Phase V

I started phase five this morning.  I started off with my spinal tap and later got my vincristine.  The good news is that I’m done with that for a whole month.  I began my dose of decadron.  They halved the normal dose since I am so sensitive to steroids.  I’m back to doing my evening finger prick to monitor my blood sugar and I have to call the office if it spirals out of control again.  Fortunately, I only take the ‘roids one week out of the month.  I also started the 6MP, which is one of my oral chemo drugs.  This is the one that I will be taking every single day for the next two years.  I took it a few hours ago, I pre-medicated with an anti-emetic, and I’m still nauseous.  I may actually lose some weight this round.  I start an oral MTX next week, it is something that I will take weekly.  We’ve already run into a snafu. though.  Not only is MTX in short supply and expensive (THANK YOU PHARMACEUTICAL MONOPOLIES!) but they don’t make it in the oral dose that I need to take.  To take what is available to me, I will have to take 14 pills at a time.  We are calling the research nurse in the morning to see if there are any alternatives, but I’m not counting on it.  We’ll see.

Anyway, I’ve got a headache and I’m having hot flashes.  I’m going to *try* to go to bed after I get the pork in the crock pot for tomorrow’s dinner.

night

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Menu planning

We hope to have some changes in the Morgan household soon.  These will be awesome changes, but they come with a price.  Literally.  If this works out (I don’t want to say anything yet) we will be tightening our belts for a few months because P will have to take a cut in his hours at work.  We already live pretty well within our means, but we aren’t that good at budgeting.  It’s actually quite sad since I took a class on how to budget and everything.  We don’t have a lot of frivolous things, so there isn’t much room for cutting funds.  I would say that our only “luxury” is Netflix and we’re not quite at the point where it will have to go.  However, we do spend a lot on our grocery bill.

It’s not a good practice, I know, but we tend to hit the store on an “as needed” basis.  That means that we impulse shop and it adds to our gas bill.  I’ve loosely planned weekly menus and made it through one day .  I’ve planned detailed weekly menus and thrown them out the window.  This time, since I have to get in the habit before we feel the crunch, I’ve decided on a different planning approach.  I will plan a menu for one day.  There will be plenty of leftovers.  As for the rest of the week, I will rely on a supply of pre-cooked staples and a freezer full of veggies.  Easy peasy….I hope.  Anyway, I’m going to link dump the recipes I’m going to use and put up my “meal plan” for the sake of convenience.  I know it’s kind of tacky, so I apologize.

The “Big Meal” and meats will be cooked on Monday since that’s when P is home and we’re together as a family.  Also, Monday tends to be a slow day as far as appointments and errands go.

The Big Meal:

Strawberry Pulled Pork from Technically Paleo ( originally from Stuff I Make My Husband)

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese from StellaStyle

and this Red Cabbage Salad. (I will use spring onion in place of a regular onion because I don’t care much for raw onion)

Tha Staples:

Meats: burger patties and crumbles, chicken drumsticks and breasts

I was stoked to find a recipe for a Lawry’s type of seasoning salt.  I love Lawry’s but I can’ eat it.  It’s called Spicy Seasoning Salt.  I will be using this stuff on everything until I start getting complaints.

Roughage: veg and salad stuff

After talking with P, he has requested that I start keeping a quiche in the fridge at all times.  He says that it’s much easier for him to eat something light when he gets home from work and if he knows he’s got something to look forward to in the fridge, he’ll be less tempted to “make a quick run to the store” after work.  I’m cool with that since a quiche is one of the few ways that I can stomach egg these days.

So, for “breakfast” items, I’m going to make a:

Quiche – this week it will be bacon and cheddar

and I’m going to try out a Breakfast Casserole (with added cheddar).  If it goes well, meaning it doesn’t suck, I’ll probably keep one of those in the fridge as well.

And since I promised, the kids will be having ice cream sundaes to celebrate the first day of school.

Life

Everything is still pretty quiet around here.  I have yet to hear anything about the next phase, which sort of irks me.  I’m a planner.  I feel out of sorts when I don’t know what to expect.  I’ve been trying to make plans, but I’m a bit uneasy with it since I don’t know if/when I’m going to have to make changes.  Until then, I’m planning out the rest of the month.

