Brain Tumor

Stress Sh*tting Is For Real

If I had to pick one word to describe today, it would be…uncomfortable.

It’s been dark skies and gloom since I woke up this morning. We had a little bit of rain, but not enough to justify these overwhelming aches and pains or the sinus pressure currently building up inside my head.

Then I spent a couple of hours today filling out long-term disability forms for private insurance that I purchased through my most recent employer. It provides about a third of our income (the other two-thirds coming from SSDI) right now. But it doesn’t last forever. In fact, today’s lengthy forms reminded me that this benefit runs out in May.

They also forced me to list my current disabilities and recount my laundry list of symptoms. Clearly a necessary part of the process, but it is physically and emotionally painful to do. It brings all those scary, sad, PTSD feelings bubbling to the surface of my consciousness, and it usually takes a few days to get the anxiety back to a manageable simmer.

Anyway, being jobless with a head full of cancer means living in a perpetual state of financial stress, but today’s reminder was sort of like turning an already super tight screw a quarter-turn to the right. So, even though the loss of income is several months away, I panicked and set up a profile on a freelance jobs website. I took a spelling test there as part of the process and scored “below average.”

This former Spelling Bee Runner up was gutted.

And speaking of gutted. After spending an inordinate amount of time on the porcelain throne this afternoon, I tried to recall what could have caused me to be so sick.

“What did I eat?” I asked Dan, because my go-to is still to blame myself and my food choices for everything that goes wrong in life. (Thank you for your part in that, food-phobic society and fat-shaming doctors.)

So we went through a list of possible causes. “Maybe the cheesecake I made was too rich.”(Even though I have scientific proof that I have no dairy sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy.) “Or maybe those chicken breasts we bought at Meijer were iffy.”

After telling Dan, “but you ate that too” half a dozen times, it finally occurred to me that it’s not my fault. In my case, stress shitting is just secondary to having a brain tumor. I had a rough day and my gut was like, “Woman! Look what I can make!”



Brain Tumor

Sure, More Pains

Yesterday I rode the FitDesk for three 30-minute sessions. Ninety minutes in 24 hours is my new record! While I was pedaling, I was thinking about how fun it would be to ride an actual bike again. But I don’t own a real bike, and I wouldn’t want to try to do anything that required an ability to balance my body in an actual street where there are actual cars anyway.

If I’m honest, I still struggle to walk without tipping over on most days, so I’m confident I’d need a safe place to try out my biking skills. Like a mega church parking lot on a Thursday afternoon or something. Which means someone else driving me and my bike to some such place. That seems like way too much work.

Anyway, it’s not likely to happen soon, but it’s something I’m adding to my List of Things That Prove I’m Not Completely Broken Yet.


Can chemo give you arthritis? I Googled it once, but didn’t find anything I considered a solid answer. I would think that possibly I’m just of the age I would have developed arthritis anyway, but these new pains came on suddenly instead of growing slowly and steadily over the years like it did with my mom. Chemo speeds up the breakdown of plenty of things, so why not? But then I know that it’s used to treat some forms of arthritis, so… whatever.

Bottom line is that I hurt a lot. Again.


Brain Tumor

August Harvest

garden harvest.jpg

The garden has been hit or miss this year. The zucchini plant gave us one zucchini and then gave up the ghost, for example. The fennel looked good for a bit, and then it succumbed to something—over watered? Under watered? Planted too close to a rival? Who knows? (Probably someone who’s a little more meticulous about their garden. Our approach is to try our best and see what happens.)

We did manage to get a lot of tomatoes (a few cherry and a roma pictured here—many more were used to make sauce for a dinner of stuffed peppers Thursday), several green peppers, two eggplant, a basket full of jalapenos, and two pale cukes.

There’s also a loaf of homemade bread hiding away back there in the corner. Since my Dad fixed our Kitchen Aid mixer earlier this year, Dan has been more than willing to make our sandwich bread. It is such a treat, but because it doesn’t contain any preservatives it gets funky FAST. I have to hold my hand over my mouth just thinking about that last lone heel we pulled out of the cupboard.

I haven’t been baking as much the last week or so because I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. My coffee table refinishing project has also been stalled for a few days, but I am hoping to get back to it tomorrow. I’ve got the legs to sand before I can think about staining and varnishing.

Eh, anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for an update.



Brain Tumor

Emily’s Cancer Calendar: July

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July cancer calendar

Another month is done! That means that if you’re a Kindle owner and a member of Amazon Prime, you get to pick from some great, FREE First Reads books. Go pick yours, I’ll wait. (I snagged Happy Doomsday.)

OK, back to the calendar summary. July started off really, really strong. I turned my FitDesk pedal resistance to Level 2 on July 5, and then I never looked back. My legs are getting much stronger, I can feel it. I also pulled some 2-pound hand weights out of the closet to work on strengthening my arms and shoulders.

Even though I had 4 days with very sad faces, I managed to pedal for a total 1,091 minutes and 253 miles this month. I might have been inspired by all those dudes riding le Tour and climbing mountains. (We watched the race every morning. It’s tradition for us.) And ♫ Aux Champs Elysées ♫ is still stuck in my head.

When the Tour de France ended on Sunday, I deflated a little and said to Dan, “July is done. It’s already Fall isn’t it?”

And now I see that pumpkin spice everything is eating up my Facebook feed.

Oh well. Welcome to August everyone!

Brain Tumor

One Full Year of Logging Meals on MyFitnessPal


Three hundred and sixty-five days. That’s every single day for an entire year. I logged my meals, my snacks, my fluids, my exercise, my weed, and I even logged my Tylenol and Tums and Flonase.

My obsession with logging food and medicine was about 35% my wanting to see what foods and drugs made me feel miserable and about 65% me being sick and tired of medical professionals insisting my eating habits were causing problems.

“You need to eat more…”

“NO! Look at my food logs!”

Anyway, it’s an accomplishment to keep up something like this every day for a year when that year includes several months of hating food due to chemotherapy. I’m proud of myself.

Brain Tumor · House and Home · Memories

Father’s Day Rocks

Yes, I know I’m a couple of weeks late on the Father’s Day thing. It’s because I knew my parents would be passing through Urbana at the end of this week, and I figured I’d just hand my dad his Father’s Day rock instead of try to mail it.
(For Mother’s Day, I gave my mom a small succulent I planted myself. My theme for the parents this year was something like “Things an 8 year old might give her parents.”)
This is only the second rock I’ve ever painted. It’s a hobby I think I might want to take up, but I don’t really know what I’m doing yet.
Anyway, I do like the way this one turned out. It’s freehand, which I think adds to its charm. I painted the white field as a background first, and then sketched the Cubs logo in roughly with pencil before painting it. Smooth lines on small rocks with skinny brushes are difficult to achieve even if you haven’t had brain surgery. I’m proud of my work.
cubs painted rock.jpg
Brain Tumor · House and Home

Emily’s Cancer Calendar: June


June was phenomenal as far as my FitDesk stats go: 900 minutes and 220 miles. I also mowed twice, celebrated my 90th day since the end of chemo with a frozen margarita from Casa del Mar, traveled to Milwaukee to celebrate Dan’s birthday, and baked a couple of cakes.


We just returned from a trip to Meijer, where we bought a few plants, a box of granola cereal, and a pint of buttermilk (for another bundt cake I want to try making). Even though the store was sufficiently air conditioned, I couldn’t take any more. I am wilted. So I’m going to eat my cold cereal, and watch Dan play video games. But before go, I’m going to leave you with a few pictures of the yard.