Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas with family

It has been a busy week here and I thought I'd share a bit of what we've been up to!

My parents arrived in Karup last Wednesday morning to experience their first Danish Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve at Ole's sister's house so that they could get a taste of the 'real' experience, complete with roast duck, pork roast, caramelized potatoes, and of course, rice pudding with a whole almond for one lucky recipient. We then did the traditional singing and dancing around the Christmas tree before dancing through the entire house singing 'Nu er det jul igen' (Now it is Christmas again). I did my best to teach the song to my parents as we rode in the car to the festivities and I think they did a pretty good job learning it!

Christmas day we did a more traditional 'American' Christmas here. We exchanged gifts and made a full turkey dinner. I actually made Ole wait until Christmas Day to get his gift, which was quite hard for him! Here are some pictures from our Christmas feast...


Once we were done eating, my father was assigned the duty of getting the remainder of meat from the turkey bones. This task was supervised VERY closely by a couple of four-legged detectives. Their job was to catch anything that accidentally 'slipped' from the counter...


My father is quite the dog lover, and the big brown eyes of these two meant that there were quite a few 'slips' during the process!

On Sunday we had a traditional 'Julefrokost' here with Ole's family. My mother-in-law did the parts that required actual cooking of anything traditional. She does these things much better than I ever could!


What a wonderful Christmas from start to finish. I hope yours was as Merry!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Graduate!


This morning, December 22, 2009, I attended school for the last time - to pick up my official certificate of completion:
"Bevis for Prøve i Dansk 3"

Yes, I know I already told you all this before but humor me! Rumor has it this means that I can speak Danish now - umm, sure. Well actually I can speak Danish, it's the understanding when others speak Danish that seems to still be my greatest issue. Oh well!

Look at the picture. Really look at it. What do you see?, other than some official looking envelope. Chocolate? Yep, that's there too, compliments of the school.

But look again...

I have HAIR!! Sort of a salt and pepper look at the moment, but I'll take it. Still no eyelashes which means that I still can't wear mascara (pout).

I'm pretty sure, when I walked up to shake his hand, that the school director (who I never saw before today) was probably thinking... "what the heck happened to her hair?" Little does he know!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Where, oh where, does the time go?

It was Thanksgiving last I wrote a post and now, suddenly, it's almost Christmas! We spent Thanksgiving weekend relaxing at a spa in Poland and then I spent the last few weeks gearing up for my big final exam in Danish.

The grading system here is a bit odd to me, but the final result was 7, 7, 7... the last 7 counts twice but the three 7's, rather than 4, looks more like winning the jackpot in Vegas, so I'm going with 3. Finishing school is a bit like winning a jackpot!!

Moving along... in just 4 days my parents will arrive from the US for their first Christmas in Denmark! We've been busy get the house ready for their visit and for once, the weather gods have cooperated and sent some snow. Hopefully it will stick around so we can have a white Christmas.

First - the tree. We went to a local guy we'd been to before and he had the perfect tree for us - Ole actually picked it up off the ground and said, "how about this one?", and that first pick was the winner!

We happened to have had the dogs with us at the time, and our car has a split folding rear-seat, so lowered the 1/3 side and pushed the tree through the opening. This meant the dogs had to shove over in the back seat and share the remaining space. They were quite confused by the tree in the car, but surprisingly, they haven't touched the tree in the house!

Our tree now, all decorated...



The guy had a table full of free tree pieces he had cut off of other trees, and since I had planned on trying to make my own wreath, I took a huge pile of trimmings. I spent a few hours this afternoon attempting the wreath. It's not perfect, and now I've learned a bit for the next one, but here is my hand-made wreath!...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What are you thankful for?


Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and, with a year like I have had, on this day, I have much to be thankful for...

I am thankful that I am done with all of my treatments! The only thing left at this point is check-up appointments every 3 months or so. Yeehaw!

I am thankful that my hair is beginning to return; I missed it! It's still so short that I appear bald from a distance, but if you get up close, there actually is hair there - in a few more weeks it may actually look like hair!

I am thankful that my nails will return, even if it's hard to believe at the moment. To answer all of the comments after my last post, yes, they will come back! But, in the meantime, I have a pile of pistachios I can't crack open, and someone else is going to have to peel those clementines!

I am thankful for my rubber-boob-in-a-bra and my stick on boob. Yeah, it's the little things!

I am thankful for the hand-made hats that have covered my head for the last several months.

I am thankful for my dogs. It's impossible to cry when a dog is there to kiss your tears away, act silly, and do everything possible to be as cute as can be.

I am thankful for the Danish health care system. The entire process from start to finish has been made simple for me. Not once did I have to call an insurance company or make sure some treatment was covered. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to go through treatment worrying about what it costs or whether or not it was affordable. From head coverings to nail treatment packages to burn lotions to rubber boobs, everything that I could need to get through this process, has been handed to me. The nurses in this country are so sweet, caring and attentive - they have understood that I couldn't always understand them and they have done everything possible to help me along the way. Priceless.

I am thankful for my family. They are all far away but everyone is healthy and happy and in just a few weeks, my parents will be here in Denmark to celebrate their first Danish Christmas.

I am thankful for my co-workers. Every few weeks over the past year, a new card would arrive from the states with little notes from all of them. They have covered whatever work was mine whenever I wasn't able, and have been supportive and understanding through it all.

I am thankful for the generosity and kindness of friends, both old and new. I have received so many wonderful packages and notes from friends. I am incredibly touched that someone would go out of their way to make me something, or buy me something, and send it to me. Every single package, note and blog comment brightened my day and I am still overwhelmed by the kindness.

I am thankful for my friend Kelli. Yes, she is covered in the paragraph above; however, she also deserves to be singled out, even if it embarrasses her. When I was diagnosed, we had met just one time for a couple of hours and yet, when she learned of my diagnosis, she immediately jumped into action for someone she barely knew. Kelli arrived at the hospital on the day of my surgery with a basket full of American products, and she spent the entire day there with Ole, trying to keep him sane as the day went on and on. She visited me several times while I was in the patient hotel, driving from Herning to Viborg each time, and kept up my blog so that everyone else in my life could know how I was doing. As I went through chemo and radiation, she was always checking in on me - be it a text message, facebook message, Email or a phone call, I always knew that she was right there and that, had I needed anything, she would've made sure that she took care of it. She was there when it all began, she was there every step along the way, and she's still here now, when it is time to celebrate the end of treatment. And, this weekend, we are headed out for some relaxation, with our Danes in tow, to do just that.

Speaking of my Dane, I am thankful that I have the most kind, generous, funny, patient and understanding man with which to share my life. He has been by my side through everything and he is my rock. There are simply not words enough to say how much I love him, and how great he really is! Thank you Ole, for always making me feel loved and making me laugh even on the worst possible days.

And thank you to all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fingertips on a chalkboard


I lost my nails.

It's one of those things they tell you will happen, but you simply cannot comprehend that it actually does happen. Okay, I have one left and I'm protecting it for everything that it's worth. That the one remaining nail happens to be on my middle finger, is just a bonus.

