Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Back to work, as of last week... six weeks away and by the end of the first day I felt like I'd never left.  That can be good as well as bad.  January is a particularly busy time.  Even though I no longer have official responsibility for our benefits computer system, I do still have knowledge and have been helping to figure out the scenarios where what people elected for this year, is not what they ended up getting.  The percentage of these employees is small, but when you are talking about upwards of 40,000 employees, even 1 percent is a lot of people.  My head is pretty "swimmy" by the end of each work day but we're slogging through it and seeing some patterns that should help us to avoid a lot of these errors next year.

Last week by the end of the week I was toast.  My stamina is definitely not at 100%, even though I believe it is good enough to work.  I felt very sleepy on my commute home Friday, though I caught a bit of a second wind once at home.  On Saturday though, forget it... I took Carly to her 9:00 ballet class.  When we got home I puttered around a bit then told Jim and Becky that I was going to lie down, and so "just in case" I didn't get up in time, not to forget Becky's 1:00pm dance class.  I fell back into bed and that was all she wrote for a good 3+ hours.  On Sunday I catnapped, but probably should have taken a real nap.  I will have to ask about how long I need to be on medication before my thyroid is checked again; I wonder if my fatigue is more from the cumulative effects of the IL-2 or if the hypothyroid is contributing.

All in all, I'm awake and aware, and I can concentrate at work, which is easier because there aren't all the distractions of home.  Actually, when I work from home I can tune the distractions out, too; just not so much when I am not trying to do paid work. Lately I have been full of ideas of things I can do to re-organize and simplify different areas of the house, but just don't have the energy to put any of my plans into motion.  I know, all in due time, but it's a weird feeling to want to be active but not be able to get my body to comply.  And I've had lots of ideas I'd like to explore here, as well as experiences to share, but have lacked the energy to write them out.  Last month my good friend Deb died, I wrote a lengthy post about her life and its impact on me, and then watched as my PC imploded and sent it into the black hole.  I just haven't had the heart to do it again, but one of these days, I will.

I did go for a walk today at lunchtime.  Walking is something I have been good about at times, then let go of for long stretches of time.  In theory I should be able to get two days of walking in over the weekends.  Unfortunately, between our busy schedule of weekend events and errands, and my desire to spend time with the girls, it's difficult to fit in.  They aren't old enough to walk with me at a good pace yet; besides, I would benefit from some quiet, head-clearing alone time.  Anyhow... I used to walk semi-regularly when we were at our old building, which was located on acres of wooded trails.  It was a corporate HQ building that was donated to us, and the walking trails were a point of pride there.  Then we moved to our current location, which is in the midst of an office park block in the suburbs.  There is a measured mile around the block, doable, though it doesn't feature the interesting scenery my coworkers had gotten used to.  We also have a skyway between the two buildings we use; it's a nice place to walk when the weather isn't conducive to being outside.  Plus it has the advantage of being a quarter mile round-trip... very convenient for measuring. 

I have a goal, to be able to comfortably walk 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in time for the Race for the Cure when it returns to Cleveland in the fall.  I have done the 1 mile walk before, but have been thinking about doing the 3 mile walk instead.  First my motivation was to push myself to get more exercise so that it would be an easy thing to do; that motivator is definitely still there.  But then when Deb died of metastatic breast cancer, I wanted to do it for her... she would be proud to know that she continues to inspire me even after her death. 

