Grateful 365 #40 – Winning at Technology

DSC_0510Just to mix things up, I’ll begin this entry at the end. As a shiba inu would say: “Computer. Wow. Very fix. Much work. Good run. So satisfy.” My computer not only works, but it works better than it did before. It has a new expanded harddrive, an updated OS, and a better graphics card. The best part? As though following orders from Jean-Luc, I made it so.

Alright, that’s enough backward story telling because my head feels like it’s having a brain baby and thinking too hard makes it kick. Chemo hasn’t been kind to me this round, and yesterday was a great example of just how many things can go wrong with a body at the same time. As I was key-poking my way around in an attempt to pull something of worth out of my addled brain meats, I noticed that things weren’t quite acting right… And then the screen did it’s best impression of that lights-out moment in a slasher flick — pitch black and filled with a sense of impending doom.

It was very doomy indeed.

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I’m going to go into more detail about how the rest of the ordeal went in my next entry “Feeling Competent,” so that I don’t ramble too long. Bottom line though– my harddrive had magically transformed itself into a paperweight. (I have been advised to go rip it apart and take its magnets as trophies, and I’m definitely thinking about it).DSC_0528

From here, the challenge became timing my technological tinkering. The problems hadn’t sent me postcards and so I was left to do piecework problem solving. One test here and a hopeful attempt there– all in the lulls between my body deciding to reject the water I dared to put in my stomach and my bones demanding I lay down before they set fire to my nervous system. I’m not trying to whine either -I’m grateful I had those lulls.

Even more, I’m grateful that I DID it. It’d be a small accomplishment under normal circumstances, but I feel like I just replayed a game on insanity mode. I’ve never felt more victorious.

So I’m grateful for having a computer to type on again. I’m grateful it works because I was able to fix it. I’m grateful that even on a no-good, very bad day, I managed to pull off a win.

~all the love~

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Grateful 365 #27 – Hanging-in-There Hairs

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Since my diagnosis, my hair and I have been through a lot. I’ve been annoyed by it, missed it, hated it… Today however, I realized just how lucky I am to have what I have and am seriously impressed by the tenacity of my remaining strands!

Since the traumatic shower where I first experienced hair loss in a very big way, to the decision to be done with all my paranoia and grief and shave, I’ve kept a small patch bangs just for fun. (It would have been a mohawk if my initial alopecia hadn’t taken out clumps down the middle of my head! XD)

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I’ve since been informed that it’s actually a punk style called the “Chelsea,” and I’ve come to really enjoy the lengthy patch of bangs at the front of my chromedome.

Sure, I’ve lost a few of those initial long hairs and the patch has shrunk a bit, but I can’t help but be amazed that over halfway through my chemo, these tough little strands that remain have hung tight and stayed with me! Don’t get me wrong about the chromedome either– I really enjoy being able to switch color and style on a whim with wigs and not having a fully follicled head is pretty much the pinnacle of simplicity and ease when it comes to daily upkeep! Still, it really is comforting to have something to sweep back and brush.hairpanel

I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep this patch through the course of my treatment, and if it goes, I’ll likely miss it, but I’ve already prepared for it.

In the meantime though, I like imagining that I’ll end treatment and be able to keep rocking my rebel punk ‘do as the rest of my scalp catches up!

So thank you, my little scalp soldiers! Hang in there and carry on!

 

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #19 – Seeing the Finish Line

emote eheheA few days ago I spoke with my oncologist about my upcoming treatment. In addition to setting up times and schedules for this cycle, she also humored me in penciling in dates for the remaining course of my treatment. It didn’t really strike me until I had transfered it from paper to phone calander and phone calendar to e-mail, but…

I have an end date.

April 7th- Final chemo
April 28- PET (looking for an all clear)

emote eye rubI have a finish line.

emote yayI have a finish line that my oncologist says is very likely given my current progress.

Typing those words feels great. Seeing those words feels great.

Although I’ve known from the beginning that there would be an end, there is something so solid and real about having a date. I’ve been encouraged going into this cycle just knowing that I was over the halfway point from here on in, but being able to point to a calendar and say “I’ll be better then!” is an entirely new level of elation.

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I’ll be better then!!

