The Stacey Report

The news, it’s good? (Kenna hurrah!)

Posted in Stacey Updates by dbancroft on January 25, 2010

Kenna hurrah (or “keynahora” or “khurahheyna” or “kukkaburra” or some other characters not available on my keyboard…) means “without the evil eye”, roughly equivalent to “knock wood”. Which is more common but, it occurs to me now, makes waaaaay less sense.

Also I’m supposed to spit three times between my index and second finger to ward off bad luck, which is notoriously averse to spitty fingers.

(Which is my new band name.)

ANYway… my sister Stacey, always looking for ways to make my life easier — as opposed to my childhood which she sought to make AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE — has written yet another post for your edification and enjoyment. I say enjoyment because not only is Stacey still a great writer, we get a bonus added plus because the news is… Shhh! Good. Probably. Read on!

Stacey’s Report

What is this thing they call Good News?

Real, live, actual Good News has been pretty hard to come by lately. 
Sure, there have been days when nothing bad has happened, but the absence
of bad news is not the same as the presence of good news. And there
have been days when, miraculously, everybody enjoys what I make for
dinner and no one argues and everyone says "I love you" before going
to bed. Those are good days, but they're a part of regular life, one
hopes, and don't really qualify as Good News. Today, I bring you Good News.

Well, let me qualify that a bit. I bring you News which is probably good,
and should prove to be good, but which is still a bit theoretical in nature
and which requires that you take a leap of faith to appreciate now. In a
few weeks we should know if this "Good News" turns out to be GOOD NEWS!
I wouldn't blame you a bit if you wanted to hold out for that.

Here, now, some notes up front:
1. SGPT and SGOT are enzymes that are released by damaged livers (and
hearts, too, but we're not worrying about those right now). Measuring
the levels of these enzymes can indicate the health of a liver.
2. For SGPT the normal range is 7-30, uh, things. For SGOT it's 9-32.
3. All of my breast cancer is now concentrated in my liver. (Fun fact:
it's still breast cancer, even though it's in the liver.)

And now, for you fans of data analysis, I present the numbers:

SGPT	SGOT
02/05/09:	70	61
03/17/09:	64	56
04/28/09:	76	71
06/09/09:	96	97
07/21/09:	125	125
10/16/09:	201	175
10/23/09:	189	173
10/30/09:	194	158
11/06/09:	196	188
11/13/09:	245	223
11/17/09:	248	248
11/20/09:	238	209
11/27/09:	230	175
12/04/09:	234	171
12/11/09:	257	228
12/18/09:	174	144
12/26/09:       135	96
01/02/10:	113	94
01/08/10:	118	89
01/15/10:	83	66
01/22/10:	71	57

See those numbers down there at the bottom? See how they're
substantially lower than the ones in the middle of the list? Yeah, that's good.

It might even be Good. Or GOOD! Or, dare I hope, GREAT! Well,
for now I won't get too carried away as that would be embarassing.
I have a PET scan scheduled for next month (fun fact: tissue shows
changes slower than what can be detected in a blood test, so you wait
a bit to test so that it can catch up), which I hope will show more Good News.

The moles are on the run. Run, damn moles, run.
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Guess what else sucks? Diabetes!

Posted in Stacey Updates by dbancroft on January 2, 2010

OK, before we start, I have to tell you this. WordPress gives us blogstessarios a big ol’ pile of stats just for being here, which means that I can see how many hits we get per day, per post, what links people clicked to get here, what searches brought people here, etc. No I can NOT see exactly who has been here, not that I would be so interested in that information because mostly you are members of our actual family.

But I can see this: in the past few days, some number of page views were triggered by a search on “Stacey’s boobs”. Now, I cannot promise you that there is not some other Stacey out there whose boobs are gettin’ lotsa press.  But it is interesting to me that the search was for StacEy, not Stacy as is apparently more common though certainly less classy.

I dunno — I choose to believe that someone is just fascinated with my sister’s boobs. Well, they are pretty impressive — and given all the trouble at least one of them has caused, it seems only right that they serve us well in some capacity, don’t you think?

OK, on with the show.

Remember the last post? Where I had to warn you that it kind of sucked except that my sister is a really good writer? Guess what?! This next one kind of sucks too, and my sister is still a good writer!

It doesn’t suck quite as much as the last one, but yeah, not so great. Here we go.

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How I lost 20 pounds WITHOUT EVEN TRYING!

As many of you probably know, I am a full-figured gal. Have been all my life, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been through my share of diets. I’m not big on suffering, though (oh yes, diets equate suffering, duh), so nothing has really stuck. I figured that if I had been meant to be thin then the whole thing would have been much easier, meanwhile let’s find some stretchy jeans.

Still, who doesn’t want to be a bit thinner, you know? So imagine my delight when all of a sudden I started losing weight WITHOUT dieting and WITHOUT exercise. Heaven! For about 10 weeks (except for the week after Halloween when there might have been an excess of post-holiday sale candy about the place) I would lose 1, 2, even 3 POUNDS EVERY WEEK! The day after Thanksgiving? 3 pounds! C’mon! That’s so awesome!

Being the kind and generous person that I am…what? shut up, Deb!…I have decided to share the recipe to my success. Are you ready? Ok, here we go:

1. Get diabetes

2. Wait

That’s it! That’s all you have to do. Oh, man, if I’d only known earlier I’d be a skinny minnie by now. All that time wasted on dieting and exercise and all I had to do was to get diabetes and not deal with it. I weep over all the time lost, I really do.