It's not that I had extremely long nails or anything, but this is way different from simply keeping your nails short. There is a bit of nail, but it does not extend at all - so, if you look at your own nails, think of them without any of the white part.

The good news is that losing them didn't actually hurt. I feared it would be excruciatingly painful as it is when you have nails and one breaks too far down, but no, these just sort of snapped off.

Whoever said that 'nothing is impossible' never lost their fingernails. Trust me.

The last 3 weeks have been an endless string of frustrations and the list of things I am unable to 'do' just keeps growing. Allow me to share some of my list of impossibilities:

Scratch an itch
Peel an onion
Pick up a piece of paper
Hold onto anything
Remove a band-aid
Lift up the little wick on the tea light candle so it can be lit
Make screechy sounds on a chalkboard

Not that I actually own a chalkboard - it's the principle of it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I can vote!

Something very exciting arrived in the mail today - and something that I didn't expect would be fully automated!

As of November 8, 2009, I have been in Denmark for 3 years. My 'official' residency actually began on the day we applied for it, which means Denmark says I've been here since August 2006, but November is when I actually got here. But that's neither here nor there.

I had heard a rumor that said once I'd been a resident for 3 years I would be able to vote in local elections, but I figured I would have to go apply or register or something. Then suddenly, in today's mail, came this:




This is my voter's card and on November 17, I will get to vote in Denmark for the local elections. I get a voice in who will become the next 'borgmester' for our 'kommune' (county), which is kind of the equivalent of a mayor. Now I just have to figure out who's running, what they stand for, and all that good stuff. Unfortunately, they don't send a big voter's pamphlet like we get in the states!

Coincidentally, this is the same day as the writing portion of my Danish language exam so it's going to be a big day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hundesvømning!

After Lexi's recent trip to the water walker we've been investigating other options since the vet's office is a bit of a drive from here. In the US, the pet business is HUGE with doggy day care centers everywhere and all kinds of services made especially for pets. I assumed that we wouldn't have the same kind of options in Denmark and I'm happy to report, that at least in one area - I was wrong!

In our searching we discovered that there are many, many places in DK to take your dogs swimming, and no, I'm not talking about the local lake - I'm talking about indoor swimming pools just for dogs! The most exciting thing is that one of them is about 15 min from our house. We originally wanted to head there last Monday evening but when we called for an appointment we found that, apparently, we are the last to know as they were booked solid for the entire week! The first opening they had was today, Saturday, so at 12:30 this afternoon we took Lexi and Zoe to the swimming pool.

They loved it and we loved it, though we were both drenched from head to toe by the time we were done there. Lexi was a bit apprehensive about getting in the pool at the beginning, so we put a life jacket on her so we could help guide her, but once she figured it out, she was all in!





Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lost in Translation



I tend to forget now and then that a certain someone with whom I live, does not have English as his first language. We met one another speaking English, and we continue to do so 99% of the time. And let's face it, his English is WAAAAAY better than my Danish. So yeah, I forget.

Now and then things get lost in translation (mostly my jokes and puns). We now have a Wii and last night, that certain someone was surfing amazon.co.uk, checking reviews of the various fitness programs, calculating whether a certain game was cheaper in pounds, dollars or kroners (yes, he does this regularly - the currency thing) and trying to decide what to buy.

Along the way, Amazon put up one of those nice ads that tells you that if you sign up for an Amazon credit card, you'll get 15 pounds off your order, instantly! This caught his attention, and it needed to be read. After spending 15 minutes reading all the details of the offer he had made the decision to apply for the card.

If you've ever filled out one of those forms, you know there are a bunch of questions about how much money you make, etc. But, each country is different, so what may be a perfectly normal question on a US credit card application may not be on a Danish application or a UK application - different banks, currencies, rules, you know. For example, no one in a Danish bank knows what the heck you are talking about if you mention your 'credit score'.

Now all of this was happening on the computer next to mine, but I wasn't paying too much attention to it. Then suddenly he read a question out loud... "Time at your current residence"

Him: "Why do they need to know that?"
Me: "That's a pretty standard question on a credit card application - at least in the US"
Him: "But it's meaningless"
Me: "Well, they want to know how stable you are I guess - or something .. I can't explain it"
Him: "Makes no sense"
Me: "They want a picture of your financial security - and part of that is asking how long you've lived at your current address."
Him: ..... [lightbulb] OOOHHHHH

[Mr. Financial Brilliance thought they wanted to know what time it was at our house.]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A guest post from Lexi

Hi everyone! I asked my Mor if I could write about my experience today and she has given me permission - woohoo!! Of course I can't really type, but I'm very good at expressing myself and Mor also agreed to do the actual typing. One day I will figure out that keyboard thing - so frustrating... I try to hit one key and end up with 10 things.

Let's get back to me. Almost two weeks ago I had to visit Jesper because I've been a bit stiff when I wake up and I limp a bit if I play too much. Jesper's the guy that sticks needles into me while he's feeding me, thinking I don't notice. I know what's going on, I just pretend not to because the food is good! Well, apparently Jesper met with Mor and Far and said that I have some problems with my hips, something called Hip Dysplasia. I have no idea what that means but I guess it's why I can't go as fast as my sister Zoe.

This morning Zoe and I had just finished our breakfast and were in the yard doing our thing when suddenly Mor yelled for me to come inside. I thought maybe I was going to get an extra serving of breakfast so I hurried in, but then she put that dumb strappy thing on my nose. She calls it a 'Halti' ... I prefer to call it a torture device. But, in all fairness, when that thing does get tied to my head it usually means we're going somewhere - and that's always exciting! I love the car!! For some strange reason, it was only me going - Zoe and Far were staying home. Weird!

So first we went to the big building with the big parking lot. I was here once before so I know the drill.. I have to just sit in the car and wait while Mor goes in. After about 3 short snoozes, she was back and we were on the way. Not sure where we were going but we'd already been to the boring building so the good part must be coming next!

Mor played with some gadget that has little pictures and talks to her while she drives. The gadget lady gave Mor a few instructions and then we arrived at a doggy forest. Good lady! This wasn't my usual doggy forest and Zoe wasn't with me, so I wasn't sure what to do. I found some small mud puddles and splashed around a bit in them but Mor kept yelling "Nej" when I did that, so I moved on. Then a big handsome stud came around and I ran around the forest with him for awhile while Mor talked to another lady. After a bit, my new friend left and Mor said we had to go back in the car.

Then we drove to the little building with all the funky smells. I ran right to the door because I know this place always has food laying around. Where is it? Where is it? Ah ha, they hid it inside the spinning thing this time... found it! Ooooo, a cat! Hmm... that cat spit at me - not really sure what the big deal was, my cat buddies at home let me lick their heads.

Then a lady came and called my name - my turn!! We ran around to a new room that I hadn't been in before and it had some scary things and some fun things. There was a big ramp and I ran up and down and the lady kept giving me cookies - always a good thing. Then suddenly Mor went up the ramp with me and this is when I got a little nervous. There was a metal platform and I had to walk out on that and then step on this table that was up really high. The lady was still giving me cookies but now I wasn't so trusting - they were definitely up to something. But Mor kept saying it was okay and that I was a good girl, so I did what I was told. Next thing I know, the metal platform was gone and now I had no choice but to stand on the table.

