Friday, February 02, 2007

Groundhog Day and Sticky Stuff

Punxsutawney Phil couldn't see his shadow today. That means an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

My version of Groundhog Day is February 8. The radiologist and my neuro-oncologist will be looking for shadows on the MRI film, in order to tell me whether I have eight more weeks of the same treatment, or whether we have to scramble for a new approach. I have remained symptom-free (with the exception of losing two games of Scrabble this week -- to my husband, who is slightly dyslexic), so I'm hoping that the MRI will be nice and clear.

Taking life in eight-week intervals has become pretty routine, and while it presents some logistical challenges (it's hard to make travel plans far in advance), I'm always finding more and more delights in the craziest things.

For example, how many people wake up and give thanks for boogers? I'm sure most little kids don't. They are usually trying to dig that sticky stuff out of their nose as quickly as they can sense it. But I've come to appreciate the sticky stuff. (Lucky me--getting cancer so I can learn to be grateful for snot!) Between chemotherapy and dry winter heat, my nasal passages have dried and cracked to the point where I'm frequently blowing out red stuff. I battle it with humidifiers and saline spray and antibacterial ointment on a cotton swab, but this condition is still pretty stubborn. I met another patient in the chemo clubhouse who has the same problem. I know that this is a gross topic to discuss (hope you aren't eating while you read this) but once your head has been cracked open it's easy to get desensitized to gross things.

I still remember watching a children's television show with my son, where they lined a big pipe with sticky goo and then used a fan to blow feathers and junk through the pipe, in order to illustrate how mucus works in our nose to trap the dirt and germs that we inhale. When the sticky stuff is gone, and when the pipe is cracked, the dirt and germs can go places they shouldn't. This was especially worrisome when last week's lab results showed a dip in my immune system, but it's rebounding now, so I may be able to fight most of what is inhaled directly into my bloodstream.

I also try imagining that maybe this might make it easier to blow the tumor cells out of my head through my nose. Probably not really, but it's a good mental image to focus on.

According to Punxsutawney Phil, the days of dry winter weather will soon be over. Hopefully next week's MRI will predict eight more weeks of successful chemotherapy, but as the warm weather and humidity return, maybe it will also herald the return of protective nose goo. And I'll have yet another thing to give thanks for.

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