Oh, ok, maybe it’s not the best plan. It’s entirely possible (and completely true) that if your blood glucose levels get too high your body starts burning fat for energy and just passing the glucose out of your body (which can lead to yeasty infections in the tender nether regions, ow). The by-product of the breakdown of fats is ketones and a high enough concentration of those leads to ketoacidosis. Take that too far and the result can be death.

Well, no thanks, the universe is ALREADY trying to kill me, thank you very much, so off to The Fabulous Dr. Johnson went I. From there I was referred to the Diabetes Management Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and now it’s a daily routine of testing my blood and injecting myself with insulin. And the meal plan. Holy God, the meal plan. It’s very nearly as bad as chemo, I SWEAR TO GOD. Don’t get me started on the damn meal plan.

Anyway, here’s a bit more background: It turns out that my glucose levels have been high since at least February. Like, scary high. If you normal people wake up in the morning and had your glucose level tested it would probably be around 140 or lower. When they were testing mine at treatment it was regularly in the low 300’s. Yikes. In the beginning people would either not notice it, or casually comment on it and postulate that it might have something to do with the chemo or maybe I just ate a pound of sugar or something (nope, I hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet when the blood tests were taken). So, for a while, no one really thought much of it. But then, when my chemo med was changed from Xeloda to Navelbine all of a sudden there were other symptoms. The weight loss, for one thing, and excessive sweatiness for another. If you know me then you also know that I’m always sensitive to the heat, so you’ll know what it means when I saw that I started sweating a lot. A LOT. Like, I’m walking around in 40 degree weather with a short sleeved shirt on and I’m still sweating. There are other signs of diabetes (excessive thirst, tiredness, etc.), but these three symptoms combined started raising those red flags. Plus, I there is a family history and I had gestational diabetes, so none of this is any real big surprise.

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This is Deb now, and I’d like to interject here that the family history thing is absolutely true. Our father had adult-onset diabetes, and our mother does things like carry hard-boiled eggs and sharp cheddar in her purse in case of sugar crash. I myself have had some impressive hypoglycemic experiences, like the time I forgot to eat all day because I was so involved in making a Cheerleader from Hell costume for Halloween. When I finally stood up, the blackness crawled in from the edges and I promptly fell back down. And sort of twitched. A little.

Now, a normal person might have thought, “Hmm… I have just passed out. Perhaps this is a cause for concern.” But being a member of our family, I just cursed myself for a fool and crawled to the kitchen. After a few tries, I managed to pull a can of Boost down from the cupboard (I used to keep this on hand because I had trouble keeping weight on. Isn’t that adorable? At the time I weighed something like 95 pounds, skinny even for me. I have since been relieved of half of my thyroid and have no trouble maintaining a healthy 125. OK, 130. OK, shut up.)

ANYway… the moral of the story is that Stacey might have developed diabetes just about now even without cancer. Isn’t that comforting? Yeah, ok, not really. But still.

Back to Stacey:

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My chemo nurse urged me to talk to my primary and even did the a1c test, which is an indicator of how high the glucose levels have been over the past 3 months. A normal result is 7 or below, two years ago mine had been at 6, and two years before that it was 5. Now? 11.5. If you give that number to someone in the know they fall right over from the shock. TFDJ didn’t have to do much to make the diagnosis since all the tests were already done. She decided to avoid the oral meds that are often prescribed because they can put a load on the liver and that’s the last thing my liver needs, so we went straight to insulin.

But here’s the thing! It’s another on my not-really-that-long list of good things about cancer (if you then get diabetes division): Since I had a tram flap reconstruction when I had my mastectomy (which meant that I had an incision from hip to hip) I don’t have sensation in the area of my stomach where they suggest that you inject, so it doesn’t hurt a bit! Well, it doesn’t as long as I confine my needle sticking proclivities to that particular strip of stomach. If I wander outside of that area then it hurts like crazy, but mostly it’s no big deal.

Several people have asked me how I feel about the diagnosis and my usual answer is that it’s not nearly as bad as being diagnosed with cancer, because, really, it couldn’t get any worse, could it? What’s the alternative, I ask, sitting in the corner weeping? That doesn’t sound like any fun. So I continue on.

The upside is that I haven’t been worrying about whether or not the Navelbine

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Heh. Heh heh. She said Naval Bean!

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has been working because I’m too wrapped up in counting those damn carbs. The little bastards are everywhere! I’m currently engaged in my yearly hunt for chocolate ornaments for the Christmas tree (know of any? let me know!) but I know that if I find them I can’t have any. That sucks. But it’s not dying, so…whatever

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And there we have it. You know, you can cast your eyes to heaven and pray “Dear Lord… knock it off!” But if you think about it, anyone’s life, everyone’s life, is just a series of events awaiting context. Chaos awaiting order, which is the history of humanity — and boy howdy do we hate that randomness, pattern-seeking creatures that we are, so inevitably we either find a pattern or we make one.

We’re definitely a “make” kind of family, and there are any number of patterns Stacey could make out of this little beaut. I suppose she could place the back of her limp hand against her forehead, fall gracefully onto a chaise lounge, and flutter “O woe, O tremble, O poor poor pitiful me!” But she has the sense to know that if she did that, not only would she look utterly ridiculous, but the next time she looked around, she would still be draped pitifully on the chaise and in precisely the same situation she was in before. Feh.

More in character is her standard reaction “Oh fer chrissake, what now?” Which has the benefit of setting all of this in the context of “complete waste of f***ing time that I’d rather spend finding chocolate Christmas tree ornaments or raising my children or something.” A much more useful way to go than the whole chaise lounge thing, don’t you think?