Then it started. I was just standing there, being a good girl, when the table started going down and water started coming up. Don't get me wrong, I love water, but this was weird. When the water got deep I started swimming, of course, because that's what we dogs do in the water. But then the lady said not to swim, just stand... I thought that was strange. But then it got even stranger - the floor started moving under me. So naturally, I started swimming again! And again, she said just walk. It took me awhile, and splashing with my big paws got Mor pretty wet, but I finally got the hang of the thing. They tell me that all of this is so my hip muscles will get stronger. Not sure if that's true or not but I think I could manage to get in that thing again!

So anyway, Mor took a movie of me in the tank. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zapped


Just over 2 weeks ago I started with my radiation treatments. From start to finish there are 25 treatments. Viborg Hospital doesn't have a facility for radiation but luckily Herning hospital opened their new facility over the summer. Why luckily? Well, for me, it means that I only have to drive 30 min to my treatment - had they not opened I would have been driving over an hour each way to Aarhus instead.

Each morning for the last 2-1/2 weeks I have gotten up at 6:30 am to be in the car at 7:00 for the drive to Herning. The first few days it was light when I left the house but that's no longer the case - darkness has descended upon Denmark. I have had 15 treatments to date, which means there are only 10 left - woohoo! I have to say that all in all the drive hasn't been as awful as I feared.

Before all of this started, 'radiation' was just a word. I knew it was a treatment of some kind but I honestly had no idea what it was. As it turns out, it's rather uneventful. Radiation is basically a high-intensity x-ray. The treatment itself doesn't hurt a bit, but you can end up with skin that looks like it's been sunburned and that has now started for me. So far, not too bad, but there are still 10 to go!

This is how it all goes down each morning... (all times approximate!)

6:30 - get up and shower while Ole and the dogs stay in bed
7:00 - drive to Herning dodging potato tractors along the way (more about that later)
7:30 - arrive at the hospital and swipe my card to let them know I'm there
7:35 - go to cubby area and get my bag that contains my hospital shirt
7:36 - sit and page through year-old gossip magazines and will the door to the nurses to open
7:45 - door opens, my name is called
7:45 - go to changing room, remove clothes from waist up and put on hospital shirt
7:46 - nurse opens back door of changing room and leads me to treatment room
7:47 - remove hospital shirt and lay on machine
7:48 - lay on machine table with green laser lights shooting from all angles of the room
7:48 - listen to nurses tell me, in danish, to move my butt a little to the right and my shoulders a little to the left, etc., until I'm properly lined up in the machine.
7:51 - nurse says "94" which I assume is some setting specific to me
7:52 - music is turned on and nurses tell me they're leaving the room now and to lay still
7:52 - panic for a second while I figure out whether or not breathing is permitted while laying still
7:53 - lay there while machine makes funky noises and spaceship like parts move around me
7:55 - have obligatory hot flash while laying there
7:55 - nurses re-enter room and tell me it's now okay to move
7:56 - ride machine back to starting position
7:57 - sit up and put on hospital shirt
7:58 - walk to changing room, remove hospital shirt, put on burn cream, get dressed
7:59 - deliver bag with hospital shirt back to cubby room
8:00 - leave hospital and drive home

So, there you have it, all you ever wanted to know... and lots of things you probably never cared about.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Lexis

You know how, on Facebook, when one of your friends comments on another person's photos, sometimes those photos show up on your own sidebar? For example, I have seen literally hundreds of pictures of Leonbergers because Amy own Leonbergers and happens to be friends with lots of other people who own Leonbergers. (I honestly never knew there were so many Leonbergers in the world!)

So one day I'm surfing Facebook and I suddenly see a picture, in my sidebar, of a dog that looks amazing similar to one of my own. A friend had commented on this woman's dog, which placed that picture into my own sidebar, and as soon as I saw the picture I had to take a look. Upon opening the picture, I nearly fell off my chair - the dog's name was Lexi, and for those who read my posts regularly, you know that MY dog's name is Lexi.

Ready to be a bit freaked out?









This is the 'other' LexiThis is my Lexi
This is the 'other' LexiThis is my Lexi

My Lexi is not a purebred dog, by any means! And that's what makes this all the more unusual, at least to me. Lexi's mother is a purebred golden retriever, and her father is a black labrador. The two dogs were bred and when the puppies popped out looking like neither mom or dad, it was then determined that the black labrador was part german shepard; hence Lexi's coloring.

After I saw the pictures of the 'other' Lexi, I just had to write a note to the woman who owned this dog. She wrote back after comparing the pictures and was as surprised as I was how similar the dogs appeared. But wait... there's more!









The 'other' Lexi with a catMy Lexi with my cat, Petey
The 'other' Lexi with a black labrador friendMy Lexi with my Zoe

I will leave you with one last bit of trivia about the two Lexi's - their birthdays:

My Lexi: June 7, 2008
The 'other' Lexi: Born June 1, 2008

Yep, 6 days apart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Breaking the Benzine Barrier


Long, long, ago in a land far, far away, I regularly took my car to the gas station. I didn't really think much about it, just drove up, stuck the card in the machine and followed the on-screen instructions. Voila, gas flowed, car filled, receipt spewed out and I was on my way.

Then I moved. Far. To a foreign land. A land where they call it 'Benzine'. A land where the pumps don't look the same as the pumps I was accustomed to. These weren't tall sleek pumps with a credit card machine on each pump. No, no. They were short, and squat and, at many of the stations, there was just one machine in the center. A machine I feared.

I generally avoid doing things that would make me appear to be a complete fool; unless I admit up front that I will be a complete fool trying it, and then it's okay. But this was different. This was one of those things that everyone already knows - unless you're 13 - and even then, you've probably figured it out.

But the machine... with all it's funny foreignness, was daunting. What if I pushed the wrong button? Why was there only one machine with multiple pumps? Why was the lowest octane rating the 92 - that was always the highest, not the lowest! What if I somehow pushed the button for the wrong pump, would I then be paying for someone's benzine - someone that wasn't me?

But, I had a solution. I had a husband in this foreign land, one that understood the daunting machine with all it's funny little characters and words. And, he used the car much more than I ever did. And miraculously, the gar always had plenty of 'benzine' for me to consume wherever I needed to go.

So what began as just a fear grew into a bit of a challenge. How long can one live in a foreign land before one pumps their own gas?

Answer: 2 years and 11 months.

I have broken the benzine barrier and lived to tell about it. I pushed all the right buttons; I pumped the liquid gold...

Today's price after conversion = $6.68/gallon, but we prefer not to think in conversions. Instead we celebrate the fact that Benzine in Herning is only 8.95 Kr/Liter whereas the Benzine in Karup is 9.65 Kr/Liter - SCORE!

I did make a tiny fool of myself while returning the nozzle to it's holder but it would be impossible to explain. I figured it out and then scurried back to the car.

I no longer fear the machine. (okay, maybe just a little)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hello darkness my old friend...