I know I’m very blessed to have the prognosis I have, and doubly so to have the certainty of an finish line to look forward to.

I’m grateful for both.

~all the love~

The Here and There on the Hair You Wear~!

So my hair fell out. It’s still falling out (itchy, messy short hairs EVERYWHERE!!! @.@ Rrrragh!!). I’ve learned to cope, and have since assembled a mighty army of beanies, baseball caps, hoodies and wigs. Which wigs?

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Glad you asked.

You see, I’m a geek and as a geek I go to conventions. As a geek at conventions, I often indulge in dressing up like my favorite characters in an increasingly heard-of activity called cosplay. As a cosplayer, I had discovered the joys of wigs for fun. Pink, blue, green, long, short, spiked…these were wigs designed to stand out and turn heads.

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I guess next to the ears, anything looks normal~!

My two most natural, both short haired black wigs, I had always felt looked passable…but then my confidence was shattered when I overheard a friend of a friend, obviously unaware of my situation, ask his companion why I was wearing a wig. Oops. I guess they’re only natural when you’re dressed as an elf or mystic warrior.

There was my problem though: I had never, ever, worn a wig in an attempt to look like I wasn’t wearing one. I had no idea how to even start looking for what I needed. So I did some reasearch. I read all kinds of advice (which I will later try to pick through and condense into something helpful), and approached my first purchase warily.

Now I’ll be honest. I started on ebay. I had learned fancy words and thought I could use them to get something premium at a discount price. The result was…okay.

“BRAND NEW WITH TAG HIGH QUALITYJAPANESE MONOFILAMONT TOP ANDImage KENAKALON FIBERED WIG” The seller proclaimed. “WITH BANGS, LEYERED CUT. COLOR:RED AUBURN WITH HIGHLIGHTS.”

Spelling errors aside, I liked the look of it. I’d dyed my hair red for years, and was digging the idea of a wig along the same color scheme Also monofilament (even if it had been misspelled) was one of those qualities I was using as a search term. They tended to fall more naturally and look more realistic…or something.

I got the wig for $30.99 plus $3 for expedited shipping. Not too bad. Not too good. It arrived promptly, and was…unnervingly blonde. I thought it looked fake. I thought it looked garish. I was totally over reacting because it really is a great wig…it’s just jarring to see yourself in different hair. Especially when it’s a color you’re not used to.
It wore well and breathed well though, and for awhile it was my one and only choice for hair I wear via sheer necessity Gradually I got used to it though, and now I really do kind of love it…even if it’s not really red at all and has a slight synthetic feel to the strands.

EBAY Japanese Monofilament Wig:
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Pros:
Great highlights
Breathable
Very styleable
Convincing skin top
Great combination of straight hair and waves

Cons:
Slightly wiggy feel to the strands
Cap shows here and there
Loses strands easily

I’ve come to love this wig in recent days, so II guess I kinda lucked out. However, I likely won’t be repeating my ebay experiment and I’d reccommend you steer clear of that market as well. Search terms like “monofilament” or “skin top” can yield subpar or no results. Searching for name brands or certain styles might up your chances of getting something amazing (they often come with certificates of authenticity if you get fancy enough with your desires.

…buuut even then you still run the risk of getting old and damaged, barber-cut, or at worn-out wigs. There’s also less selection, and chances are that unless you really know what you want, you’ll just end up settling. If not on style, then on color. If not on color, then on length. If not on length,the on cut…. You get the picture.

So then, if ebay is out, what else is there? Well, personally I checked out a lot of sites. Cancer sites, fashion sites, charity sites, innovation through technology sites… I mean A LOT of sites. …and then I ended up using VogueWigs.com.

Why I Use VogueWigs.Com

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Why?

Well first and foremost, It’s easy to navigate. This is important. I absolutely LOVED headcovers.com, but aie-yai-yai was their navigation a nightmare. With VogueWigs.com, you can sort by hair type, length, price, brand, and a variety of other features. The front page is intuitive and log-in features a wishlist for easy reference. The site also has a fairly good selection with many brands and price ranges represented. Finally, the site has prices in line with, if not lower than, most other sites of it’s ilk. As a bonus, they often run specials, and one day, I will catch that elusive 3 for the price of 2 Forever Young wig sale they seem to only have when I’m out of money and payday’s long in the future.