We start homeschool next week.  We’ve switched homeschool associations and I’ve been having trouble with the new one.  I filled out the enrollment application and paid back in June, but I still have not received my membership packet even though I should have gotten it no later than July 1st.  I’ve sent two emails and left a message on their voicemail, but I have yet to have any contact with a person.  I’m getting worried, but their outgoing message addresses the problem (apparently, many families didn’t get their packet) and says that it should be rectified by the weekend.  I’m antsy about waiting, especially since I want to start next week, but there isn’t much I can do.  I’ll give them until Monday and then I’ll make some sort of contact demanding a refund and I’ll find another homeschool association.

Until then, I’m still wading through the new curriculum and trying to figure out how it works.  It’s free and it’s supposed to be really good, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how it works…the planning and record keeping part, not the lessons.  I’m going to use it as a supplement to the Well Trained Mind method.  It’s what we started using when we first started homeschooling all those years ago, but we left after a year because neither C nor I were ready for that level of schooling.  C and D were both pretty bored last year so I think that it’s time to go back to the trivium.  I want to have the online curriculum included as a supplement so that the grandmother’s will be able to do lessons with the kids if we end up in another hospital situation again.  I certainly don’t plan on it happening, but better safe than sorry.  The kids didn’t get much schooling last December and January with all that was going on so they lost a good deal of their summer break in order to make up the days.  In the interest of avoiding that problem, I hope to have an easy to follow “emergency” lesson plan for just in case.

I’ve had lots of energy since I’ve got a full tank of blood and I’ve been chemo-free for a little while.  That means that I’ve been playing catch-up with laundry and sorting through old clothes.  I’ve finally bitten the consignment bullet and I plan to participate in my first Upstate Kids Consignment sale in September.  That means that I’ve got to organize, clean, iron, label, and tag two rubbermaid containers of kids clothes.  On the plus side, the kids finally have a manageable amount of clothing.  It really helps with laundry.  I’ve been paring down our blankets and I hope to whittle down the sheet count.  I used to think that you couldn’t have too many sheets, but now I’m not so sure.  It seems like sheets are the main component of the laundry piles.  And since I loathe folding and putting sheets/blankets away, they’re the items that get pushed in the back.  Now I just need to force myself to do the same with our books.  The very idea makes me sad.  I luuurve my books and I hate parting with them.  Unfortunately, space is precious in our house and it’s not something that we have an abundance of.  It’s a good thing our pitiful little library participates in a statewide lending program.

The last item on the books is that I plan to attend my first Dragon*Con at the end of the month.  I’m going to tag along with my bestie and her fella.  Fortunately, they don’t mind the third wheel.  I’ve been wanting to attend for years, but I’ve never gone.  I really wanted to cross something off my bucket list so P said it could be my birthday present.  I wish that he was going to be there, but he’s gotta work (or keep the kids in case gran isn’t up to a grand-baby sleepover).  I’m excited to go, but I’m a bit worried about being able to keep my stamina.  I think a big downside to all this chemo is the fact that I feel so old.  I tucker out pretty easily and my body just hurts.  I’ve been trying to stay as active as I can (for a shut-in) in the hopes that my stamina will build up.  I’ve been eyeballing the kettlebell.  I don’t think I’m up for Turkish get-ups, but I can probably handle a farmer’s carry around the house.

Well, I think that’s all for right now.  I’ve been in the kitchen a bit, but I’ve been keeping it all pretty simple.  For tonight’s dinner, all I did was chop up some radishes, celery, and carrots and I served them with some simple baked drumsticks and some fried potatoes and onions.

Quick and easy drumsticks

Rinse and dry however many drumsticks you want to cook.  For seasoning, I mixed up some dried tarragon and dried parsley and pulverized it with a mortar and pestle.  I threw in some salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  (I could have left out the parsley, as it did nothing for the chicken.)  I melted the last bit of the ghee and drizzled it over the drumsticks (these had been placed in a pie dish – since I don’t make pies, it’s an excellent roasting dish) and sprinkled the spices over the meat.  I baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes – rotate around the 20-minute mark.  Pull them out and loosely cover for about 5 minutes so the meat can rest.  Chow down and don’t forget to save your bones for stock!