We had just finished dinner, Ole had left to take the dogs over to the field (the 9pm doggy play date is now the 7pm doggy play date thanks to the sun's rotation), and I was just sitting down at my work PC to call in for our weekly meeting when poof... DARKNESS.

Our power went out - causing several battery backup systems to cry out, as if we didn't know the power was out.

So I did what I tend to do best - I called Ole. Not that he could do anything about it, but hey, it is his country and who knows, maybe there's some magical switch somewhere I can flip. But no, the entire neighborhood was out.

Now one of the great things about this country is that there is no shortage of candles. As a matter of fact, I believe that one of the lines on that immigration form that I signed said something like.. Thou shalt always have tea lights burning... in Danish, of course.

I dutifully wandered throughout the living room and kitchen lighting every candle I could find. As it turns out, we have quite a few! Then I was lost. Candle lighting project complete, but what now? After wandering aimlessly in and out of our computer room, knowing full well that my trusty computer would not suddenly start working on it's own but hoping nonetheless, I finally sat down on the floor, grabbed the cat brush, and started grooming Mr. Pete. Happy cat.

As I sat on the floor I began to notice a procession of cars - one by one my neighbors were piling in and leaving. Then Ole got home and stated that Rema (the local grocery store) was still open for 15 more minutes, so we blew out all the candles and followed the crowd. I do believe all of Karup may have been at Rema as there were at least 30 people in line when we arrived, and on a normal busy day, there's about 10.

We came home to discover that power had been restored. Party!! I fired up the PC while Ole turned on the TV to catch his soccer match. All was right with the world.

But - before I could even get to Facebook, woosh, gone again. So I ran around again lighting all the candles, again, and then I sat down and read my newly purchased Alt magazine, by candlelight. By the time our power was restored again, the soccer match was over (his team won) and I had learned that attempting to access Facebook via the internet connection on my phone took much too long for it to be any fun.

Hopefully our lights are staying on this time!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Latest News

Yep, that's me - done with chemotherapy!
(And still able to make things rhyme.)

11 days ago I had my last chemo treatment and I can confidently say that the worst is over. Woo-friggin-hoo!! Yes I still have some aches and pains, but they are minor and each day I feel a bit more like my old self again.

On Friday I went for my radiation mapping, and though I swore I'd never do it, I now have 5 tattoos. Well okay, technically, they're just little teeny dots so that each time I go for radiation they can make sure I'm lying in the exact same position. Wouldn't want that zapper thingie to miss! I will go every day for 5 weeks starting on September 30th. Which means, if you do the math, I will be DONE in the first week of November.

What else have we been up to? Well, we bought a pretty new clock to provide a taste of New York and to go with our newly painted living room...


I don't think the color is 'true' in these pictures, but it's close enough that you can get the idea of what the NCS version of BM's Saybrook Sage looks like...





We had new gutters installed on the house and the current project is painting things outside. Before we started, everything was a very dark brown and we're brightening things up a bit so stay tuned for the final results!

Lastly, my Google calendar is starting to fill up with actual dates and times of social events. Before you know it, I may have something that resembles an actual social-life!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bragging Rights...

Yep, I'm taking this moment to brag a bit about my incredibly talented oldest brother, Jeff. Not only did he write this particular piece but the second solo is him - he's the one sitting in the dark!

And yes I do realize that the video is 12 years old, but hey, youtube didn't exist back then!

The group is called "New York Trombone Conspiracy" and if you enjoyed this performance, you can find a bunch more on youtube. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Silver Anniversary

Today is the 25th wedding anniversary of one of our neighbors and the perfect time to explain another Danish tradition!

Last night the neighborhood was a frenzy of activity - kids running everywhere while the parents 'pretended' to drill holes in the neighbor's house. They didn't actually drill any holes but the idea is that you attempt to freak out the happy couple by pretending to destroy their house - or something.

By the time everyone went to bed, there was a beautiful 'gate of honor' at the couple's front door:


Between 6:30 and 7:00 am this morning, everyone gathered in the street in front of their house:


There was a trumpet and a flute to accompany what some would call singing...

The singing was sad. I'll give everyone credit for attempting a few tunes at this obscene hour of the morning, but let me tell you, they really needed a Ken Nelson (aka my dad), a man who can be heard miles away, to lead them in their songs. Instead, this singing sounded more like someone had woken a few mice and led them in a sad chorus. I kept thinking.. I thought this was supposed to be a happy occasion? When you have 40-50 people singing and you can still hear the flute... something is amiss! Perhaps by the time another couple on the street celebrates their 25th, I'll know the Danish better, and the tunes better, and I can attempt to lead them.

As the group started song #4, the happy couple appeared on the front stoop...


And when the singing ended, everyone was invited inside for breakfast.

While I love embracing new traditions, I must admit that to me, this ranks up there with the faulty concept of the danish birthday party. Hasn't anyone in Denmark figured out that when it's YOUR day, someone else is supposed to do all the work? The happy couple had transformed the inside of their house into a banquet hall with seating for all these people around 3 HUGE tables. I can only imagine where the tables and chairs came from - I hope they were borrowed and that it wasn't necessary to rent them or something!

Keep in mind, this was 7 am!! Which means, in order to serve breakfast to all these people, my poor neighbors were probably up at 5 am putting rolls in the oven, slicing cheese, setting out jars of marmalade, etc. I do hope that once everyone left they finally had some time alone to celebrate their anniversary!!

Note to the Danes... When Ole and I celebrate our 25th, please do come and sing to us, but, if it's not too much trouble, can you bring the breakfast with you? Oh, and some tables and chairs too? Thanks!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fire and Ice

Last Wednesday was my second dose of Taxotere. In my best effort to ward off side effects, I gulped down nearly 2 liters of water prior to the treatment. We were home, all ready to go, and then the phone rang. There was a problem at the pharmacy inside the hospital -something with ventilation - and they were unable to prepare the drugs for me. Thankfully, we weren't yet on our way and could just sit at home and wait.

Ole decided to take advantage of the little break and put on his painting clothes. Just as he was halfway through painting a window the phone rang again and now, of course, they were ready for us! He predicted that simply by changing his clothes and getting out the paint brush, they'd be ready, and he was right!!

When I go in for each treatment there is a whole question and answer session about the side-effects from the last time. This is where they decide what other glorious pharmaceuticals they will send me home with - more little bags of pills! The best thing is that I never have to go to the pharmacy for any of this stuff, they just give me little baggies with whatever pills I'm supposed to take.

In reviewing the last treatment, and my complaints about the numb fingers, it was decided that my hands would be put on ice. The nurse came with two frozen gloves and stuck my hands into them... holy ice, that hurt! But, I kept telling myself, if it helps, it's worth it!!


During the course of treatment, these frozen gloves came in quite handy. You see, one of the other wonderful side effects of all of this is that my body goes through menopause... or as it's called in some places, chemopause. And with chemopause, comes hot flashes. They were interesting and fascinating when they started, now they're just annoying! However, if you happen to be wearing an ice glove when you get a hot flash, just put your hand on your head and you'll instantly feel better!