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However, the BEST thing about VogueWigs.com? The absolute BEST?? Two words: Fan. Photos.

Why do I love this feature so much? Well, because we can’t all be angle-jawed, high-cheekboned, perfectly lit

mavens(not all day, every day anyways!) 

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Seeing what these wigs look like on real live human beings gives you a feel for what these magical head tribbles will look like without a pit crew of make-up artists to tend to them. Add that to the rate and comment system and you have the next best thing to trying it on yourself.

On to the products!!!

Okiedokie, so my first purchase involved two wigs from the Forever Young company. I’d actually stumbled on the site while searching for this brand as it has a good reputation for quality wigs at a low cost. I picked one mid-length wig (Always Sexy in RS30 @ $33.95) and one longer wig (Glam Rock in HL4-30 @ $37.95) in an attempt to figure out what features I liked and didn’t like in a wig.

ImageAlways Sexy Synthetic Wig by Forever Young
I recently purchased this wig in color RS30 (dark auburn with highlights), and have been very pleased with the quality I received for the price I paid.
This wig features a lot of body, great natural looking highlights, a comfortable design, and multiple wear options. The hairline and part are very convincing, and I’ve had several people compliment me on my “new hairstyle”–the best compliment ever for my current wig wearing purposes.
My only complaint is that it has a lot of body…which for someone with a head on the smaller side (like me) can make the silhouette feel a little bulbous. My favorite way to wear is tucked behind my ears– my friends have noted that this makes my ears stand out a tad strangely (again- there’s a lot of volume!), but have concluded that it gives me an elf like appearance which I’m all for. So far I’ve accomplished half pony tail with claw clip/barrette, low pony tail with elastic, and pig tails with elastic and have enjoyed the variety.
Washing and styling is a breeze, and the synthetic hair bounces right back into place after drying without much help on my part.

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Pros:
Suitable for all day wear. Breathes well and doesn’t get sweaty or hot.
Realistic part and hairline
Pleasant touch and feel to the strands
Easy to style
Easy to wash
Cut lends itself to multiple hairstyles

Cons:
SO much body on the sides that it can be a nuisance
Somewhat strange silhouette on smaller heads if worn as is
Elf ears (which I kinda like~!) when you push the hair behind your ears
Sometimes the bangs can be a nuisance in your eyes

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Glam Rock Synthetic Wig by Forever Young
I recently purchased this wig in color HL4-30 (a dark chocolate brown), and have been very pleased with the quality I received for the price I paid.

This wig is phenomenally versatile and very convincing. The skin top absolutely had one of my taller friends befuddled, and the hairline looks super natural once on. The layers around the face do a beautiful job of framing without looking fake or wiggy. The hair strands themselves soft and pleasant to the touch as well– I love to twirl strands of this one!
Glam Rock is easy to style as well and has a world of possibilities for wear. So far I love low front pigtails, clipped and flipped pony tail in back, over one shoulder low ponytail, low centered ponytail with barrette, and even a bun with chopsticks. No matter what style, the bangs and layers frame the face beautifully without getting in the way or appearing too full.
I’ve used this wig for every day wear and have yet to find it uncomfortable, itchy, heavy, or hot. For a longer wig, it breathes very well.
Washing is super easy as well- warm water, gentle shampoo, and air dry. The strands pop right back into shape and you’re fresh and ready to go!

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Pros:

Suitable for all day wear. Breathes well and doesn’t get sweaty or hot.

Realistic part and hairline
Pleasant touch and feel to the strands
Easy to style
Easy to wash
Flattering cut
Lends itself to multiple hairstyles

Cons:
None really
I absolutely love this wig!!

So those are my thoughts on wig shopping~!

No Time for Paranoia. AKA! One Less Thing to Worry About.

It’s funny how quickly things move sometimes. I fell asleep the other night, too exhausted to finish the small article I was writing on superstition and paranoia.

You see, I’d been having nightmares. Nightmares about my hair falling out. My teeth falling out. That kind of thing.

