Monday, March 23, 2015

The In Between Place

I realize now that I am in The In Between Place. Title Case cap like that because it makes it more romantic, a Destination. Which it is, even if it does seem neither here nor there, wishy washy which at least includes a wish for. I am no longer sick but not totally well yet, and here is where it starts to unravel, reminding me of Britney Spears' I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman, which for some reason always made me think of the word taint. How quickly it all goes from point A to point perineum.
Not sure why this raccoon other than he speaks to me today. You, too, right?

This morning I just so happened to check my bank account and found a bunch of unauthorized transactions totaling $1,142.95 all made to an online Chinese gaming website called ChangYou. I thought it was some sort of sign that I need to make a personal life change of some sort until I looked closer and realized it's not Change You but ChangYou. I guess the only sign here is that I need to cancel that card. Or maybe it's a sign that it's all an unauthorized game that I didn't realize I was playing. Or there is no sign. Yeah. Probably that.

Probably being the key word. Possibly. Interchangeable with I dunno.' Because if I had to write a travel brochure for The In Between Place it would probably have some bullet points about how some mornings are perfect for going back to sleep while other mornings make you want to spring out of bed and dance your ass off to The Specials. Most definitely there would need to be this photo of a sassy Peter Allen next to that bullet point, even though to my knowledge Peter Allen had nada to do with The Specials. 
Because that's how I feel sometimes in The In Between Place. Like maracas and spangly lycra, all hips, behind me everything a blur. While other days I feel more like the raccoon, slow, timid. In general I am strong again, physically almost the same as I was pre-treatment, but I leave that almost there because. I get tired easily. Especially in the sun. A day in the hot sun makes me feel nauseated, exhausted. I guess chemo makes you very susceptible to sun damage, and ugh. Which makes me scared. And oof. I should also mention in the travel brochure for The In Between Place that sometimes communication is best done through sounds. Bah. Eh. Mm. K?

I get the feeling I am not doing a faboo job of selling The In Between Place, not that it really needs to be sold. If you're there, you're there and here we are. But that's the beauty of The In Between you have to be kind to yourself. Feel like going back to bed? Ok then, off you go. Don't beat yourself up, just nestle in. Want to turn up the volume and dance around to A Message To You, Rudy? Awesome! Go for Concrete Jungle while you're at it. It's all good here in The In Between Place. There is no expectation to change yourself or chang yourself even. In fact, I have no way of ending this post and that's cool, too. That should probably be the tagline for this brochure...The In Between Place: That's Cool, Too™.

Maybe you're here for your own reasons. If so, high five, hug, and/or we can ignore each other and go back to sleep. Or you're not really here but just stopping by to say hi, in which case, refer to the tagline.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 2015 (Hair) Farmer's Almanac

I haven't posted much lately simply because I have a new and very important job of Growing My Hair Out, second only to my first job title, CEO of the Chemo Recovery Unit, wedged somewhere in between my responsibilities as Chief Operator of Closet Organization, Taker of Too Many Cat Photos, and VP of Swallowing Handfuls of Vitamins So That My Pee Is Impressively Neon, L.L.C. 

IRL (In Real Life, for those who actually have a real enough life not to recognize the acronym), I am a writer at a cosmetics company. Now, while I love nothing more than a long morning of unloading the dishwasher and then climbing back in bed to read because unloading the dishwasher is exhausting, I do miss IRL. My job...the office chatter, the silly stories, the "circling back," the "putting a pin" in things, but also the writing about beauty products. So I thought I'd merge IRL with MLRN (My Life Right Now) and write about what I'm using in my current position of Managing Foreman Hair Farmer.*

*Bonus points that I don't have to run anything by legal and regulatory because bold faced fine print: THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. I don't actually know what I'm talking about unless you count too much time spent reading crap on the internet about hair growth products, in which case I should totally get a raise.

First up: the obvious heavy hitter Nioxin. Perhaps not so obvious: I am wearing my glasses because they make me look like I know what I'm talking about. The most obvious of all: I don't really know what I'm talking about, except that everything I read online said to use Nioxin over Rogaine after chemo. So I promptly bought Nioxin and only feel slightly silly lathering up my bald head with shampoo and conditioner. I refuse to repeat.
See also: all wigs used in this post are from the kids' dress up box, i.e. I would never rock one of these IRL or even MLRN, although the above long black bob may be a look I pass through in a few years time. This turquoise Garth, not so much...
True story: I once doubled the marshmallow amount while making Rice Krispie Treats because I figured if 4 cups of marshmallows was yummy then 8 cups would be heavenly. Of course it was an inedible brick of corn starch and I ended up throwing the whole thing in the trash because I couldn't pry it out of the pan. It is this same faulty reasoning that made me think that if one Nioxin product is effective, then 5 is...?
Yes, I bought Nioxin shampoo, conditioner and three different treatments. No clue what one treatment does over the other. How many ways can you grow hair? It was only after I bought them, opened and used them did I hear that there is a rebound effect with Nioxin, meaning that it works, sure, but once you stop using it you shed hair at a faster rate. Also? I don't know why my hand looks so small in the above photo, or my head so large. I look sad. Perhaps a side effect of too much Nioxin and/or a Monster High wig.

I am currently undecided if I should stop using the Nioxin (thoughts?), but what I do feel good about is Biotin.
The au naturale route, Biotin is a conenzyme necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids and assists in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. It strengthens hair, nails, and may help treat nerve damage. I take 10,000mcg/day which is on the high end. Double down on the marshmallows and all that...