After treatment, I was feeling the usual tiredness and spent the last few days just trying to take it easy knowing the worst was yet to come. Yesterday I spent most of the day in and out of sleep and wasn't feeling great last night so I decided at 10:30 pm that I would just go to bed. I mentioned to Ole that I was cold and as he gave me a hug, he said... "You're not cold, you're burning up." Bah. We then took my temperature, and yep, I had a fever.

The 'book' says that if I have a fever, I'm supposed to call them immediately and we did. And then, an hour later, I found myself in a small room, in a bed, in the hospital. They spent the next hour poking me, drawing blood, checking me, questioning me, etc., trying to determine whether it was just a fever or if I could have contracted something else. With my blood counts so low from the chemo, I'm not really able to fight off any possible infections, so they have to be extra cautious. Finally, they hooked up an IV with some antibiotics and saline and let me sleep, and Ole went back home.

After a frustrating morning of waiting around to see whether or not they'd let me come back home, and some pretty decent breakfast and lunch at the hospital, the doctor finally came to talk to me around noon. My fever had gone down and they cleared me for release. And here I am, home again!

So how did you spend your Saturday night?!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Whammies


Tap tap tap... is this thing on?

Hello world - I'm alive!

Last Tuesday was my first treatment with Taxotere (aka docetaxel). It seemed innocent enough. Oh sure, they warned about allergic reactions that can happen within the first 10 minutes of treatment, but I didn't experience that. I figured I was home free. I ... was wrong.



The day of treatment and the next day I had my usual tiredness but overall the Taxotere seemed to have much less impact than the previous treatments. I was thinking to myself.. weee.. this isn't bad at all! And then slowly, gradually, it snuck up on me. All my chanting of No Whammies, No Whammies, No Whammies... and then the little whammie with a lawnmower plowed through.


I don't remember the order of which horrible reaction came first, but I can tell you that if you go through the booklet of possible side effects and put a nice little check mark next to each one I felt, or am feeling, you end up with more marks than a high school trigonometry test.

I'll spare you all the gory details because 1. they'd probably gross you out, and 2. typing is still painful. Suffice it to say I'd rather have 2 more treatments of the first chemo drug than 2 more taxotere, but I don't get a choice in the matter. The worst effects that I'm still feeling are the numbness in my fingers (hence the typing issues) and the fact that nothing I eat tastes the way it's supposed to taste. Even water tastes funky! And, if you wish to share in my current misery, go to the kitchen and grab a bit of unsweetened chocolate as that will simulate what ALL chocolate is currently tasting like. They really should've warned me about that part. However, in fairness, had they done so, I would have been running out of there kicking and screaming.

There was one upside to the last treatment. While I was getting my treatment, a nurse came in and asked if I would like some lunch!! When she said that I could have tarteletter, I was so excited that nothing else mattered. The only other time that I ever get these is for julefrokest or easter time, made by my mother-in-law. This wasn't the hospital food they served back in the US!! One giant point for the Danish medical system...


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coloring My World

3.5 years ago, prior to my arrival, Ole moved into our house and, with the help of his dad, painted the entire house in good old painter's white. The great plan was that when I arrived, we would then choose some actual paint with which to decorate the place. Up until a month ago, everything was still white. Shocking, no?

An interior decorator I am most definitely not! I find the process of picking paint colors, rugs, curtains, and other associated knick-knacks to be excruciatingly painful. On the other hand, laying on the sofa staring at blank white walls is equally painful, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So off to the paint store we went - finally!

When you shop for paint in the US, you will be instantly overwhelmed with racks and racks of little 2x1 colored squares, on strips, from which to choose. Each color will have a carefully chosen name which is just about as relevant to the actual color as the names typically chosen for lipstick. Should you choose "autumn pumpkin" or "fireball sunset"? Sure, both are some shade related to orange, but they can't just call it orange as there are probably 500 strips of color that all fall somewhere between yellow and red and labeling them Orange 1, Orange 2, etc., would just bore people.

But the names serve another purpose - they let you choose your color based on a feeling. Autumn Pumpkin evokes memories of wandering a field of pumpkins in October, picking those perfect specimens that will then be carefully carved, adorned with a candle, and left to rot on your front porch until some teenagers come along to smash them in the street. Ahh, sweet pumpkins. If you want to have this memory of Halloweens gone-by everyday, then Autumn Pumpkin may just be for you! But perhaps a 'Fireball Sunset" is more to your liking. Perhaps you live where you don't ever get to see a proper sunset and would like to experience that feeling each evening in your living room. The bottom line is that Orange #4 just doesn't quite give you that same ease of choice - it has no meaning, and therefore, no memories - 'tis just a color. And without feelings, the process of choosing is just too difficult!

I thought everything would be the same here in DK. I was wrong. We arrived at the paint store only to find that there were no walls of paint chips. There weren't any books full of pictures of what Mango Mango could do for your living room, or what Apricot Dream could do for your kitchen. There was just a dude behind the counter and walls of nondescript buckets of paint. We went to the counter and the dude handed us a fandeck of the NCS color system - 1700+ colors. All without names. All simply labeled with the official NCS color codes.

It's a very mathematical system they've designed; apparently the Swedes are responsible. The color codes look like this: S 3010-G50Y, which I suppose is very helpful if you're trying to match the new carpet you purchased in S 3010-G10Y. Yep, exactly. To start this process, I had a general idea of what I wanted. For my office, I was looking for something in a terracotta type color, and for our living room, I wanted some sort of sage green. So I spun the deck, flipped back and forth, and did my best to make some choices. We left the store with 3 sample bottles of colors related to orange, and 3 samples of colors related to green.

We splashed my office walls with the 3 shades of orange so that I could sit and stare at them for a day and see which appealed to me the most. That plan worked out quite well and I was able to pick 1 of the 3 - woohoo! We splashed the living room with 3 shades of green, and that didn't really go as planned. One was too dark, one was too 1983 and the other was just ugly. Total strike-out. The next day, Ole went back to get the orange I had chosen, and to get 2 more samples of greens. The two new samples were equally horrible, but they also didn't match to the chips I had seen and we were convinced they hadn't been mixed correctly. At this point, I was just so frustrated by the process.

Off to the internet I went, searching for pictures that would speak to me by people who do such things as paint their kitchen and then put it on the web for all to see with the name of the paint. I found a forum at gardenweb full of green painted rooms and I learned that Benjamin Moore's Saybrook Sage seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, if only I could purchase BM paint. But I can't. But... Benjamin Moore happens to be the licensed seller of the NCS paint line within the United States, so I decided that if I could call a BM retailer, he would surely know how Saybook Sage translated to an NCS color code. He didn't, but he did hook me up with a phone number for the Benjamin Moore company's service group and that was my next call. This man was initially not so helpful... "It is BM's policy that we cannot translate our colors to other manufacturers". Ahh, capitalism at it's best. I reverted to my most desperate voice and explained to the man that I was living in Denmark and if I could purchase his product, I most definitely would do so, but unfortunately I cannot and I am desperate to use his company's color, if only I could figure out what it is, but I'm a total wreck and please, oh please, Mr. Benjamin Moore rep, help me out here! It worked. He said they likely have the NCS colors somewhere in his offices and while it wouldn't be exact, he was willing to give it a go and see if he could eyeball the closest color match. He would call me back. Needless to say, I was skeptical that I would hear anything from him and went on to Plan B.

