January 20, 2021

Today was the day. I shaved my head. Or more accurately, Patrick shaved my head. I’ve actually been losing my hair over the last several days, but I refused to shave it prior to my second chemo treatment. I was told it was after the second one that I would most likely lose it, so I was disappointed when I noticed it earlier. I was keeping it through the second treatment out of principle.

First off let me say that losing your hair is difficult to describe. It’s weird. I thought I was prepared but I’m not sure anyone really is. Running my fingers through my hair resulted in a fistful of strands. Eventually, I’d notice hair hanging lower than others and if I tugged on it, it would pull out in clumps.

And brushing?! Holy cow. I could make small animals with what came out. This was from one gentle brushing yesterday.


Today I couldn’t wait any longer. I felt like PigPen and his dust cloud only mine was a cloud of fallen hair everywhere. On my clothes, on my desk, in every plate of food. It was time to get rid of it.

Am I ready?

I turned on All American Girl by Melissa Etheridge which felt fitting for the moment as well as the day and Patrick got started. This is another thing I can honestly say I never expected to be doing, but here we are.

I actually thought it would be funny to let it fall out naturally just to send funny progression photos to my family. If you met my family, you’ll understand. We all enjoy a good laugh, especially at each other’s expense. Which may sound mean, but my family is also fiercely protective of each other when necessary, so it’s a good balance. If my scalp didn’t hurt from the hair pulling, the slow fallout may have happened. The photo album would have been epic too because I’m pretty sure one side was losing it faster than the other. I already had one bald spot on the top.

Who wore it better?!

To stand in solidarity, Patrick asked me to shave his head too. It was such a sweet gesture, and I can’t even adequately express how much it means to me. I’m blessed to have him on my side. Losing my hair isn’t easy, but I’m thankful today to have this milestone over. It’s just hair and it will grow back one day. In the meantime, I get to play with wigs and hats and scarves. Fun!

January 13, 2021

Today I’m thankful for laughter. I’ve had many friends and family who have been checking in with me regularly to see how I’m doing or to let me know they’re thinking of me. And I’m beyond grateful for every one. Some also have been sending me funny photos or jokes. It’s really true that taking a moment to laugh makes it hard to stay anxious or sad or even tired.

I love a good joke or a funny meme. I have a Pinterest board where I save items and some days, I go to it and scroll through. Patrick always wants to know what in the world I’m laughing at, but I don’t even need to share it with him. I’m ok laughing by myself. Sometimes I find one particularly suited to someone, and I’ll send it on. Otherwise, I look and laugh and feel a little better for doing so.

Seriously? Can we just be done now.

The semester is over. Finally. I submitted my research proposal and took my last final exam yesterday. If all grading goes as well as I hope, I should finish this semester with a 4.0 gpa. Yay, me! If not, then, damnit, me. Or, if I were like a lot of the students here, it would be my instructor’s fault, of course. I’d say she just didn’t like me. But I know that’s not the case, so I’ll take whatever grades I get and keep plugging along, especially since my 4 week summer class starts next week. The instructor sent us the 48 page syllabus ahead of time…Gosh, I’m excited about that class. Gulp.

I like putting a period at the end of things. That means I can take a step and move on. I’m wishing that were the case with more than the semester. I found out that the miscarriage is still lingering. I’ve spent the last several weeks having my hormone levels checked with a blood test. Apparently, when a woman gets pregnant, her body starts producing a special hormone (hcg) that increases twofold every 2 to 3 days or so until the later months of pregnancy when it levels off. Blood tests measure it in number, and any number above a 5 is considered pregnant, although ideally the number should be zero in normal, non-pregnant conditions. My number this week registered at 117. I could go into a diatribe about my disappointment with my doctor at the moment and how things have been handled (or mishandled). Let me just say that his response was that something could still be left behind, but he’d like me to wait another couple of weeks to check my hormone levels again. Instead I made an appointment with a new doctor for next week.

