Friday, October 12, 2018

Lucy, Ethel, and Sherlock

One of the new side effects that I have experienced with this round of chemo is a preponderance of excessive skin drying and cracking, resulting in what looks like random paper cuts on my fingers. Fortunately, I was able to get an appointment with a dermatologist who specializes in chemo related skin issues. In addition to getting some prescriptions to help give my skin some relief, my doctor recommended using super glue to close the cuts, and I am happy to report that super glue did help close the wounds and give me some relief from the ouchiness and bleeding of all of the cracks and quasi-paper cuts on all of my fingers. However, in my zealous attempt to close all of the wounds, I inadvertently glued my fingers to the super glue container. This added a Lucy and Ethel element to this adventure as Donna tried rubbing alcohol, finger nail polish remover, and a pair of scissors to pry my hands from the super glue container.

In the last episode of my adventures in Cancer Schmantzer land, I was dealing with a recalcitrant port with a mind of its own. Last Monday when I went for my chemo treatment, I suggested to my nurse that the port was probably not going to work, so we might as well prepare to get my blood work done the old fashioned way--intravenously.  Now that my life seems to be lots of trips through the twilight zone, my port decided to work. Score one for me. However, that small victory was short lived. Right after the port began to work, my colostomy bag started to leak. While connected to my IV hook ups, Donna and I headed to the rest room where she morphed into becoming the poop whisperer; she helped clean me up, change my clothes, and then we went back to business as usual. Ah, such is my new normal.

In the middle of this whole batch of crazy, I have been spending a lot of time in anxiety land thinking about my attendance at the upcoming Network for Public Education conference. Since this conference will be held in Indy, I have the honor and responsibility of welcoming people to the conference and of introducing super star, Diane Ravitch. While I am thrilled with the prospect of this, I am also concerned that I will wake up that morning, and as predicted in the side effects to come, my hair will all be lying on my pillow case, and I will be looking like a bald cartoon character.  However, I am packing two wigs and some baseball caps, just in case of a hair emergency.  Add to that my concern for Sherlock (aka No Shit, Sherlock), my wayward colostomy bag, which seems to have a mind of its own.

On another note, yesterday I had lunch with three of my former students from the Class of ‘88 which helped to alleviate some of the frustrations and anxieties of the past week. Besides the stimulating and interesting conversation, I was heartened that “the girls” that I had remembered so fondly have become amazingly thoughtful and kind women. We talked about their lives, their hopes and dreams for their kids and for themselves, and their concern about how mean spirited and exhausting the world has become.

Despite the crap sandwich that life has given to me in recent months, I try to remember the words of Louis Armstrong, "I think to myself, what a wonderful world."


  1. Phyllis, I marvel at your sense of humor as you navigate through senseless suffering. I think to myself, what a wonder you are and what a gift to the world.

  2. calanghoff@gmail.comOctober 12, 2018 at 5:43 PM

    Phyllis, You have an amazing spirit! Looking forward to seeing you in Indy next week, ballcap or not.

    Christine Langhoff