I found a number for an NCS agent in the New Jersey. I called, he answered, he was British. Weird. I went through my whole plea for help again. I explained what Benjamin Moore had told me. The NJ Brit felt my pain and was sure he could help. He took my phone number and said he'd call me back in 10 minutes. Wonder upon wonders, he did. He then presented me with 2 choices: S3010-G40Y and S3010-G50Y. I thanked him profusely, carefully wrote down the numbers and handed them to Ole to go fetch some paint. 5 Minutes later, he called again, this time being more decisive and said go with the 50Y over the 40Y. It sealed the deal. Then, surprise, surprise, while Ole was driving to the paint shop, the Benjamin Moore rep actually called me back with what he had decided would be the closest match. His pick? S3010-G50Y. Woohoo, we were on to something and both reps had chosen the same!

Ole fetched, we splashed, we loved, decision made. Our living room is now Benjamin Moore Saybrook Sage, or NCS S3010-G50Y. You decide which sounds more homey.

I don't yet have any pictures to share of the living room as the room isn't really decorated yet for the new color scheme and I'd rather show off a finished product. However, I will share with you my wonderful new 'hyggelig' office - it's not for everyone, but I happen to love it!



And yes, there is a desk in the office as well, but pictures of desks are boring!

In other news...
Today is treatment day. This is my first of 3 Taxotere (Docetaxel) treatments. I have no idea how it will go or how it will make me feel - we'll have to wait and see. Catch you on the other side of the drip!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coffee and Diapers and ... Seriously?

I was curious so I headed over to google in an attempt to learn what are the most popular grocery items. Now, going with the theory that the first link is the best, I was taken to the following page of bestselling items under the category of Grocery, at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/grocery

I'll give you a few minutes to peruse that list - hurry back!

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Oh good, you're back. If you're like me, this particular list will raise more questions than answers. Let's review.

The #1 item is coffee. That in itself isn't really a surprise. The interesting part is that the #1 coffee on amazon comes in 'frustration-free packaging'. I can't remember ever becoming frustrated when attempting to open a package of coffee, and remember, this is before my first cup of the day. Annoyed perhaps, that a new bag must be opened, but not frustrated. If your 'normal' coffee ends up causing you frustration, perhaps you're buying the wrong brand, or maybe you need some help - let's be honest, is coffee really the source of your frustration?

I can't help but picture some woman with frazzled hair answering the doorbell to receive that package, tearing into the coffee (minus the normal frustration) and just snorting the ground up coffee, thereby skipping the entire brewing process - which, mind you, could be somewhat frustrating.

So we move onto #2 -some sort of accessory for a Braun shaver that apparently "leaves your shaver thoroughly and hygienically clean for a better shaving performance every day". Really. There goes my theory of the frazzled woman - apparently it's metrosexual men that are shopping for coffee at Amazon. And thingies for their shavers. If these thingies are the #2 item, these men are either incredibly hairy, hence requiring the daily changing of this item and purchase of so many of these, or incredibly concerned about the cleanliness of their Braun shavers. You decide.

Then there's some more coffee -with frustrating packaging I assume - then we move on to item #4 - baby wipes. Okay, now this one at least makes some sense. Anyone with a baby needs them and I suppose you go through them rather quickly. I'm down with that.

More coffee... more baby wipes... some fruit roll-ups which, I guess, are for said babies... now we get to the weight loss pills. No surprise there, honestly, you just had a baby, right?

Now we get some sort of powdered product, typically found at GNC. The object of this drink is "For maintaining and increasing lean muscle mass". Not really sure if it's the hairy men or the frazzle-haired new moms buying this one. I'm gonna assume it's the hairy men.

More baby wipes, more coffee, more shaving accessories.. hmm.. #12 - Organic chocolate coconut bar. Maybe it's sold only on Amazon?

Coffee, coffee, coffee, wipes, wipes... white strips (#18) and toothbrushes (#19)! Ahh, clean teeth does kind of go with the shaving obsession. Clean teeth, white teeth, check.

More wipes, more coffee... diapers! Where there are baby wipes, there are diapers.

#23 -
Let's move on... As we continue further down the list of the top 100, there seems to be an overall theme of babies and coffee with the occasional personal care item thrown in here and there. #33 is Prilosec - acid reducer. Considering that about 20 of the top 30 are coffee, it's no surprise that acid-reducer may be needed, particularly if you consider these coffee drinkers also have babies.

Then we get to #56 - "K-Y Intense Arousal Gel For Her". Seriously? At this point, I'm going to recommend that our frazzle-haired woman and her hairy, metrosexual husband may want to focus their attention elsewhere. Really. Perhaps this is what got you into this whole baby mess in the first place.

Now, if you're like me (which you probably won't admit to if you are, and who could blame you) as you scrolled through this list of the 100 most popular grocery items, you learned something. I'm not sure if you learned something about humanity in general, or just Amazon shoppers, but chances are you noticed that someone, somewhere has an obsession with coconut flavored products, there are many people purchasing baby wipes at amazon, and coffee. Who knew this many people purchased their coffee, in bulk, via the internet. Oh, and they shave - often.

But nothing jumped out at me quite like #74.

Ladies and gentleman - I present to you - the most ridiculous and insulting representation of an American president - ever...

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter

I kid you not - it's an Obama chia-pet that, in truth, looks nothing like Obama. If I were president and that were me, I'd be using that power of office thing to get that representation of me off the market. Does anyone need to be growing weeds out of the president's head? And, oh look... it comes in both 'happy' and 'determined' - maybe I'll buy both so I can put the appropriate Obama chia-head in my office window each day.

After that item appeared, I pretty much gave up on the rest of the list. The shock value of that alone made me close the browser.

And now that I've looked at the list again, all the way, my whole hairy man theory is out the window...

#98 - Rogaine for Men Hair Regrowth Treatment

Or maybe the only place he's missing hair is on his head.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Doggy Play Dates

Depending on how you look at things - we either don't have kids, or we do, and it all comes down to whether or not you count the 4-legged variety as kids. My 4-legged creatures are my kids. Current tally - 2 cats, 2 dogs.

Now the cats are entertaining in their own way and they don't ask much of us - some food, some water, and someone to clean their toilet on a regular basis. It doesn't hurt to occasionally give them a wee bit of roasted chicken or some juice from a tuna can. These are the things that make cats happy. Mr. Pete is the strong silent type, pretty much a pillow with legs. The only time he makes any noise at all is if you step on him, or attempt to give him a bath, both of which I have done - one turned out a bit better than the other. I'll let you guess which one. Mr. Coal, on the other hand, always has something to say, we just don't know what. If any living being passes his line of site, he'll speak. It could be a happy sounding meow, it could be a "yikes, where did you come from?" howl, or, when he really wants to freak us out, he resorts to the middle of the night 'I see cat fairies' chirps howls and other assorted noises. These are much more guttural, and bit creepy. I think he just likes to hear himself speak. It's rather comforting to me that he does talk so much as he is approximately 17 years of age and if he's speaking, he's breathing! All in all, however, the cats are simple.