Today I finally got myself to take a walk at midday.  I've had walking shoes with me every day since I returned to work last week but today I actually put them on and left for a bit.  I only ended up walking for 18  minutes, with a 2-3 min break in the middle, when I ran into a co-worker who didn't know I was back from leave.  I walked a total of a half mile... smokin' fast, eh?  I'd call it pathetic but I really was tired at the end of the time.  But it's a start; hopefully tomorrow I can log another entry on my walking chart.  RFTC is still about 8 months away so I'm not panicking... yet!  I am usually nowhere near that slow, but then my legs never hurt the way they did by the end of the 18 minutes.  It's the same thing with going up stairs.  My department is on the 4th floor of our building.  Last summer I had worked myself up to going up the four flights from the basement garage; 96 steps in all.  It wasn't fun, or easy, but I was doing it.  Now, I can do one flight but the backs of my legs aren't happy; frankly they aren't thrilled by the 13 stairs at home either.  There is improvement, for sure; "not thrilled' is much better than when I felt like I was pulling myself up the final few steps here just by the railing.  So it's progress, and I will take it.  But you know, 90-some9% of the time I don't think about cancer, feel like a cancer patient, etc. in my head.  So having physical limitations is just... startling.

Oh, and to finish my whine (no cheese though; I am trying to get back to NO SNACKING after supper), I'm sick of winter and cold weather already.  Last week we had snow and brutal cold.  This week has been milder and melting but I am still cold.  We so need to move... only we don't want to move away from our family, which we have a lot of here.  Oh family... maybe the rest of you want to migrate south with us???

Monday, January 04, 2010


From reading here recently, one would think that cancer is pretty much the only subject on my mind these days.  Sure, it's right in the forefront, as expected; I mean, it would be odd if it wasn't, given that I am in treatment right now.  And since I use this blog partly as a communication tool to my family and friends, I've tried to make sure I keep my story up to date reasonably well.

However, when I started out, I hoped to also write about come of the other contents of my brain, for various reasons.  One of the areas I'd like to spend more time on is memories.  I'd like to record things I remember from my childhood and even young adulthood so that I can share them with my kids, as well as with those of you who were a part of my life back then.  I recognize that these memories may not be particularly interesting to some of you, so you'll just have to bear with me when I wend my way down Memory Lane.  Heh.

During 2009 there was a lot of attention paid to the year 1969.  That year was a big one in my life, and probably the first year I was aware of the world around me, at least a bit.  I turned five in September of that year and it jars me a little to realize that the 1960's are now 40-plus years ago.  Yes, Virginia, I am middle-aged now... even if I don't feel like an adult lots of the time.  Wow.

I recall the Apollo moon landing; my parents of course followed it on TV and had me watch with them.  We had one TV in the house... imagine that... the TV came with only VHS channels so we had a "Finco box" on top, which was a little box that allowed you to tune in to channels above 14.  Needless to say, this was a black-and-white TV.  Anyhow, I remember seeing the grainy images. 

Next on the TV was a new show that my mom wanted me to watch one day.  She sat me down in front of the TV to have me watch this show called "Sesame Street".  I thought the name sounded unpromising but then the program started and I was in love.  What a great show!  Great characters!  Fun stuff going on!  How ever did my mom know about such a thing?  I liked to watch TV at that age but my tastes ran more to reruns of Bewitched, which was my favorite because not only was Samantha a good witch, but the actress's first name was Elizabeth, like mine.  I also loved the Dick Van Dyke show; my mom said I had it pretty much committed to memory; also Dark Shadows, which scared the heck out of me but I loved, until my mom would make me shut the TV off.  So this Sesame Street program was really special.  And my then baby sister could watch it with me.  I was scared of Gordon once; he was showing us how to do push ups or something.  I didn't feel like trying so I just sat there watching him.  Suddenly his face got close to the camera and he barked, "Don't just sit there!  DO IT!"  Oh my, I was sure he was talking directly to me!!! I ran around the back of the TV, easy to do when your set is on a rolling stand, and hid until the segment was over.  I didn't like Gordon much for a long time after that.