I’d started finding hair on my pillow in the morning. My head felt like it was itchying. I was getting paranoid.

I developed some rituals. 5 strokes of the hairbrush and straight into a pony tail for the rest of the day,. No touching the hair before I went to bed. No showers after the second chemo.

Basically, don’t look at the hair. Don’t think about the hair. Don’t touch the hair.

ESPECIALLY don’t touch the hair.

That’s what I was writring about. Maybe in more detail.

The night after neulasta was AWFUL. I had some oxy/acetominaphin to help get me through it though, so after an hour or so, it became tolerable and I was able to get some on/off sleep in so long as my head wasn’t involved. (And yes, that is another article because I feel it’s important. Neulasta is NO JOKE.)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up. I love spooky stuff. I wanted to participate. I planned on taking the max dose of oxy for the celebration. Dress up. Have fun. …A shower was needed.

I will summerize the shower: traumatic shower is traumatic.Image

That dream where you run your fingers through your hair and it comes out in clumps? And doesn’t stop? THAT.

I got so overwhelmed that through the tears, I started hanging it up on the towel rack. What else could I do? It wouldn’t stop!!

It was so much like my nightmares that I have expected my grit teeth to fall out of my head too! Maybe my arms would melt away and fall off next!!

Before I continue, I’ll tangent with a short story. I gave my hair an ultimatum. We could live together if it thinned. We could live together for a long time. I might get it cut a bit shorter, I might wear it up a lot more, but we’d deal. HOWEVER. If it clumped and came out? Done deal. It was getting shaved. I knew I couldn’t deal with it. Too much. Much too much.

So yeah, I got over the shock. I got over the horror. I got annoyed. Stupid fucking hair!!! It had ONE JOB, dammit!!! ONE!!

Cool thing though, the chemo left patterns. I saw two tulips and later on a heart. Maybe even the word “hi” if I looked hard enough. It was going to be okay. The hair stuff? If anything, it just showed that the chemo was doing it’s thing. Hunting shit down. Getting cancer dead.ImageImage

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I could dig it. I could deal with it. I don’t make idle threats, so at least I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with the awful hair on my pillow much longer.

I’m blessed with wonderful friends. My housemate has worries of her own in the cancer department that make this lymphoma of mine look like a cupcake stand. She’s also lost her mother to cancer. There are all sorts of reasons that helping me with my hair issues probably made her uncomfortable or potentially brought back memories. Still, she’s the best make-you-bald barber I’ll ever had. Through the process we smiled and laughed…she made me forget everything I was worried about or afraid of.

I can’t even express my gratitude for her in general, let alone for her help with a difficult task. I really am SO blessed.

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So now I have a new haircut…and one less trouble. :)

One Week from Chemo 1 Update!

It’s a week and a day out from my first chemotherapy session and I’m finally feeling close to what “normal” usually is for me.
I’m back to eating my usual food, although I’m still taking cautionary anti-acids before every meal to prevent heart burn.
I made a full day of work on Sunday and a half day before that on Saturday. I’ve given my Wednesday classes away for now, which I feel is a good decision as it allows me time to reflect and get things done around the house.
I’m feeling well enough to start worrying about money now, but I’m reaching out to figure out just what I should worry about, if anything. I’m dreading mail from my insurance.

I’ll say now, a little more than a week out from it, that I underestimated chemo a tad. I thought it would hit hard and leave quickly, but the after effects were with me well into Friday afternoon.

I’m excited for this weekend though- a friend’s wedding and a chance to see many highschool companions (some of whom I haven’t seen in years!). How blessed am I that I get to go with my normalcy regained and all my hair still in place!
I’ll work Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (and honestly, I have never felt happier heading in to work!) and enjoy the hour after enjoying various Halloween gatherings and parties!

Tuesday I’ll go in for my second treatment with a list of questions and a much better idea of what to expect all around. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading it a little, but I do feel much more prepared and that gives me confidence.

Needless to say, I won’t be going to the anime convention next weekend like I had planned, but c’est la vie. With any luck, I’ll be able to work Saturday and Sunday and make up for some of my time lost to recovery!

So there’s an update, for what it’s worth… at the moment I think I’ll go enjoy everything to the utmost! :D