(Side note - in the course of writing the above paragraph, Mr. Coal has had an entire conversation at the other end of the house - either with one of the dogs, or himself, I'm not entirely sure.)

The other two creatures, Miss Zoe and Miss Lexi, are not so simple and are far more demanding. They need entertainment. And if you think dogs can't tell time, or have no concept of time, you'd be wrong. Zoe and Lexi know exactly what time their daddy is supposed to be home from work, and they know when it's 9pm. They can be sleeping peacefully, but if that clock ticks just a bit over the 9pm mark - they're wide awake and crawling all over us. Why? It's doggy play date time!

It used to be that each evening, around 9pm or so, we'd take them for a walk around the 'hood. It was important to us that we got out for the walk before 10pm because that's when the light on the bike path gets turned off - you try to see two black dogs on leashes, in the darkness of a danish winter, and you'll agree that a lit path is important.

Then along came Stella. Stella is a yellow lab who lives in the 'hood. Stella is Zoe and Lexi's BFF and as Stella went from small puppy to large dog, our walks went from casually strolling around the block to meeting over in a field where all 3 could run wild. The beginning of the official doggy play date. Now, it's important to understand that Stella's mom is in the military, doesn't take no for an answer, and will tell it like it is. Why do you need to know this?

Because, also in the 'hood, is Bella. Miss Bella is the about 6 months younger than Zoe and is a chocolate lab. Unfortunately for Bella, she doesn't seem to get out much. We watched her go from sweet chubby puppy to sweet chubby doggy - a dog that desperately needs exercise. Each evening on our way to the field, we pass Bella's house, and more often than not, Bella is on her outdoor lead, in the driveway, and she always does the Bella dance when she sees us pass. The Bella dance involves twisting the hind legs back and forth (like a kid who's gotta pee), swinging the tail wildly and high-stepping with the front paws. But each time we tried to hint to Bella's dad that Bella should come out and play with us, it never worked. Stella's mom, on the other hand, well - let's just say that I think she flat out told Bella's dad that Bella was getting fat, needed exercise, and to be at the field at 9pm. Amazingly enough - it worked! No, Bella doesn't come every night, but if I see her 2 times in one week, I'm thrilled for her and you can just see how happy she is to be out playing with friends!

So, it's become a thing. Our doggy play dates. We're always recruiting - we'll tell any dog owner we see - the more, the merrier! About 2-3 weeks ago, just as doggy play date was ending - dogs all leashed for the stroll home, fat pink tongues hanging wildly from happy mouths (the dogs, not the owners) - a small speck appeared in the distance. One tall man, one small yellow labrador puppy. 9 weeks old. Awwwww! Stella mom wasted no time and got right to the recruiting - and we now have the first 'boy' dog of the doggy play date pack, Sofus.

If you're ever in Karup around 9pm, and you have a dog, head for the field. You'll find us, and a whole pack of very happy dogs.

And now, I'll leave you with a few pics of the crew in action (unfortunately, the night I had my camera, Bella was not in attendance so she's not pictured!)...











Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rockin Robin

So this morning I was just doing my normal work stuff when I headed to the kitchen to fill up my coffee. As I approached the kitchen, I heard some strange noises and immediately saw the source of the noise... a tiny little bird was in a panic on the kitchen windowsill - somehow this bird had flown into my house!

Before you ask "how the heck did that happen?", you have to realize that in this house, with two dogs, the 'terrace' door is almost always open with a big long hook so the dogs can go out in the yard during the day without me having to open and close the door each time. I can only assume my little birdy took a wrong turn and suddenly found herself in the house.

Keep in mind - this house has two dogs and two cats. Birds, while cute, can cause quite a commotion around here and this one certainly did.

Since the bird was on the windowsill, I immediately thought if I just opened that window, out it would go. Things didn't go according to plan. By the time I managed to swing the window out, Ms. Birdy had taken flight towards the other end of the house. As soon as she took to the air, Petey the cat started chasing, and as soon as Petey started running, Lexi and Zoe were off in hot pursuit. So, to sum up, bird flying, cat chasing bird, dogs chasing cat, and me freaking out about how I am going to get this bird safely out of my house! My next step? Call Ole.

Not that the phone call accomplished anything other than to let Ole know that we had a bird flying around the house, but I just had to tell someone so that I could calm down and stop panicking. While I was calling, Ms. Birdy had perched herself on a door frame. By the time I hung up, she wasn't there anymore, Mr. Pete had lost interest as had the dogs, and everything was calm, so I just assumed she must have found her way out.

Fast forward a few hours. I was sitting in my office working and every now and then I would hear a strange rustling noise. It finally dawned on me that the bird must still be in the house. There is an empty cardboard box in my office and the sound was coming from said box. I walked over to the box and shifted it about one inch and the bird took flight again! This time into the computer room - to the top half of the window (the part that doesn't open). Mr. Pete once again arose from his slumber to investigate. I didn't worry that Petey would actually catch the bird - he's far too fat, slow and dumb, but he made a good effort on the chasing part!

Following a 'bird' theme - I decided to send a 'twitter' to thewriter , the only person I know who knows anything about birds!

I managed to open the window in the computer room - Ms. Birdy still on the top half. Then I stood my distance to see if she'd find the open window. At one point she perched on the bar that turns the blinds and slid down a bit and I thought.. ahh.. she's going to get out! Then poof, into the air again and up to the top of the bookshelf to hide behind some boxes there. Foiled again!

Fast forward another hour or so and this time I'm on the phone with my office. Suddenly Ms. Birdy flies out of the computer room and heads for the spare bathroom. When Ole then came home, I suggested she may still be out in that area and that he should open the door out there, but he couldn't find her, so again, we hoped she had found her way out.

She hadn't. She was hiding - behind some boxes - again. (I really need to get all of these random stacks of boxes out of my house!) This time she flew toward the terrace door and we finally had a real chance to help her. We opened both terrace doors all the way, all the while holding back 2 extremely curious dogs that really, really, really wanted to help, and finally, after a few shuffles around, Ms. Birdy managed to fly to freedom. Yeehaw!

Lexi and Zoe quickly took to the yard and did a full sniff investigation to see if this flying creature really had left the premises.

Ms. Birdy has left the building.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Advantages and Disadvantages

Hot time, summer in the city. That is, if you can refer to 75F as hot, and a very small town in the middle of Jutland as 'the city', which really would be stretching it, on both fronts, but stay with me here.

We are having summer weather in DK and I love it!! It's quite rare that wind ever stops blowing in this country, so I have yet to witness a truly hot, humid day of the kind I grew up with. This hot is more like pacific northwest heat - hot if you're in the sun, relatively cool out of it. I miss my humidity filled days with the late afternoon thunderstorms, but given that there is little AC in this country, we're probably better off without that!