In the meantime, my body hates me. I can feel it. I can feel that something is wrong. My regular female hormones are trying to take over in a raging battle that’s making me wish I were a dude. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. I felt on the verge of tears all day and had to avoid any cute baby animal-related videos on Facebook in case someone walked into my office at the wrong moment. Yet at the same time, I wanted to kick something. Hard. I secretly wished one of the posturing geese we have on campus would finally pick a fight. I would have won and it would have been epic. It’s a horrible feeling when you know you’re an emotional mess but you’re incapable of stopping it. You just have to hold on and try to avoid saying or doing anything that causes lasting damage. At one point in the day, my daughter texted asking for a favor. This was after finding out that I needed to stay an extra hour longer at work. And I was nice in my reply,  I really was. I even ended my message with a warning that I was not having a good day and she thanked me for the heads up. By 5 pm, just as I was heading to a new student orientation where I had to be available to answer questions of parents and their kids, I got a migraine aura. For those of you who’ve never experienced this, it’s like when you look into the flash of a camera and the ring of light stays behind in your eyes. I had those flashing, zigzagging lines in peripheral of my right eye which meant that I couldn’t see anyone coming at me from that side. I’m sure I looked like a weirdo constantly looking back and forth just so I could get a complete view of my surroundings. It lasted for almost an hour and  I braced myself for the migraine to follow. But it didn’t. Instead, all my hormone-filling angst of the day disappeared and I felt somewhat normal again. Damn, cruel body. I just saw the new Avengers movie and I realized that I can relate to the Hulk. At any moment, he turns into a wild beast and once he’s back to normal, he feels guilty and slinks away. I’m just hoping that I don’t also turn green.

I’m counting the minutes until I can meet my new doctor. I hope she takes one look at me and feels sympathy. I need to have this ordeal over. I tried to explain to my boyfriend last night how I’ve been feeling. I have to give him kudos for trying to understand, but I know I sound like a lunatic. Everything is horrible! Things aren’t working out. Maybe this is just a sign that we aren’t supposed to have a baby. When I get emotional like that, I miss having my family around. I need to feel connected to someone whom I know knows me. The people who can just laugh at me or slap me (not literally) and make me feel grounded again because I know they get it. I’m not crazy. But I now think Patrick gets it too. He did what I needed. Rationalized things for me. Teased me for being a mess. But also hugged me for a bit and told me things would be ok. Once again, I’m grateful for him. And for my kids, who also hugged me when I got home because I had given the heads up on my bad day. No questions asked first. Have I mentioned lately that I have great kids? So…I know I’ll get through things, like I usually do. It’s been a long time, but hopefully, I’ll have better answers next week. And I’ll try not to take anyone out in the meantime.

September 29

Today is National Coffee Day. I could end this post right now, but I’ll elaborate. Coffee and I have a thing going on. It’s a simpatico relationship, unmarred by addiction. I started drinking coffee as a teenager, but didn’t go through the phases of tolerance that a lot of people do, much like learning to enjoy good wine–starting with Riesling and working the way toward a nice Cabernet. I didn’t have to douse my coffee with copious amounts of cream and sugar and then start backing off. No, I started full strength, black. And that’s how I still prefer it. I will occasionally order a Cafe Latte, no sugar or special flavors, just the steamed milk. If I do branch out and order something ridiculous like a salted caramel mocha, it’s because I consider it a treat much like a dessert and I could feasibly have a black coffee on the side. Most people don’t believe me when I say I’m not addicted to the caffeine. Maybe I am, but I honestly can’t tell a physical difference when I drink it. And I’ll drink it off and on right up until bedtime some days. It doesn’t keep me awake. I don’t feel a physical need for it immediately upon waking. In fact I normally don’t have my first cup until I get to work. I have even gone entire days without having any and never experienced the headaches others complain about. Hard to believe, I know. Today I brewed some in my office (yes, I have a coffee pot on my desk) and several people commented about how wonderful it smells. Well, duh. It’s coffee. It’s wonderful in taste and smell. My love affair with coffee is based on just that. I love it. The taste, the smell, the warmth. I could live without it, but why? And today I’m thankful it has its own holiday.

