Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When can I go Commando?

This is a serious problem. When can I go wigless? My hair is about 3/4 of an inch long, I think. I'm not good at the estimating thing and I haven't taken a ruler to my hair anytime recently. I don't look like "whoa, cute short haircut!" I look more like, "Look how much hair you have! What type of cancer?" But soon the hair will be a little long to wear comfortably under the wig, I think.

This would not be such a problem, really, if I worked with adults or kids. Adults would be polite and kids would say (as did my nephew Brighton), "Hey, hey, hey, you got a short haircut!" and then stop thinking about it. No, I work with pubescents. They are too young to be polite and too old to be cute when they say they don't like the short-haired me. Plus, I feel that no matter when it happens, it will all be about ME when I stop wearing a wig. That's fine and all, there's nothing I like more than MEMEME, but when dealing with 12- to 14-year-olds, I don't really want it to be about me. I'm supposed to be the teacher who doesn't go the grocery store and sleeps in a coffin in the school basement all summer.

I did want to go commando when I went to my student's mother's funeral. She died of (I think) ovarian cancer and was so, so kind and gracious to me when I was diagnosed. I wanted to go without my wig to her viewing. It felt like solidarity, sister! I didn't because I knew that in MY head it would have been about her, but it would have been an attention sucker for everyone else. Still, I comforted myself that I was bald under my hair. Aren't we all.

So, I don't know. When can I go commando?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wow. It HAS been a while.

Let's see. Since I last posted:

1. I finished chemo forever! (We hope. We had darn well better have finished chemo forever.) My last day of Taxol was October 12. My hair was already growing back in, which was great. I took a cake to my fabulous nurses at Huntsman and a card. The card was of a woman on the beach. You saw the woman from the back, and she was wearing a flowy dress and a big hat, I think because she didn't have hair. My nurses one-upped me by giving me a certificate of Finishing Chemo and a warm pink blanket. They're kind of like God. You think you're giving them a gift, and they just reciprocate with an even more fabulous one. You just can't get ahead!

2. I turned 36. This happened the day after chemo ended. What a birthday present! I don't have anything really important or witty to say about this, so I'll move on.

3. I got inked. I got tats. That's right, I got four tattoos! What's next, a motorcycle and a protection racket? Just kidding. I mean, I really did get four tattoos. They are four dots to line me up for getting radiation. Bo-ring.

4. I started radiation. They usually wait three weeks after chemo to start radiation, but I strong-armed them into starting a week and a half after finishing Taxol. Because, I told them, unless radiation causes diarrhea or hair loss (hint: it doesn't), we won't have overlapping symptoms. I didn't want to drive to Salt Lake every day for radiation, so I've been at Gamma West in Ogden. They've been fabulous. I miss my Huntsman buddies, but I can't bear the thought of two hours of driving every day. Yuck!

5. I have continued radiation. Each and every day from Monday through Friday. The worst part really is the every day constancy of radiation. I have started getting tired, as evidenced by a) falling asleep on the couch with startling regularity, and b) falling asleep while getting radiation.

Here's how radiation goes. I put on a little half-hospital gown (fortunately, I still have my pants on). Then I lie down on this very narrow platform and they move it up until I am at the right height. My head is in a specially-designed pillow that they molded to my head and arms, and my arms are above my head holding on to handles. There is a pillow under my knees and my feet are held together with a very expensive piece of equipment known as a "rubber band." Then the nurses look very focused and move me around until a laser that is shooting me from the ceiling lines up with the tattoos they gave me a few weeks ago. Then the platform moves me into a machine that looks like a mini CT scanner and they give me...a mini CT scan. This is when I visualize my hair growing back. That takes about 90 seconds. Then I'm moved OUT of the machine for about five minutes (no idea why), then back IN to the machine for about eight minutes of radiation. This is typically when I fall asleep, despite my desire to visualize DEAD and DYING cancer cells. Then I'm done for another day!

So. I'll try to do better at keeping you, my fan base, better updated.