1969 was the year I started school.  At the time, we were living on the south east side of Cleveland, on a street called Prince Avenue.  We were in the "old Slovak neighborhood" just a few streets down from the street where my dad grew up and my grandma and uncle still lived.  My mom registered me for school in the Cleveland public school district, at Paul Revere elementary school.  She prepared me well for going to school, telling me how much fun I would be having, and I wasn't afraid to go. She also taught me how to tie my shoes because I would need to change shoes for something called "gym class."  Besides, there were lots of kids on our street, mostly older than me, and I was dying to go to school like they did.  My "best friend" Michelle lived two doors east of us and was in the magical second grade so I couldn't wait to have school stories of my own to share with her.  Mom and Barbie (little sis) walked me to school each day and picked me up to walk home each day.  I can't remember my teacher's name, just an impression of her as young-ish with short brown hair.  I do remember playing a lot, learning "hi ho the dairy-oh" and such.  Once I saw Michelle when her class and mine were both in the "labratory" (lavatory) at the same time! 

Then my parents rocked my world by looking for a new house.  We were indeed part of the "white flight" out of the east side of Cleveland of the 1960s and 1970s.  We would go with the realtor in her nice car and look at different houses.  I remember going to see the house we ended up buying;, mainly because in the family room they had some kind of doll house sitting on the window seat and I thought I would be able to play with it if we moved there.  The house was a small ranch in Orange Village, a southeast suburb.  It sat on an acre and a half of semi-wooded land.  There were 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, a two car attached garage, and a family room that had been added on the back but was not really usable in the winter because it had no heat!  But the big, big deal about this house was an in-ground swimming pool, 32 x 16 feet, in the back yard.  It was just the coolest thing as far as we kids were concerned.  My parents ended up buying the house and we moved in a couple of weeks before Christmas.  By looking at a 1969 calendar online I am guessing that we moved on about December 13 because I know it was a Saturday.  I wasn't allowed to help move, but instead spent the day with my sister at my Grandma's house until my parents were done and came to get us.  Our first night there, I can recall sitting on the couch and watching Green Acres on TV!  Bless my poor parents, they managed to get a Christmas tree up that year.  I can't imagine trying to move and do Christmas for 2 kids at the same time.

Moving of course meant switching schools.  On my last day at Paul Revere I was very shy and declined to take my art projects home with me though my teacher had them ready for me.  I was registered for a new school, Moreland Hills elementary.  To get there, I had to take the school bus!  Kindergarten was half-days so we had a special bus run for just the K kids.  My teacher was a veteran teacher with white hair named Mrs. Doll.  She was the nicest lady.  We had more "work" to do at MH than we'd had at PR; we did a lot of worksheets which I had never done before.  Of course we always had to write our names at the top of each page.  I was not fond of this practice because I had to write "Elizabeth" rather than "Liz" in those days.  Mrs. Doll had this funny habit of writing my name again above where I wrote it on all my papers and at first I couldn't figure it out.  A boy named John with big green eyes sat across the table from me and would stare at my papers and a me when this happened.  Finally I looked at his paper, then mine, several times and realized... she was showing me how to write my name using both upper- and lower-case letters.  At PR we used all uppercase but at MH were expected to use both cases.  And sure enough, all of John's papers said "John" while mine said "ELIZABETH".   I decided to give Mrs. Doll's way a try and suddenly she stopped writing my name above my own version!  Breakthrough!

Midway through the school year (getting in to 1970 here but it's my blog so too bad) we switched from Mrs. Doll's class to the class adjoining.  The teacher in that room was also older, and named Mrs. Fitzismmons.  She was nice too, though I really loved Mrs. Doll.  I spent the rest of the K year there loving school a lot.  One day we went on a field trip, on the bus.  I have no memory of where we went, but Mrs. F sat with me that day.  As we drove, I read the street signs to her.  "speed limit 35" "yield" etc.  She was amazed - how did I know how to read those signs?  I shrugged; I had learned to read at home before starting school and assumed everyone could read.  Turns out not so much... and one day every week I left my class for a while to work in a little room with a teacher and a few other kids, both in K and in first grade.  It was the start of a school career during which I felt a mixture of pride for doing well, and embarrassment for being "too smart" or different from a lot of kids.  Later additions of body fat (second grade) and glasses (third) made my discomfort grow immensely, but those are topics for other days.