Sniffles Gone

Well, the antibiotics did their stuff and I'm feeling pretty normal this evening. Today is day one of half a year of "NO MORE BAD HAIR DAYS" as I shaved the rest of my hair off with our electric razor and a little help from 12 yr old J. It wasn't a very close shave so the younger three decided to have fun plastering my head with cloth tape and peeling it and lots of stubble right off. It is very refreshing. All that hair goes out in tomorrow's trash.


Wig Show - Photos by an 8yr Old

Wig Show - Photos by an 8yr Old
Originally uploaded by Koggy.
We had some fun trying on wigs this week. I like the two on the left best. The lower right style is a little grannyesque, but not bad for a $13 wig. The $2,000 wigs in the local shop didn't look much better.

I'm taking antibiotics for 3 days to get rid of a low grade fever and sniffles before Tuesday's chemotherapy. Otherwise, I feel fine.

I took N and L to storytime and origami lessons at the elementary school this morning where the pleasant old woman teaching complimented L on his wonderful Japanese. He listened carefully and managed to do fairly well with the origami too.



Originally uploaded by Koggy.
Yesterday my hair started coming out in gobs, like nothing is holding the hair on my head anymore. This was oddly comforting assurance that the chemotherapy is working, but rather messy. I gave the older girls scissors and asked them to chop away to minimize the mess. This is the result.


Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Mikan Days

Per the schedule the chemo doc gave me two weeks ago, my hair started coming out in gobs this morning. I wear a hat when cooking so nobody gets hair in their food. Refreshingly weird indication the chemo is working.

Off to classes this evening.


Snow in Tokyo

The girls were happy about the snow we had on Saturday. There was enough to build snowmen. L went to kindergarten in the morning and played in the snow with his friends. He got out half an hour early as the kindergarten was worried about driving the kids home in the snow. The girls went to various friends' houses for the day so L was the only child home at lunchtime.

After hot udon noodles for lunch, S and L played word games in S's futon for a while. L asked for hot cocoa but suddenly started complaining of great abdominal pain before he could drink it. I made him go sit on the toilet for a while with no results. He cried and moaned that he didn't want to die but that he was going to die and made quite a production of his pain. I decided that maybe I should take him to the hospital to have the pediatrician check him out in case he swallowed something strange. I bundled him up and put him on the back seat of the bike to cycle through the snow to the only place that was open on a Saturday afternoon. He fell asleep waiting and was still in pain when his turn came up and the doctor examined him. She decided he should have x-rays and sent us upstairs to the x-ray room. L was quite excited by the fancy machines and cooperated with the technician who sent us back downstairs with our film five minutes later.

The doctor looked carefully and announced that yes, he is constipated. If things didn't begin moving on their own by Sunday, we should give him an enema. Thank you and goodbye. L asked for a drink from the vending machine in the lobby so I made a deal that he go to the bathroom first. He decided to forgo the ladies' room and venture solo into the men's room. He took his time and when he finally exitted the men's room, he proudly announced to the 30 or 40 people in the lobby that he'd just had the biggest BM in the world and that the toilets have butt washers like the place where we stayed last summer! Fortunately his doctors' visits are free until he starts elementary school or I would have been a little disappointed at the costly trip to the fancy toilet.


Not Much Happening

It was an uneventful week. I had a blood test on Wednesday and things are as expected. The doctor and chemo room nurse were surprised that I was relatively unaffected by the treatment regarding fatigue. The anti-nausea medications worked well and I never felt ill. The doctor prescribed some antibiotics for me to take if and when I get a fever as my white blood cell count is lower than usual (as expected). I assume that the fatigue and other effects are cumulative and that I won't be so lucky all the time but was relieved that I felt as well as I did. Whew!

Thursday evening L, N and I went to a curry rice dinner party for N's 2nd grade class and had a good time while M and J relaxed at home enjoying big girl time. We expect a couple of inches of snow tomorrow so I guess I should go dig out some more gloves so we can all go out and play.


Back to School

The girls went to school and L went to kindergarten this morning. The elementery school annual rice dumpling festival was today. The head of the committee invited foreign students from the nearby national university to help pound 90 kilograms (198 lbs, probably doubled in weight after steaming) of steamed sticky rice into gooey glutinous dumplings to feed the 550 or so elementary school students. I was also invited to speak a little aboout holiday customs in my country. S dedcided that I would be too busy to go and approached the chairperson to ask if he could go in my place, bringing a few university judo team students and one of our adult English students to help in the manpower department. They were glad for the extra help and I got out of going.

To thank the judo students for their help, he invited them here for lunch, so I spent the time I would have been standing around at school cleaning and cutting chinese bokchoy cabbage, shiitake and other mushrooms, tofu and other items (can't find what some of them are in English) so they could have "cook-at-the-table" miso based soup (o-nabe) I also put some already cut sashimi on a nice plate and cooked a big batch of rice. After they arrived and started eating, I went to get L at his bus stop. The girls arrived home already full from all the rice dumplings and didn't need lunch. From the dirty bowls they brought home, I see M liked the red bean paste topping, J liked the yellow powdered soy bean topping and N liked soy sauce and nori (flaky seaweed). I left the dishes to soak and told S I'd be off to the hospital. He asked when I'd be back and seemed surprised when I said that it might be around 6 p.m. because I'd be having an I.V. Our adult English student was nice enough to stay and play with the kids, even taking them to the park for a while.

I took the bus to the hospital and arrived in time for my 2 p.m. appointment only to be kept waiting until 3 as it was a busy day. The doctor apologized and then took his time to carefully explain the regimen and the medications before setting me up for my I.V. and sending me on my way around the corner on the same floor to the outpatient chemotherapy clinic. The in-clinic pharmacist and nurses gave me the same explanations again and got me started.

