May 9, 2000|
It’s been awhile since I have done an update of my condition and myself, and since I JUST FINISHED MY LAST UNDERGRADUATE EXAM (woohoo!) I thought I would very quickly give an art update to celebrate! 🙂
Schoolwise, I am just about done. My last paper and last exam were today. yay! I have one more task left before graduation, though- the massive independent study/senior thesis. In a nutshell, it was a social psychology study I did last semester with my wonderful professor/advisor Anne Cummings on how personality, goal-setting, and conflict effect performance within a team. The study went decently well and all I have to finish now is the final data analyses and the final paper summerizing the results. There still is a lot of hard work to do, the kind of work that makes your head hurt like after eating ice cream too fast, but I am excited to finish it and can’t wait to see the results. If it goes REALLY well, it may be project I repeat on a grandeur scale for my dissertation when I go on to get my PhD in couple years.
Healthwise, things have gone very well. The lymph nodes are down almost completely in my chest and neck according to my doc. the x-rays have shown great progress. Two more weeks of treatment are left, with three sessions to go. This week I have double session with a drip, meaning that I have to go in two days in a row for an hour long IV drip of chemo. usually it takes about 5 minutes to actually administer the drugs, so this is the long one. After that I get a CT Scan, upon which, if all looks good, I am cleared and healed. From there I get CT Scans every two months for a year to make sure all is clear.
My fear of needles has gone down substansially, but I still require a styrofoam cup to chew on when Nurse Gerri is putting it in. I have actually saved all of my cups and look forward to bronzing them 🙂 I can say that my fear has gone because of an incident two weeks ago. I usually have the same nurse (Gerri, who puts up with me and my jabs amazingly well and dishes it back to me even worse) adminster the chemo, but two weeks ago Gerri left work early. Instead I had another nurse, who shall remain nameless. Well, she stuck the IV in my hand after freezing the viens with freezy spray (which no one who goes to Penn chemo gets except for me, yeah, I am a wimp), but it wasn’t connected well, so blood was gushing like a geyser from the IV. Had it been 8 weeks ago when I started I would have freaked out, but instead I was calm and chill as blood sprayed all over her pants and the floor. In the meanwhile, the nurse just kinda looked at it for like three minutes and was like, “wow, that’s weird! these IVs connectors don’t work like they used to…” In the meanwhile blood was everywhere and i was close to passing out. All was fixed though and I learned how much I missed nurse Gerri.
In terms of side effects, they have become more prominent, but they also have become a part of me, so that I many times just forget about what they are because I am so used to them. When people ask, it usually takes me awhile to think about what they are. But I do have them. My fingertips (and more recently) my hands have become numb. I can still use them fine, but it is just a weird feeling to have 24-7. My hair also has become amazingly thin, so I shaved it down to 3/8ths of an inch. Let me just say that it gets cold up there really quick, so I wear a hat a lot. The wind is just wicked up there! In addition, I get pretty nasty stomache aches and nausea- but I have good drugs and I eat a lot (gained 10 pounds so far! none of my jeans fit anymore, i can only wear khakis!) to combat those two. I sometimes lose my sense of taste, or it makes my food taste chemically. I can’t wait to taste the sweet-succulant taste of mountain dew again.:) Probably the toughest part is fatigue. I get tired pretty quickly and exhaustion sets in, and then, almost literally my body crashes. It’s weird though, because even though I am so tired, it doesn’t put me to sleep.
The really cool thing, that my doc is baffled at, is my placet and red blood count. They are at the SAME level as when I first started chemo- that shouldn’t happen! They have yet to drop! Why? My guess is prayers from good people like yourself. There is no other explanation that I could, or Dr. Alavi, could come up with.
Despite all the side effects, life goes on and I have been active (but I do get rest, 8 hours of sleep a night, I promise!) and able to maintain a pretty normal life. I was even able to play in an intramural softball team with my kids (my residents in my hall, being their RA and all…) and play second base, while ending the season batting 1.000. The highlight of our season was beating a team comprised of neurology PhD students 15-4. I still have kept up with RA duties and my kids have been great about helping me out, and they still come to me with their issues. I am really going to miss being an RA. I did my last TV show on Sunday, culminating with a highlight show of my four years hosting the call-in talk show. It was a cool way to go out. And, after two years of work with the university chaplain, we finally secured a building on campus for religious life groups to meet next year, kind of like a religious life hub. It was cool to see that work out to before I left.
Because I kinda retired unofficially from my other jobs and activities I have had a chance, for the first time in my college career, to really hang out and focus on friendships and people- and it has been so rewarding. I remember telling my interviewers at my future employer, Goldman Sachs, that my weakness was that I focus too much on production and work and less on the people I am working with/or managing. Well, this semester I have had a great chance to work on that and see how amazing and rewarding it is to invest my life in people and have them invest their’s in mine. Just having the free time to be able to hang out till 3am talking is a freedom I haven’t always had. Really, I couldn’t end off my college career on a better lesson or on a better note. It has been an amazing four years, and an even more amazing semester. wow! what a way to end off a college career. it’s been tough this past semester, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
So thanks for your email, cards, prayers and support. My wall is still full of cards and I still get great emails everyday. If all goes well, I’ll be done with chemo on May 19th, and I’ll be graduating (yeah, and I just got an email that I won some mystery senior Wharton undergraduate award- they won’t tell me till graduation what it is so…anyways thats cool too, I thought I would share) on the 21st and 22nd. After that back to Ohio to rest and recover for a month and then from there on to New York City and Goldman Sachs in July. So thanks again, I appreciate all you have done and look forward to talking to all of you soon!
ps if you read all the way down to here, you win a prize! call me to claim it 🙂