Losing my hair wasn’t at all what I expected. After the first chemo treatment I was watching for it to fall out, not knowing whether I’d wake up to find it all on my pillow or whether it would just start to thin and slowly disappear. Neither!
I’ve never been able to ‘leave well enough alone’, so I started tugging on my hair in various places and, what do you know, piles of hair came out whenever I tugged. It didn’t hurt, and it was kind of fun in a bizarre way. After a couple days it was looking pretty scrappy though, so I had a sweet friend shave it all off on Christmas Eve. Wow. It’s a real trip, feeling the breeze on my scalp! And it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would! I’m not really bad-looking as a bald person. (You’ll have to check the pictures in the Gallery on this site to see whether or not you agree – I can only attach one image to this journal entry.)
Yesterday, my ‘silly hats’ arrived from Justine, so today it’s time to get back to journaling and include the hattitude pictures I promised. I also have beautiful scarves from my cousin Ceil and my sister, Cindy, and a lovely, hand-made prayer blanket from my dear friend, Janet. Laurel knitted me a hat and a scarf, too! I’m totally hat-rich and wrapped in love and softness.
I’ve been through two chemo rounds, and the regimen is still tolerable. I seem to feel sicker the second week after chemo; my immune system is knocked out and I need to be careful to not be around anyone with a cold, but that’s probably a good idea for any of us. My plan for 2017 was to leave KY for FL on January 1 and come back in mid-April, as I did last year. Instead, I’m on a surprise adventure, staying home, and learning all I can.
Today’s lesson (a rerun) is patience. I’ve been on hold with my new insurance company for…let’s see, two hours, five minutes, and 34, no 35 seconds. That’s at least 20 minutes more than the computer voice advised when I signed up to wait. I’ve invested so much now, I can’t hang up. At least there’s a kind voice that breaks into the catchy music every five minutes to remind me that, “All agents are still assisting other callers. Please continue to hold, and your call will be answered as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.” I try to decide whether they use the exact same recorded message, or whether there’s a slight variation. (Sometimes it seems the voice places just a bit more emphasis on the ‘still’ in ‘still assisting other callers’.) I try to remember to thank her for her patience each time she thanks me. Perhaps a real person will answer sooner. Who knows what goes on in call centers?
I was careful to select a health insurance provider that accepted all my current doctors, hospitals, and medicines. Evidently I wasn’t careful enough, as Anthem told my doctor this morning that he is out-of-network. Even though all agents are still assisting other callers, I’m confident the agent who eventually takes my call will be kind and helpful. She, or he, and I will certainly work this out. I am hopeful my agent accepts the responsibility of their career in the spirit of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.
Well, what do you know? After only 35 more minutes, an agent answered and was very happy to help me. She was able to determine the problem in just a moment. My providers are all in-network. The insurance person at the doctor’s office made an error. My policy is an Anthem Silver Pathway X HMO 3500 S05, and she mistook it for a different Anthem Silver Pathway X HMO 3500 – one that doesn’t accept my providers. (I’m serious.) All is well. I should have known. I had this same problem with my last insurance company.
So, about my Health, as opposed to my Health Insurance, or my Hats. I’ve had to make revisions to my expectations of what I can accomplish in a day, or in an hour. “Wash the dishes,” has been revised to “Wash the glasses, take a break, wash the cups, take a break”, etc. etc. I can’t stand up for long without running out of gas. Walking a short distance (living room to bathroom) leaves me short-winded. That’s a symptom of my red blood cell count being so low. Insufficient oxygen. Last week my doctor prescribed antibiotics because my white cell count was ‘LowLow’, the technical term for ‘below the lowest level’. Ironically, my complementary medicine doctor had recently prescribed probiotics to help my metabolism and my immune system. So for now, I’m taking the probiotics in the morning and the antibiotics in the evening. Perhaps enough of the probiotics will survive the onslaught of the antibiotics to do their good work.
I try to strike a balance between Western Medicine’s response to cancer with Complementary and Eastern Medicine’s response to cancer. I believe I have found excellent practitioners from both sides, but they don’t exactly revere each other. If you have any health issues that challenge you severely, you might want to consider consulting someone in Complementary Medicine. The main difference, in my opinion, is that the Eastern approach understands that your body can heal itself, given optimum conditions. It strives to help you take advantage of the best conditions for the health of body, mind, and spirit. I see Dr. James O’Dell (Inner Light Consultants) in Louisville, and I work with Hunter Purdy (Serving Love), a wonderful holistic nurse practitioner in Frankfort. I highly recommend them both, and believe their care is one reason I’m tolerating the chemotherapy so well. There are more excellent practitioners in Central Kentucky, I’m sure. Please note, they are ‘Complementary’, not necessarily ‘Alternative’.
Well, I think I got a couple points across in a fairly long-winded entry (Hats Are Good, Complementary Medicine Is Good, Health Insurance is ……no words for that mess). If I don’t post this now it’ll soon be past my bedtime (which is much earlier these days). I didn’t get all the hat pictures I wanted, especially my new silly hats from Justine (one of which is a chicken, and one a fish; stay tuned). I’ll use that promise as a carrot to get you to read in future. Next chemo day is January 17th and my sister, Linda, will be here with me that week; possibly even my sister, Cindy, as well! I’ll have a PET Scan next week, so by the next chemo day I may have some news about what all this has accomplished so far (beyond the nice bald head) and what my personal prognosis may be.
I continue to be grateful for so much life every day, and especially for your love and concern.
Happy New Year!
Published on CaringBridge.org — January 6, 2017