But I'm not here to talk about the weather (had you fooled, didn't I?). Let's chat for a moment about baldness - the pros and cons, so to speak! Keep in mind this is coming from someone who has not only had long hair for the last 20 years, but extremely thick hair as well!

Advantages:
  • It's cool! In this (relative) warmth, it's quite a treat to not spend even a second of my day figuring out whether to do a ponytail or a braid as the chosen method for keeping my hair up. Timing is everything - It's the summer. Were it winter, I think perhaps I might miss the hair and it's associated warmth.
  • New sounds! If I put on the right pair of little hoop earrings, and then go out in the wind, I get all sorts of cool new whistling sounds as the wind passes by my naked head and through the little hoops. Interesting, no?
  • Speaking of the right pair of little hoop earrings - people can actually SEE my earrings now! It does encourage the wearing of the ear jewelry when it can actually be seen rather than hidden under hair.
  • Hair care products - zero, zip, nada! I spent some time last weekend going through every cabinet in the bathroom - took all the hair stuff (shampoo, conditioner, gels, sprays, hairdryer, hair clips, scrunchies, other assorted miscellaneous products related to hair) and put it all in a storage container and out of the room. Freedom!
  • No shaving! It's not just my head folks. I have smooth legs! I'd love to say I'm taking full advantage and going the 'who wears short shorts' route, but I'm no Daisy Duke and those types of shorts don't really fit the current body shape. I'd prefer not to frighten those around me. Even so, the razors were all packed away with the hair care products, yeehaw!
  • Fast showers!
  • If it's not there, it's not gray.
Disadvantages:
  • Boys will be boys. It was actually quite an amusing moment, but telling nonetheless. We went to my in-laws last Saturday and my mother-in-law must have told my nephew in advance that I may not have hair. He's umm.. 5 or 6? Anyway, I was wearing a cap, but he was curious. When I sat down in the living room, he came over and asked me.. "Do you not have hair?". I explained that I did have a little bit of hair, but for the most part, it was gone. "Can I see?" So, I decided why not, and took my cap off for him, at which time he pointed to my head and laughed. In fairness, I thought it was actually quite a funny moment!
  • The sad looks. Yes, I'm bald. No, it's not by choice. No, I'm not dying. Stop giving me the droopy face. I'm fine!
  • Scarf tying 101. It takes longer to tie a scarf than a ponytail. The time I save on not 'doing' the hair is instead being spent on figuring out how, exactly, to make a scarf look fashionable on my head. The little hats I have are the quick alternative, but the scarves are also fun - if I could just get the tying part of it figured out!
  • Bug bites! Did you know mosquitoes and other assorted flying annoyances will bite your head? ARGH! We take our dogs to a doggy play date on a field near our house nearly every evening, and apparently the bugs that call that field home are not too thrilled by the exuberance of 5 dogs and have chosen to take out their anger on those responsible for bringing the dogs to their field. They bite. On my head. It's really, really, annoying. I've always been a bit of a mosquito magnet, but this biting on the back of my naked head is just adding insult to injury - knock it off! Speaking of which, can one even purchase insect repellent in DK, and if so, what exactly is it called and where does one get it? I can't take much more of this but I don't want to cover my head in something designed to kill aphids on rose bushes either. And, I don't want to spend the entire summer looking like I just spent 39 days on Survivor. My head is bald, it is not, however, a pin cushion.
So there you have it, and if we're going on bullet points alone, it seems that the 'pros' have won the debate!

Go ahead ladies - you know you want to join my little party!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drip, drip, drip...

Last Friday was treatment #2, another joyous morning of visiting Viborg Hospital!

This time my appointment was 9:40 AM and this time, I was a bit more prepared. After doing some reading of various forums concerning chemo, I found that although the various pills they give me just say to take them before treatment, they don't really give any kind of time frame. Forums full of people that have been through it - this is the real place to get some decent information!! So, pills were consumed at 9 AM, shooting for the 'one hour before treatment' time frame. I was right. Though my appointment was at 9:40, it was 10:00 am before any type of treatment would actually begin. I also drank an entire liter of water before arriving.

Last time they told me that they were going to have a group of patients for this treatment slot that all were breast cancer patients. However, when we got there, I was taken to the exact same chair I had been in the last time, and again, I was the only one in this particular treatment room. I wonder if they fear I will scare away the others? While it would have been interesting to chat with some other patients, I wasn't horribly disappointed that we were alone again.

I am very happy to report that this time they stuck the needle on the first try - WHEW! I was not looking forward to another Guantanamo Bay torture session. Perhaps that's an extreme description but when you're the one sitting in the chair having the needle poked in and taken back out multiple times, it certainly feels extreme!

The nurse stays and monitors while they drip in the red juice (drug #1). I'm not entirely sure why this particular drug requires full time monitoring, but who am I to argue. During this first half of treatment, while having poison dripped into my body, I get the pleasure of attempting to figure out what the nurse is trying to say to me, in Danish. Needless to say my brain isn't really in full gear during these moments, so it's probably good that Ole comes along. I just look over at him, he tells me what she said, and we can all get onto the next sentence.

After the first bag is complete, the nurse switches the IV, and then she leaves. Because I am always thinking of all of you, my wonderful readers, I decided to pass the time by attempting to get a picture of myself. After several failed attempts at doing a self-portrait, I handed the cell phone over to Ole, who then, after a few deleted (by me) attempts, managed to finally get this shot.



I'm sporting one of the snuggly caps that my mother crocheted for me - isn't it pretty!? The treatment chair is fully adjustable - not because you need to make all kinds of adjustments, but just to give you something to do while you're sitting there bored out of your mind. Or at least, that's my take on it.

After about 45-50 min, treatment #2 was complete. We made our way home where, after approximately 1-2 hours, I fell into dreamland.

Today is one of those better, but not quite normal yet, days. Little pangs of nausea come and go, but nothing to get too anxious about. I'm coming around the bend of treatment #2 - only 1 more of this drug combo, and then 3 of another drug to go!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The wrong side of the bed?

There's an old saying about 'waking up on the wrong side of the bed' that serves to tell others you're having a bad day. It's always been a bit strange to me. I mean, even when I was single I had a double bed all to myself, I don't recall ever having woken up on the other side of it. How does that happen exactly? And if it did happen, I'm not sure I'd have gotten out on that side, I would've just shimmied my way over to the 'right' side and went about my day. Now I share a bed, and now it would be virtually impossible to wake up on the wrong side - I mean, seriously, what kind of sleep are you getting if you actually switch places at some point in the middle of the night. It's not like Ole gets up to go to the bathroom and comes back and shoves me over while I'm sleeping. Zoe does try to shove me over, but not to the wrong side, she's just shoving me OFF the bed more than anything. So, no, I don't wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Based on personal experience, I think a more accurate description of a day filled with confusion, is one described as 'having showered out of order'. Let me explain. Unless I'm the oddball (no worries, it's happened before), I'm assuming that most people have a routine when it comes to showering. Something you do every day (or at least most days) and probably something you do in the same order, each day, without thinking. Mine has always been:

  1. Get wet
  2. