Self-Checkout Has Saved My Life (and my girly parts)

>Seriously. Self-checkout at the supermarket is pretty much the greatest thing ever invented for someone with social anxiety. Just GOING to the supermarket can be daunting sometimes (“What if someone SEES me buying that specialty cake? They’ll know there IS NO special occasion!”), and the thought of having a stranger poke through all my food choices is enough to send me into a panic attack.

I HAVE gotten better about this, but it still bothers me sometimes, especially now that I am soooo used to using the self-checkout whenever there is one available. Unfortunately, there is no self-checkout option at Target (aka My Most Favorite Place). This causes problems when I have to buy things like pads or Immodium or other embarrassing personal things. Call me crazy, but it makes me uncomfortable for a stranger to know that I am gassy or bloated or PMSing or that I have the runs. I do the usual thing of buying 38 other items at the same time to try and hide the one or two personal items. Overall, this system works for me.

I have had a bit of a “feminine situation” happening for about the past 5 or 6 days, and unlike other times, it is not resolving itself naturally. Short of stocking up on Brillo pads and scratching my hoo-ha to death, I had to give in and buy Monistat. Oh yes, dear readers, that kind of situation. WELL. Clearly, I could not buy such a thing at Target (where it’s cheaper) and risk being judged (you KNOW they talk about you after you leave!) by the cashier (I can’t even imagine what would have happened if there were only MALE cashiers. I would have thrown it on the floor and ran.), so I had to stop at A&P instead. Luckily, they had just what I needed, and I was able to hide it in the basket under a frozen dinner and some juice. Now I am slowly on my way to recovery.

(Speaking of juice, since I am incapable of eating my vegetables like an adult, I bought myself some Apple & Eve Fruitables [yes, the ones with Sesame Street characters on the bottle] to get in some healthy veggies. It tastes much better than the V8 Splash or whatever it’s called.)

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Eating My Emotions

>My friend Cyndi posted a blog today that I could really relate to about eating when you’re stressed out/angry/upset/whatever. I do this. I eat my emotions and think that I’ll feel better, but all I end up feeling is bloated and crampy and more depressed than when I began.

I wish I could be one of those people that loses their appetite when they’re stressed out, but I seem to get MORE hungry. And of course I’m not craving healthy foods like the veggies and hummus I have in the fridge. Oh no. I want fries and ice cream and chocolate. And those people who go for a run to relieve tension and stress? I’d much rather just lie on the couch and watch mindless television all day.

Depression is a nasty thing. I’m trying to fight it without meds and I’ve been doing pretty well the past few months. I’ve been praying a lot more and really trying to give my worries and anxieties up to God, but I still can’t help stressing about my mom no matter how much I try to leave it in God’s hands. I feel that desire to spend all day sleeping slowly creeping up on me but I’m fighting it. I walked a total of 4 miles this past weekend to push past it, and I’ve been trying to resist binging on junk food. I can do it. Eating too much cake is not going to make me feel better, nor is it going to make my mother healthy again.

Acceptance

>It appears that my mom is improving and she may be able to come home sometime within the next few days. She told my dad that she is “considering” finishing radiation, but that window is slowly closing and she doesn’t seem to be making any moves toward getting started again. I understand she’s scared and doesn’t want to be miserable anymore, but I hope she’s thinking about the long term outcome as well.

My mother is very stubborn and will not do something just because people want her to. She likes to do things on her terms and in her own time. Because of this, I haven’t really forced the issue with her because I don’t want her to put up a wall. I’ll admit, I’m going to be very disappointed if come Friday she has let this opportunity pass her by. It seems like she’s giving up and I can’t quite understand why. It’s not like she’s an old lady — she’s only 61 with plenty of years and experiences ahead of her, if she wants to fight for them. It tears my heart out to think that she might not be around to meet her grandchildren, not because she couldn’t be, but because she chose not to fight back.

She can beat this if she puts her mind to it. I believe in miracles, but I also believe we have to do our part and put in a little effort. No one is asking her to jump right back into chemo — in fact, her oncologist won’t even consider it right now — but I truly believe she could handle 8 more sessions radiation now that the cisplatin (chemo drug) is leaving her system. It won’t be fun, and no one is pretending it will be all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s doable.

She keeps saying that she was fine before she started the chemo and that’s what made her end up this way. She’s partially right — it was the chemo that made her so malnourished, but she definitely wasn’t ok before she started treatment either. And I don’t think she is understanding that cancer doesn’t get better or go away on it’s own. This isn’t a cold or the flu. Without treatment, she’s looking at a potentially long road of suffering worse than this ahead of her.

I don’t know how to make her realize this without it seeming like I’m pressuring her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Is it selfish of me to want her to continue treatment? Wouldn’t she want the same for me if our roles were reversed?

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Cancer Sucks

>Cancer seems to be one of those things, like many, that you don’t really realize how awful and destructive it is until you witness it firsthand. Obviously everyone knows it is a horrible disease, and I’ve known people who have both survived it and died from it, but I haven’t been particularly close enough to any of them to really see what happens. My grandfather had prostate cancer, but he was already living in the nursing home and suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s when he was diagnosed, so I never saw the effects that the cancer had on him. My father-in-law was diagnosed with lymphoma about a year and a half ago. He went through chemo and he visibly struggled with it, but he continued working throughout his treatment, and aside from seeming more tired than usual, he did really well. One of my childhood friends has breast cancer, but I believe she’s in remission now. We lost touch and when I found her again on FB, I noticed that all her recent pictures featured a headscarf. I put two-and-two together and when I asked her about it, she confirmed it. One of my sorority sisters in college died from chemotherapy complications for lung cancer. They found a tumor on her lung when she was 11, and it had gone unnoticed for so long that it spread down to her ovaries and had snaked it’s way all around inside her so badly that they had to remove her ovary and some other stuff, but mostly she was ok. When she was 20, she started to get sick again and it turned out the cancer was
back. She suffered respiratory problems from the chemo and decided she did not want to be put on a vent, so she passed away.

None of this has really hit me until now, watching my mom battle it. She was so ill and tiny to begin with (just 85 pounds at the start of treatment), that the chemo and radiation have just wreaked havoc on her body, leaving her at a whopping 70 pounds when she was admitted to the hospital on Monday morning. She can’t walk without assistance, she throws up everything she eats (although this has improved since she was admitted, as they’ve been giving her anti-nausea meds via IV and have stopped all treatments), she can’t swallow very well due to the radiation for the tumors in her lymph nodes, and she is severely depressed and anxious.

Watching your tiny, 70 pound mother lie in bed and struggle to cough up chunks of blood is not pretty. Having to help her sit up so that she doesn’t choke on her own vomit is even worse, especially when you touch her and realize all you’re touching is bone covered by a thin layer of skin.

She is doing slightly better now that she’s able to eat and drink. They’re giving her meds to boost her appetite, and they’ve increased her anti-anxiety meds to help her sleep, but she is still nowhere near healthy. One of the radiation specialists came to visit her yesterday and informed her that radiation would be starting again on Monday so that they can finish the last 8 sessions (she’s completed 27 out of 35). She said no, she’s not doing it. There is just no way she is going to gain enough weight and be well enough in 3 days to withstand more of these sessions. It’s just not possible. She understands that her window of opportunity to complete the treatment might pass her by (for whatever reason, you can’t have more than one round of radiation), but she’s ok with that because doing it would probably kill her.

I’m scared because I know there is no cure. Treatment can help to keep things under control, but what happens if you can’t complete treatment?

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