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Pokey pokey

Followup this morning with my surgeon.

The short version is that I will probably need a couple of minor surgeries to reassemble things disconnected or broken by the big surgery and subsequent infection, but I knew that. Nothing is urgent, so they’re all going to wait until fall, after summer traveling and fun are over*.

Actual conversation:

Surgeon: So how is everything going?
Me: Pretty well. I finished chemo the first week of May, and am now trying to get my endurance and strength back. It’s slow.
Surgeon: You’re still recovering a whole lot faster than most people.
Me: Still not fast enough.

From there, various kinds of poking and prodding. (Colon surgeon: you figure it out.) My scar looks good, except for the few inches in the middle that decided to become hypertrophic. That’s the bit that itches and pulls and hurts and annoys the piss out of me most of the time. I massage it and oil it twice a day, and it will probably improve over time. I don’t really care that it’s ugly, just that it’s annoying.

So yeah, things are things. I’m walking the dog regularly, doing yoga (crankily, because I have so little flexibility now***), kayaking, and started strength training last week. I’m easily tired out, though, and cranky a lot. That’s not unreasonable, but still frustrating. My brain is recovering, but also not at full speed yet. (That had BETTER BE a yet; I miss my brain!) Lots of post-its can cover for cranial incapacity, but not all aspects of it.

And I would just like to say that in the winter, hot flashes mean that my toes get warm. In the summer? Insomnia and a lot of sweat. Yet another annoying consequence of cancer treatment, though other aspects of radiation-induced menopause are quite all right.

I rewarded myself for visiting the surgeon with a lunch of sushi**** and blogging, but the salmon is gone so it’s time to get back to work.

*Flying with an ostomy**: any of you done it? Google suggests that it’s pretty straightforward.

**Someday I will write an ostomy post, and you all will be fascinated and/or disgusted.

***Radiation damage, which may or may not completely recover, and surgical scarring, ditto.

****No sushi during chemo, but it’s been six weeks so I’m sure I can eat raw fishies again.

Charitable pooches

John Scalzi is collecting happy puppy photos for charity. How can you not want to participate?

photo

Here Trygvi is upside-down in a pillow fort he built himself.

One ball at a time

This is harder than I expected.

I’m done with treatment, and it was successful. [insert cheering here] That’s the best of all possible things to follow a cancer diagnosis with.

But it’s still hard. I’ve done little for the last sixteen months but focus on survival: staying alive, getting through chemotherapy and radiation and surgery and more chemo, doing the bare minimum at everything else. Now I’m free of all that, and I have to pick up all those balls again. My research career is a mess, my house is a disaster area, my body is weak and wobbly. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do all the things that make a successful and happy adult, not just an alive one. (I realize that latter is no mean achievement.)

I remember being active and doing things, writing, weaving, actual research, but in a vague, unfocused way: with a sense of wonder that anyone ever manages those things, and a general disbelief that I could manage those things again. It’s rather like being depressed, though I’m not. I’m tired, overwhelmed, and still recovering. It’s only been three weeks since I finished chemo, after sixteen months of abuse. I know it will take time to recover and remember how to juggle.

I’m winning, but victory isn’t easy.

Nom!

Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook is now available for pre-order!

Food, beverages, badgers… it’s all there!

I’m in, with the stupidest recipe ever. (What? I’m not telling!) But I know there are some really good recipes to make up for it.

This cookbook is a fundraiser for the SFWA Legal Fund, and should be a great treat for any fan of food and speculative fiction.

Fragile

I’m wearing my mother’s American Cancer Society SURVIVOR pin. Best I can manage today.

Done!

In the past sixteen months since being diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer, I’ve had chemo, chemo-radiation, surgery to remove parts of my liver and colon, and more chemo. As of 12:30pm today, I am fucking done with all of it. The home nurse pulled out the infusion needle and I signed my discharge papers. I don’t have to see my oncologist until August.

There’s still some medical stuff left, but it’s clean-up: reversing the ostomy, possibly fixing things that the post-surgical infection screwed up, things like that, but those are all voluntary, rather than “you’re going to die if you don’t.”

There are also some scary scans in my future, starting in June. I don’t remember the schedule, but it’s frequent CT scans for three years, I think, and less often for five, and after five? Not so often at all.