Kytril (anti nausea) + 100ml saline solution - 20 mins

Decadron (steroid, anti nausea) + Epirubicin + 100ml 5% glucose
solution - 20 mins

Cyclophosphamide + Fluorouracil (5FU) + Solita-T3 (rehydration
solution) - 60 mins

and a final vein flushing of 100ml 5% saline
solution - 5 mins.

I was given metoclopramide (3 times a day for 5 days), Zofran (once a day for 5 days) and Decadron (8 tiny tablets 3 times a day for 3 days) to ward off nausea and was told to take the first Zofran tonight.(Done!)

So far, so good. A friend sent a text message to my cell phone asking when and how I'd be going home and offered to pick me up in the evening so I had an unexpected ride home. She said too call next time too, because although I might feel fine, it is better not to be on my own on the bus. Her dad had chemo a few years ago (he's fine now) and she is very sympathetic.

When I arrived home, S and J had gone to our school for tonight's lessons and our adult English student was sitting with the younger kids, covered with mittens and gloves, attached by clothespin, and playing picture drawing games. He may have been a bulldog in a former life; he is everso patient with the kids.

Dinner for the kids was leftover o-nabe from lunch with chinese ramen noodles added. Nobody complained as they didn't eat it the first time around anyway. I had some too and feel fine. The doctor and nurses tell me that the next few days may be trying. Maybe S can due crossing guard duty for me (it's our turn) and go to L's kindergarten class new year's party tomorrow morning. Then again, maybe I'll be fine and can at least go to the party...


The Cousins

The Cousins
Originally uploaded by Koggy.
After the Harry Potter movie, my kids and their Kyushu cousins had a little fun at an entertainment center with "Print Club" photo booths. The booth they used had an option for transmitting the photos to cell phones or e-mail addresses in addition to printing them out on an adhesive sheet to make stickers. Our niece forwarded this shot to my e-mail from her phone. Technology!


New Year's Holidays Chez Nous

We had a fun and busy week while the nieces were here last week. The kids went to the newest Harry Potter movie with their cousins one day, we all went to Tokyo Tower the next and then the nieces ventured off on their own for a day of window shopping at a popular new site on the other side of Tokyo.

On the 31st the little old lady from the 3rd floor stopped by with some New Year's money for my kids while I was out shopping and S invited her in for tea. She stayed long after I returned with the groceries and watched while I chopped vegetables for our "grill it yourself monja yaki on the hotplate" lunch, happier to be here with 6 young girls and L than alone at home. She declined a lunch invitation, not being fond of the menu but did accept some red bean paste filled snacks to take home for later.

After lunch, the girls suddenly decided they'd like to go ice skating and L chimed in that he'd like to go, so I had to get ready and go too as he and N are a little too much to burden the older girls with for the long train rides and rental skate selection etc. Our septuagenarian visitor happily said farewell and returned to her apartment as we made our way out the door.
Halfway to the station the 14 yr old niece decided that she was too tired and cold to go and returned to sleep all day to shake off an oncoming cold. She had been a little depressed that her plans to return home earlier than her sisters and have fun with friends on New Year's Eve had been impossible due to several million people already having reservations on trains, planes and buses going out of Tokyo for the annual New Year's trek to their hometowns. She kept in touch with the friends on her cellphone, texting and talking and did manage to be pleasant and kind to her little Tokyo cousins, taking and sending lots of pictures with her phone. S's sister called and complimented me on how big the kids were, so I guess some of the pictures must have been sent to her phone too. She also thanked me for keeping her daughters for the week, especially the 14 yr old, half of whose friends were picked up by the police on New Year's Eve for disorderly conduct, if SIL is to be believed.

Anyway, back to the Ice Capades. We arrived a little after 3p.m. and learned that the rink would close at 5 that day so we rushed to rent and lace all my kids into their skates. J, N and L had been skating once before and managed to do quite well while M, expecting it to be as easy as it looks on TV, especially with her natural prowess, was greatly surprised. After about an hour of screeching and laughing hysterically each time she fell (about every 30 seconds) she finally learned to relax a little and glide. The 18 and 19 yr old nieces did fairly well, having skated a few times before in Kyushu. Their main problem was my kids running into them or grabbing them for support. All were impressed by my grace on ice (ha! I still skate like a hockey player!), not expecting an older, larger person to be able to skate at all... I was the only member of the group with no bruises or aches after our 2 hours of skating.

Returning home, I rushed around making the New Year's food for the next day while S and the 7 kids watched special New Year's Eve TV shows and ate special buckwheat noodles to celebrate the changeover to the new year. We all walked to the nearest Shinto shrine to wish for good luck this year at midnight and say happy new year to the neighbors who were all doing the same thing.

After breakfast of the traditional food I'd made the day before with some hot chicken/bonito soup with rice dumplings, S told us we should go have fun at the local karaoke place. There was a "all-you-can-drink" soft drinks plus karaoke for a set fee so we all guzzled soft drinks (well, I had a few cocktails too...) and sang for close to 4 hours. L was in seventh heaven with so much soda. We returned home around 5 to collect luggage and head out for dinner before sending the nieces on into Shinjuku for their bus back to Kyushu. S wondered if other diners thought that all 7 were ours as there are similarities.

At the station, M managed bravely not to cry but the dam broke on the way home. L started to cry at bedtime, realizing the kind cousins had gone. N was happy to have a chance to sleep in the new futons I'd bought the day before the cousins arrived and J was just happy to sleep at all after such non-stop activity.

It sure seems quiet now.