor's appt, and home by about 4:00. And by 11:00 I could NOT see how it was going to work.
It didn't. I was home by 1pm and nearly fell asleep eating lunch. I took a nap and woke up at 5:30.
I had a good day today, though. I didn't take a nap this afternoon though I rested (VERY important). I goofed up some dates during some practice emails with my co-worker Cori Leigh, who did my job while I was gone... things I know are chemobrain-related and so I let them go. "Normal Jen" would never make such mistakes. My face would have flushed flame red, and I'd have been humilated and embarassed. "How could I be so careless? How could I have..." Yeah, not so much. Now I can say "Oh yeah, I didn't do that right" and move on. I got very used to being rather stupid this past winter so I have to be able to shake things off quickly.
Anyway, my 9-1pm schedule is working out really well. It will suck when it comes to payday, but in the meantime its good for my health. I'm really very tired when I get home between 2:30 and 3:00 and I think I'm going to try to stick with this schedule for a few more weeks. Maybe mid-July. I'd like to be able to go a full week without needing naps each afternoon. I mean, is that so much to ask? :)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Back to Work

My first (half)day back to work went well. I hid most of the day in my new cube, a very good place to hide as the legal group is nicely segregated from the rest of the floor. I don't really know why I wanted to hide, but its just the feeling I got when I was there. Like overexposure. I'd have gone under the desk if it was socially acceptable.
I met with my new boss who seemed very willing to let me set my own schedule and gradually fit myself back into work. I spent most of the morning unpacking my boxes and throwing things away. My own cryptic notes primarily. Things I'd saved to CYA. Or I guess that's CMA.
I was getting tired at noon (staring into space) but told them I'd stay until 1pm, which I did. I took a lovely nap when I got home. I'm going to try the 9-1 schedule everyday for a little while because I don't even know what I can do yet. But everyone has said I should NOT return full-time, including my doctor. So I'm listening!
It was very strange to be back because so much has changed. Not just that my role is different now, in a different cube with a different boss in a different department, but the whole company has evolved and a billion more people have been hired. And there's no way to catch up on a year except to "let it happen" because there's nothing to read or research to get myself there faster.
Anyway, my first project is to update a marketing manual, which I wrote last year. How do you update something when you don't know what's changed? I guess that's my challenge!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Work tomorrow

I met with my oncologist yesterday. We had a misunderstanding- I thought I was getting my "return to work" letter from him, and he didn't know he was giving it to me yet. So its in the mail. I'm to return to work tomorrow without a return to work release from my doctor! I have a meeting with my (new) boss but I don't expect they'll let me do much as H.R. would have a fit.

Anyway, the news from my oncologist was otherwise good. He was able to see the results of my endoscopy and colonoscopy and everything came out great. No problems, just some irritations in my stomach (inflammation) which doesn't surprise me at all. I still wake up at night feeling like I'm choking, when really its trapped gas. There are weird things going on down there.

My gastroenterologist called me today and repeated what my oncologist said, and added--get this-- I do NOT have Celiac's disease! It turns out the kind of test they did last year gives false positives and with the cancer diagnosis they weren't in any rush to do additional testing. It would have been nice if for no other reason than I could have eaten normal food while in the hospital. I had to eat rice crackers, which are soft as concrete, and the last thing you should serve someone recovering from stomach and esophageal surgery. Why don't you just punch me in the gut while you're at it?

Anyway, I'm on the computer now (at 10:20pm) to find out the train schedule for getting into the city tomorrow. It has been a long, long time since I have been on the train! I plan to go in for 9:00 but don't expect I'll be in there much past noon. I was going to try to stay a whole day but I went back to sleep today at 11:00am and woke up at 3pm. And I'm sleeping really well at night too, its not like I'm up at 3:00am wandering around. But it's only 5 months since radiation stopped, and 3 months since chemotherapy stopped, so fatigue and chemobrain are not crazy-out-of-the-question symptoms right now.

I have my next CT scan scheduled for late July, and should be able to have my port-a-cath taken out sometime afterwards. Probably late September.

So the real news is that the cancer is gone, which I'm starting to maybe believe. I still worry about the rogue lymph node (Fabian) but not as much. I just find it extremely hard to believe things are well and truly behind me. You know what I mean?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Just Breathe

So I woke up at the end of my endoscopy, choking of course. And they tell me "Just breathe." Oh, like its so easy. There's a tube leading into my small intestine, why SHOULDN'T I be having a difficult time. But they obviously increased my drugs and put me back under.

Unfortunately, I woke up again during the colonoscopy. And I was wide awake. I told them as much and they weren't concerned. HELLO, AWAKE OVER HERE! And I can see everything on the tv monitor the doctor is watching. Hey, what about that thing, was that a hole in my intestine? Hey, did that look weird to you? Wait, go back, what was that?

It's really not a horrible thing, for all those people my age and even older who have never had one. I mean, its not FUN but its not as bad as you might think. Endoscopy is far worse, and I think I've had 4 or 5 by now.

Anyway, the doctor said things look okay, both in my intestines and my stomach. She said that young adults with onset stomach cancer often end up with colon cancer, so I'll have to repeat the procedure every 3-5 years. The worst part was actually getting the IV in. The nurse talked big, like she was capable of using my port-a-cath. I told her I didn't mind if she just used my arm, and whatever was easier. It took this woman three tries to find a vein, and my veins are VERY easy to find. She wouldn't go in my arm where they usually go, but wanted to go in my wrist, top of my hand, etc etc. Each time she had to use anesthesia which burned like hell. It made novacane seem great in comparison.

So anyway, I have to wait until the 16th for my official results, but things seem like they're going to be okay. Its nice to leave the endoscopy area with good news! What a difference a year makes....