Right now, though, my CEA is still normal, I have no symptoms, I’m done poisoning myself and I get to start to recover. I’ve gained most of the weight I lost–having chemo every three instead of every two weeks helped a lot there–and so next I need to work on the muscle I lost, which I haven’t yet been able to do much about.

Right now I’m tired and queasy, but that will mostly fade by the weekend. By next week sometime I’ll be able to start yoga again, and will be eating normally (chemo weeks are all about the toast, even for a few days after).

I really want to call my mother and celebrate with her.

Fuck cancer, fuck the sixteen months I spent being poisoned, zapped and cut, fuck the years that it took away from my mother, fuck the uncertainty and risk I’ll be living with. Even the successes hurt.

Wandering through

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I put a lot of stuff online, both good and bad. Sometimes, though, something big enough comes along that I need to hold onto it for a while before I can write much, and if it’s really huge, then it seems wrong to blog anything else until that thing has been said.

So. Many of you know by now that my mother died on April 15. I’ve made any number of jokes about the long-time bookkeeper and Tax Day, but none of them were any good, really.

Maureen Vincent Goslee, July 30 1947 – April 15 2015.

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Pissing in the pool

I grew up reading the Hugo award winners anthologies, those collections of the best works of the year. It wasn’t until much later that I learned how the Hugos work, and even later that I made the miraculous discovery that I could participate in that process by nominating works I cared about, and voting from among the finalists.

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GENIUS LOCI anthology

The GENIUS LOCI anthology has only 20 hours left on its Kickstarter! We blew past the $22k stretch goal: deckle edges! foil stamping! a bookmark to keep your place in this GIANT anthology!

Reader, I got to see an early complete version this week, and wow. So many good things!

Not only are these my first deckle edges, here’s another GENIUS LOCI-related first: my first interview, at the Qwillery. So much fun!

Four of six; also six plus two

In entirely different scales.

I finished round four of the planned six chemo infusions this week. Sort of: the side effects other than exhaustion were minimal until today. You’d think by Friday I’d be feeling better instead of worse, but you’d be wrong. Even with a bit of a lapse today, I’m feeling enormously better than I did last round. Frustrating as it was, I think the delay may have helped me recover.

These lovely flowers also contributed to overall health and morale.

flowers

Not the snow, the snow did NOTHING good for morale, but it’s long gone, my snowdrops are blooming, and I saw a robin yesterday.

I did sleep with the velocikittenraptors last night, and ended up dreaming of being eaten alive by a telepathic shark that liked to play with its food. They were snuggly when I was awake, at least. Mostly snuggly, with only a few sharp bits.

I’m on a new med, Neulasta, that increases white blood cell production so I shouldn’t have any more delays. Sadly, I don’t think this means I get sushi yet. (Insert pouting here.)

With the week-here, week-there stuff, I should be getting my last treatment the first week of May. Originally I should be just about done right now, but no. Stupid recuperating body.

Which leads me to the “six plus two” bit. It’s six months and two days since I sacrificed chunks of colon and liver in the name of survival. I was going to blog on the actual anniversary, but my current chemo coping strategy involves spending as much time asleep as humanly possible, so I didn’t get to it.

My liver should be about 2/3 grown back. If I were otherwise healthy it would be completely grown back after six months, but chemo interferes with that process. (Even post-chemo livers are less robust, let alone those currently being poisoned.)

Sometime in June we’ll do some more scans to see how everything healed up, and decide when to reverse my ostomy, and if I need additional surgery to fix the fistula that formed due to the abscess and infection I had post-surgery. (Probably. Bah.) But my surgeon assures me that all of those can be “whenever” and will not interfere with my travel plans. (I like my colon surgeon. She’s quite awesome.)

My scar itches horribly whenever it feels like it, usually after I haven’t been moving much and it tightens up (yes, I oil it), and I occasionally have a tiny bit of pain when breathing deeply after sitting for a while. Which all just means don’t sit for very long, which is healthy anyway, but not compatible with chemo weeks. But nothing hurts when the velocikittenraptors stomp all over me, and I am otherwise healthy. Even the iodine-related thyroid problems may be improving, though I had to move my endocrinologist appointment due to all the changes in my chemo schedule, and the first opening is June.

Medical science appears to be doing its thing. I frequently think, though, that people a century or two in the future will look back at this in amazement at the horrible things doctors did to their patients. “They zapped them, and poisoned them, and cut bits out! How barbaric!” Still, best we’ve currently got, and it’s working.