Brandi

On Friday, I went to the ophthalmologist to try to get some answers concerning the many unfortunate things happening in and all around my poor eyes. It was confirmed that I have “severely” dry eyes, and something called blepharitis, which is the reason for my styes, itchiness, redness, grossness, and general discomfort. I was given many various things to put in my eyes to try to help and a new bedtime eye care ritual that is somewhat unpleasant. The doctor said it could take several months/half a year for the styes to clear up. When I asked, But how long until the constant watering of my eyes goes away, he replied, That will be for the rest of your life.

Chemotherapy, the gift that just keeps giving.

I am doing what I can do to get the situation under control and praying that the entire mess is not going to be chronic and as ridiculously dire as he made it sound. That is completely unacceptable to me, since I currently can’t do much of anything because of my stinking eyes. So we’ll see what happens. (Get it? We’ll “see” what happens? Never pass up an opportunity to make a pun, even if you have cancer and have learned your eyes might be damaged forever.)

Anyway. I’m going to now change to the subject of wigs. When I first learned I would be losing my hair, I wanted to make sure I had a wig that I could use to cover up my bald head.ย The second after I shave my head, I am putting on a wig and never taking it off, I said. Before starting chemo, I went to a few professional wig shops in the city and tried on some very expensive options (many good wigs can cost well over $1000). It wasn’t as fun as I had wanted it to be. The whole thing felt very strange. All the salespeople seemed to talk to me in this hushed voice. They looked at me with sad eyes, like I might die at any moment. The whole ordeal made me uncomfortable, as did spending so much money on something I didn’t even like all that much. I left each store without purchasing anything, thinking maybe I’d go back eventually. I never did.

After I lost my hair, I was surprised how comfortable I felt going out with just a hat or a scarf. I mean, I have cancer. I’m writing about it. It’s not a secret. I no longer felt the need to hide under fake hair. I was bald throughout most of my chemo, and felt okay about it, which surprised me. I still am amazed I posted photos of myself so freely on the internet, for all to see. If you had asked me if I would do that four months ago, I would have told you you were crazy. But I guess the hair loss made me a bit more confident, in some strange way.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I missed out a bit on the whole wig part of chemo. Because being bald is fine, but sometimes it’s nice to pretend, just for a little bit. To feel and look like someone who isn’t sick. The more that my appearance has deteriorated with the cumulative effects of chemo, the more I understand that. And the more I miss having hair.

And so, I ordered a wig. Now that I am done with chemo. Which is a bit backwards, but I like to do things my own way. I also broke another rule by ordering it on the internet from some random wig site. This is something “wig experts” at the fancy boutiques will say not to do, because you can’t really tell how it will fit your head, or match your face. However, I am pretty good at figuring stuff out and doing research. So I read through some reviews and looked at some photos and finally settled on a style and colour that I thought might work. It was a good price for the quality, and most will be reimbursed via insurance, so I decided if I don’t like it or wear it only once, it doesn’t really matter. It gave me something to do, and something to be excited about, and possibly something to make me feel a tiny bit better during a low point in my cancer adventure. So that was enough for me.

Yesterday, my wig arrived. The wig’s name is “Brandi” and she is pretty sassy. When I put it on, it reminded me of my old hair. I started brushing it and it has been so long since I have brushed my hair, that I nearly cried. But I was having too much fun playing with Brandi to cry. Too much fun looking in the mirror and remembering what I used to look like. What life used to look like. And what it could look like again.

Ladies and gents: introducing, Brandi.

I am wearing sunglasses to protect my eyes. Or maybe my alter-ego Brandi is just so wild that she wears her sunglasses at night.

 

A few small steps

I just went for a walk to get a sub. It took about 20 minutes total and my legs are burning as if I just ran across the country. When I think back about how far I used to walk, I can’t even imagine it now, but hopefully I will be able to build up some strength again eventually since my current physical state is probably close to that of a 90 year-old woman. All in good time. For now, I’m pretty impressed that I made it there and back and am still alive to tell the tale. Gold star for me.

I have been watching a bunch of TV, which is a good sign, because when I am at my worst, I don’t even have enough energy to to watch television. Which shows how much chemo destroys your ability to do even the laziest possible activity. I’m all caught up on The Vampire Diaries after falling behind for a bit and losing track of which ancient vampire was trying to kill which modern-day hybrid werewolf. I am aware that I am definitely older than the target demographic for this show, but lately all I want to watch are teen shows. I’m sure a psychologist would say it’s some sort of regression/coping mechanism, to avoid all of the very grown-up stuff I have to deal with daily. But I don’t think so. I just love shows made for 14 year-old girls. I have also been watching a ton of Felicity on DVD (thanks, Nicole!) since I somehow missed out on watching it as an actual teen. Very riveting stuff.

Felicity's big haircut.. such a dramatic moment in TV history
Felicity’s big haircut.. such a dramatic moment in TV history

I wanted to reply to each of the comments on my last couple of posts because they were all so thoughtful, but I felt anything I could say would not do justice to the kind words you left for me. I couldn’t believe all the love I got after sharing the sad state I was in. Honestly, if you are feeling down about humans and their ability to show compassion for each other, I urge you to go back and read through all the comments people leave here. I am so lucky to have so much support coming at me.

I am starting to feel better again, in terms of my mood and body pains and fatigue. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to really catch a break, and my eye troubles have not let up. In fact, today, I counted seven little styes on one of my eyelids. I’ve lost count of how many I have had now since last week. I am not sure why it is happening as it does not seem to be a common cancer thing. I also have permanent teary eyes so it is hard for me to see most of the time. I have walked into a few walls. In short, I look like a mess. I am seeing an ophthalmologist on Friday so we’ll see what that brings. If they try to put anything in my eye, you will likely hear my screams wherever you are. After everything I have been through, I still feel squeamish at the idea of anyone or anything getting near my eye.

So with the eye troubles, I believe I have had every part of my body have some sort of issue. But it’s okay guys, it could be worse. I mean, my head could fall off. There’s always that.

My mom gave me this button.
My mom gave me this button.