Which brings me to Goop, as all beauty roads lead to Gwyneth. My friend told me that she read an article in which Gwyneth swears by Viviscal, so duh. I did a little research and bought some, too. Viviscal is a supplement that contains vitamin C, Niacin, Biotin (more!), Iron and Zinc, plus millet seed and horsetail extract, which just sounds hairy, so. Something about nourishing from the inside out makes me feel better about being so shallow as to care about not having hair.
Just noticed I am flashing some sort of gang sign in the above photo. 'V' for Viviscal or vagina, you choose. Or we can just call it a Victory.

Speaking of shallow--next up we have lashes and brows. Also, I ran out of wigs.
Full disclosure: I ordered Latisse while still in Israel because nothing makes you feel sicker than not having eyelashes or eyebrows. Latisse comes with individual applicators, one for each eye so you don't spread infection. I use it on my top lash first, then sweep whatever is left over on the applicator onto my eyebrows. So far, I haven't seen a big difference on my lashes. They are still pretty sparse. But holy chia pet, people! My eyebrows are like 7th grade Susannah, before the 90's came along and I tried to replicate Drew Barrymore's eyebrows from her Guess campaign. Suffice it to say, my eyebrows are currently the hairiest part of my body, which is a surprisingly sexy look.

So that's my current regimen. Along with taking magnesium, turmeric, CoQ, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. I am a veritable vitamin-taking, hair-growing machine. 

As such, I tried taking an up close photo of my hair to show you how it is growing, but up close it looks like a manscaped scrotum that has been neglected. So instead you get this moody shot. I swear there is hair there. Hopefully more to come, because this Hair Farmer's Almanac sees a season of growth in the next month or two, along with strong nails, clear skin and pee so neon bright it glows in the dark. Sometimes side effects are actually quite cool.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Do YOU Do All Day? (Day +49, For Old Times' Sake)

I am the fat kid making fun of himself before anyone else does. Which I am pretty sure is not PC to say anymore, reference to fun or fat or kid (not to mention that for some sexist reason I feel even wronger writing "fat kid making fun of herself"), but here I am in the hair essentials aisle at Target having found myself in a fugue state staring at shampoo. What? Oh, yeah.
Not pictured: Target Team Member stocking the shelves who seemed unsure if he should ask if I needed any help. Ma'am? Do you need me to take that picture of you standing in front of the hair essentials aisle looking lost? Nah, I'm good, thanks.

(I realize nobody else cares that I am bald but me, but still I will tell you this: sometimes while sleeping I move my head and feel what I think is a hair tie that I forgot to take out, something bunching uncomfortably, pulling. Like a phantom limb, I have phantom hair, and yes, it gets stuck in my lipgloss, too.)

The good news is that my family now has a jumbo vat of Krazy Glue lest we find ourselves needing to put things back together again, a boatload of AA batteries (buttload seems so very wrong in that context, make that any context), plus a jumbo pack of light bulbs featuring the wrong size base. What do you do all day? people ask me, mainly Bryan, who wants to know what I do when they leave the house for school and work. So I point to the cabinet where we now have enough toilet paper to see us through a month's worth of bad curry, back stock of Windex, Tilex and something that makes our laundry smell the most laundriest, then I show him how I organized my sweaters. When that does not seem to impress him enough I send him this video of Ike and Cinque loving each other to the sweet sounds of brown chicken brown cow, because nothing says raison d'ĂȘtre like making a video of feline foreplay. And then watching it too many times to be socially acceptable.
Do you feel the slightest bit duped right now? As if making a video of your cats getting it on isn't bad enough, watching a video of someone else's cats getting it on is pretty much the lowest of the low. Sorry.

But the worst was when I was at Target yesterday and realized I had left my Fitbit at home. Because WTF is the purpose of walking if I don't get any credit for it? I told Bryan about this travesty later and he asked me what kind of credit I got, like credit points toward something? I wanted to bite him on the neck like Ike bites Cinque, shake him around a bit, because I'm talking about credit for personal glory, duh. I ordered a Fitbit when I got back from Tel Aviv to monitor my activity, egging myself on to walk more, do more, be more. So far I am up to 10,000 steps per day which is not a lot a lot, but is a lot if you just had chemo. Which I did. Oh also, I'm bald, in case you forgot.

So that's what I do all day. Specifically, here is what I will do today:
Water plants
Buy light bulb (again)

Which might make me feel fruitless, the banality of it all, though, quite frankly, I don't believe one can put a price on infusing my family's laundry with the lasting boost of the fresh, sun-kissed scent of early spring. But if I did? Feel ineffective? I could remind myself of this: I used to work with this woman who has since moved to another state. I am still Facebook friends with her, and she messaged me the other day to tell me that she now works with another woman who has MS. She told her coworker about my blog and after reading it and researching the treatment, this woman is now scheduled to go to Russia for her own autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant. The feeling I have is indescribable, though I suppose it would be correct to say it also gives me the lasting boost of the fresh, sun-kissed scent of early spring. Not to be flippant, but yeah. Hearing this makes me feel alive, as if what I am doing makes a difference not only to me and my family, but to someone else. Super bonus credit points that Fitbit does not yet capture or pay out but it's there, baby steps but steps nonetheless, one step toward ending MS. 

That's what I do all day.

p.s. If you or anyone you know has any questions for me about HSCT, feel free to email me.