Fried potatoes and onion

For this one, I diced up two small potatoes (maybe around tennis ball sized) and I sliced and quartered about 1/2 a white onion (because that’s what I had).  I browned a few tablespoons of butter (use real butter, please) and threw the taters ‘n onions in the skillet with my trusty garlic powder and salt.  I may have dashed some pepper in there, but I don’t remember.  Give it a stir and then loosely cover and let it sit for a minute over mid to mid-high heat.  Then give it another stir every few minutes until the potatoes are soft (we want the potatoes to keep their shape, so don’t overcook) .  It’s simple food, but it’s tasty and cheap.  If you add some meat, you’ve got yourself a hash.

Still waiting…

There isn’t much to report.  I had my biopsy last week and now we’re just waiting to hear back.  I’m a nervous wreck, but I always am when I’m waiting for results.  I don’t have any appointments this week other than stopping into the office to get my dressing changed.  As much as I complain about the procedures, I think this is the part that I hate the most.  I’m so scared that I’m going to get another “I’m sorry” phone call.

I’m still not doing much cooking.  I made chicken with 40 cloves of garlic on Friday with parsley potatoes and a salad.  It was tasty but it didn’t agree with me.  I love garlic, but  I tend to forget that I can’t eat copious amounts without repercussion.  We ate our way through leftovers on Saturday and we ordered takeout on Sunday.  P and I cleaned out the fridge last night so I could have a clean slate this week.  We’ll probably be eating pasta most of this week because we had to buy a new car battery yesterday and we really need to get new tires.
I’m sure D won’t mind because she loves pasta and it’s something that she doesn’t get very often.

Well, I guess that’s all there is to report.  I’m really tired today because we stayed up to watch the Curiosity rover last night.  D tried to make it, but she passed out and C eagerly awaited the “big moment”, but he was just happy to stay up late.

Waiting

Things have been pretty quiet since I returned from my stint in the hospital.  One of my dear friends got married last Saturday so P and I went to NC for the wedding.  It was at a place called the Garden Retreat and it was beautiful.  I was so thankful for the transfusions because they gave me the energy I needed to make it through.  I met a few new people.  One thing I can say is that being a cancer patient make a pretty good conversation starter.

I received my last Erwinia shot ever on Monday.  I feel kinda bad because I was testy with the AIC nurses when I should have been saying my goodbyes.  I think I will be seeing them for one more treatment though, so I will hopefully have another chance.

My biopsy was Wednesday.  I was snappy and irritable while I waited for my premeds.  I actually did snap at one assistant when she asked me if I would be willing to forgo my premeds and go ahead with the biopsy.  A little afterwards, I cried to on one of the nurses because I was so scared.  It was all for naught, though, because the ativan and morphine did bupkis.  The biopsy hurt worse than ever.  I screamed and cried like a child.  P said that everyone was worried about me but I’m embarrassed.  They ended up giving me more ativan and morphine after they were finished, so I ended up sleeping most of the day away.  I’ve been having trouble dealing with things though.  I still break out in tears when I think about it and I’m terrified of having another one done.

Now I’m just waiting on my next appointment.  I’m supposed to start two different oral chemo meds and I’m supposed to get vincristine and another spinal tap on Day One of Phase Five, whenever that may be.  I’m nervous, and as a result, I’ve got a pretty short temper.  I’m trying really hard to reign it in, but I’ve got no patience for, well I don’t know what to call it…let’s say carelessness.  I really don’t want to be around anyone right now because nobody understands what I’m going through and what I’m feeling and I know some people that take my irritation and nervousness personally instead of attempting to understand what’s going on beneath the surface.  Unfortunately, I cannot hide myself in my home.  I’ve made commitments to be around people, so I will put on my smile and pretend that everything is okay.

Quiet

I haven’t abandoned the blog, things have just been quiet.  I haven’t been doing much cooking lately.  This past week, I had P grab a couple of rotisserie chickens and we’ve been working on those since I knew I wasn’t going to be up for much in the kitchen.  I’ll get back to things soon enough.  I’m just resting for now.

I’m home

I came home from the hospital after getting another two units of blood yesterday.  That makes a total of 6 units of blood and 2 units of platelets for the week.  The good news is that all of the little scrapes and bruises and petichiae on my body are finally healing and my skin is back to a normal color.

I started chemo again today and I’m tired. I’ve been trying to sleep off a headache most of the day and it seems to be finally abating. I hope to be getting back to rights soon.  Until then, I’m trying to keep cool because our AC is wonky and it’s hot out.  I have a serious love/hate relationship with southern summers right now.

Until then,

-e