August 19

Well, I have to admit something. Lately I’ve been so tired by the time I get around to writing at night that I struggle to even get through a post. I usually end up typing up something quickly on my iPad or my phone app while sitting in bed before I fall asleep. I’m sure it’s been noticeable; I feel I should apologize to everyone who’s actually reading this regularly. I for one, really dislike bad writing, so it’s been disappointing for me too. But when I started this blog, I did it with the intent of finding at least one thing a day to be grateful for and write about, so I’ve at least kept that commitment to myself. It may not have been exciting lately, but the process still gets me to think about my day. Sometimes it really is the mundane or even repetitive things that I realize I appreciate the most. Or something random. For instance, tonight my kids and I had dinner outside. I grilled chicken and made corn on the cob and mashed potatoes from a box. (Don’t judge me. It’s good if I measure things correctly.) It was a nice evening since the humidity went down and a breeze came through. My puppy had been a nuisance during meal preparation; he acts as if he’s never been fed. Ever. Even though I give him a teeny bit more than his weight/age suggestion, he seems to want more. He had eaten his dinner, yet still did the constant jumping up on the counter with one of us with responding with the automatic Down, Chance. So just before we sat down to eat, I filled his Kong toy with peanut butter hoping to keep him occupied. That lasted only a few minutes until he realized that it may be easier to sneak food off the table. And so ensued the puppy jumping and the responding Down, Chance, once again. Eventually he quit, we finished dinner, and as we got up to leave, Chance used his ninja skills to grab the remains of an ear of corn off a plate and take off with it. My kids began to chase. He darted and zigzagged through the yard. Just as Emma almost reached him, he half swallowed the ear, slowed down enough to gag it back up and took off running again. At this point, I was just enjoying the show. As was my neighbor from his back yard. It was just like a Three Stooges episode where Emma would grab, miss, and Chance would change direction. I finally yelled out to encourage my daughter, You were on the track team; catch him! She wasn’t amused, but Bree and I and the neighbor were. The neighbor dogs were barking; Bree and I were laughing. Chance finally stopped in an effort to simply chomp the corn cob as quickly as he could, and she got it away from him as it broke into pieces. The entire episode was unexpected dinner entertainment, and I was thankful to be there as a witness.

August 5

So when I moved into my house last summer I put in all new carpet. I picked out a nice, neutral frieze that I thought looked nice and would wear well. I liked the texture. It’s reminiscent of the old “shag” type (now called “twist”) which I thought looked a little modern, yet casual. Well, it turns out that frieze is just another word for grass. At least to a puppy. Apparently I have filled my house with a very neutral indoor bathroom for dogs. On so many fronts, my puppy has acclimated very well to his new home. He doesn’t bark at the neighbors. He gets along with the cat (ignores him). He has learned his name, how to sit, sleeps through the night, goes out his doggie door, and doesn’t jump on the furniture. He doesn’t have accidents on the kitchen tile where he’s usually confined. But expand his area to include that beautiful frieze and it’s like he has lost all sense. And I thought my kids being home would speed the potty training process along since there are more of us to keep an eye on him. But I forgot how their eyes get glued to electronics, which makes it easy for the little puppy butt to get into trouble. I’m not sure why I thought potty training would be easier. My oldest kid was three years old before she was trained, which I reminded her of last night when she was complaining about the dog. So that’s a problem that still needs to be solved. Crate training has been Googled. Again. The other is teething. I was prepared for the chewing and the many stuffed animals and bones and random items in his toy bucket can attest to it. What I forgot about was the addition of puppy playing. The proper formula goes something like Teething x Energy + Moving Objects/morning,evening = Painful Puppy Bites. He’s not aggressive, just eager to play. He usually doesn’t actually bite so much as try to nip in an effort to get someone to wrestle with him. At 6 am or pm mostly, which happens to be my least favorite time to play. I’ve Googled this as well. One article I read encouraged playing along until the puppy bites too hard, at which point one is supposed to simply stop and “be a tree.” Um…I’m pretty sure if a tree could move or swat at whatever was gnawing at it, it would. Trees would become Ents pretty dang quickly if they could feel dog teeth. Instinct is, of course, to jerk the hand (or foot or leg) away from his eager puppy mouth, and I have ninja skills when it comes to that. He’s not broken skin, but he’s pinched me pretty good a few times. I have the bruises to prove it. I imagine the neighbors are amused in the morning when I start dancing around the deck in my bathrobe trying to avoid his teeth. Usually he stops pretty quickly with the distraction method. Therefore, I try to keep toys nearby to thrust between his jaws and a few minutes of tug of war helps. I’m grateful he’ll eventually grow out of some of that. I know we’ll also, eventually, get the potty training done. He’s a pretty smart dog and I’m not 100% exhausted yet. And thankfully for him he’s got his cuteness going for him. It’s hard to stay mad for too long.

July 10

So I was texting with my mom today about house projects and tv shows and how there isn’t enough time for everything. Here’s how our exchange went:

Mom   Clone yourself.
Me    Ha! There’s an idea.
Mom   I think the world could use a few more of you.
Me    I’m not sure the world could handle it.
Mom   We could send out a memo preparing everyone for it.
Me    Doomsday.
Mom   No, no…wrong train of thought. More like a multiple blessing.
Me    Aw, thanks!
Mom   I only speak the truth. Unless I’m texting your sister Jenny. Haha!

I love my mom. I really thought she was being sarcastic, which would not surprise me in the least. After all she’s not the type of mom who’s blind to my faults, some of which had come up in a prior phone conversation. Instead, she was being sweet and I was thankful for that today. I needed it. Of course, I love that she ended our exchange with a sense of humor. I’m guessing my sister, who reads this blog, knows what my mom was referring to. My mom isn’t really a liar. But she does like a good joke.

April 28

I am thankful today that my students have a sense of humor. While I was out sick most of the work day, I did feel a bit better by late this afternoon, so I taught my class tonight. Immediately when I walked in, they asked what was wrong with me. Even though I tried to hide it, my allergy eyes gave me away. The nurse at the immediate care clinic yesterday described it accurately. She looked at me in shock and said, oh honey! That must hurt. You look like you’ve been burned. Yes. I look like someone tried to burn a raccoon mask around my eyes. And now my students have seen me at my worst and had great fun teasing me about how miserable I looked. But that’s ok; I’m the one giving out grades in a couple of weeks…

March 31

Ok. I’ve had some trouble this past week with my internet connection at home. All week long it would work intermittently. You know how incredibly frustrating it is to be in the middle of a show and have it stop midstream. And then get the error message from Netflix, saying it can no longer connect. It was a good thing I was distracted by the warmer weather. However, this past weekend, it got to the point where it was out more often than it was working. I was doing my blog from my cell phone, which has its own unique frustrations (part of the reason I wasn’t writing all that much). At any rate, late yesterday I had had enough and called my internet provider. The guy on the phone was trying to be helpful, but I kept having to ask him to repeat himself because I couldn’t understand him over his accent and mumbling. We were both getting exasperated. At one point, he asked something about the DSL cable and where it was located and whether I could see all of it. I answered that the router was very close to the wall jack and therefore, most of the line was wrapped up behind my TV cabinet. Apparently that was a problem. He said I should unwind the cable because the kinks could be causing the difficulty. Really?! I did not know this. I didn’t realize that electricity and internet magic could only follow straight lines. To mollify his questioning, I went ahead and unwound the entire 10 foot cable. It did not make a difference. Could it perhaps be caused by the fact that the cable going into my house is simply laying across the ground outside? I asked. And that we’ve had several rainy days lately? That prompted an appointment by a technician who came today.

Now this is the fourth time in the past nine months that I’ve had to call because of internet problems. Each time, the technician comes out and does something different. Last time I got a new router. This time, the tech laughed when I mentioned the coiled cable inside my house. That shouldn’t matter, he said. Instead, he tacked up the outside line, put a filter on the outside of my house, and fixed a problem at the junction box. Then, when I asked about the fact that the house phone I’m supposed to have hasn’t worked from day one, he went back out and somehow got the phone line connected. My old rotary wall phone does indeed work. Well, only for incoming calls, we discovered. Apparently, my service contract doesn’t include outgoing calls. Really?! What is the point of that and how did I not know this? I guess when I discovered that the TV/internet/phone bundle was cheaper than just TV/internet alone, I agreed to a house phone. I should have read the fine print. At any rate, I am thankful today to have my internet working again (for now) and thankful to know that the old phone I bought off of eBay last year actually does work. And I know it works because I got a phone call on it right after the technician left. It was a collections call for whoever last owned my home phone number. And you know how those calls start with if you are xyz person, press 1, if you are not the person we are looking for, press 2? Well, they really mean press a button. Rotary dialing doesn’t work. This should be interesting…

March 21

It struck me when I got the mail tonight that the huge mound of snow which almost covered my mailbox is almost gone. Just like that. It’s funny because I had gotten so used to tiptoeing carefully out to get the mail. Every time the snow plows would go by, they’d push the snow up higher and higher in front of the box so the post wasn’t even visible. It was like my little black mailbox was sitting at the top of its own snow hill. And the built-up ice on the ground in front was precarious. Whenever we’d get a bit of a thaw, there would be a pool of water at the end of my drive, which would then freeze back over. I’d have to shuffle across the ice, step carefully to the mailbox and then onto another step I had created in the snow bank just so I could reach across the three feet of snow far enough to grab the mail without falling. Or if it was just too darn cold to even walk out there, I’d drive my car up as close as I could, which was still about 3 feet away. My car would sit at an angle while I opened the door, rolled down the window and hung out through the hole just to reach out far enough to open the door on the mailbox. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m a little crazy. But today, I was able to walk right up and get the mail, with only a small patch of snow and ice to contend with. I was thankful for that.

I was convinced all winter that I was going to slip one day and hurt myself. I have a tendency to trip over my own feet. And when I fall, I do so fabulously. It’s the stuff of cartoons. Once, when I lived in the country, unbeknownst to me, my entire yard became a sheet of ice. As I trudged to my car (I had no garage) I slipped, my entire body went airborne straight up in the air, and I came down on my back. My purse, my work bag, my coffee mug went flying. I lay there, stunned, coffee pouring out around my head, papers and junk scattered around me until a one of the outside cats slinked over and meowed. I chipped a bone in my elbow on that fall.

Another time, I was on my way into work. The concrete steps were covered in rubber, and because it was winter and my shoes were wet, I slipped going down the stairs when my heel hit the edge of the stair. Again, I flew up and came straight down on my back. This time I not only had my bags of junk, but I was also talking on my cell phone. Everything went flying. My cell phone landed at the bottom of the stairs and broke apart. Papers scattered. And I just sort of slid down the stairs on my back, completely winded. And hurt. I collected my items and limped to my office. I called the girlfriend I was talking to at the time to let her know why we were so rudely disconnected. She laughed, of course. But wow, you should have seen the bruises I sported about a week later.

Unfortunately, those falls were unwitnessed. Which is too bad because I’m sure they were hilarious. I wish I could have seen myself; I would have laughed. Another good fall I had did have a witness. It was inside at work when I was escorting a copy machine repair man down to the work room so I could unlock the door for him. As we rounded a corner, I stepped on the side of my high heeled shoe and twisted my ankle. I went down so hard on my hands and knees that my hands made an echoing slap against the floor. I’m laughing as I write this. The poor guy tried to pretend nothing happened. Thankfully, only my pride was hurt that time. And even more thankfully, no one from our police department witnessed it on the security camera. At least no one ever mentioned it to me.

So, I’m glad today I made it through the ice and snow without a major fall. At least so far. And if I have one coming up, I earnestly hope there are witnesses to enjoy it.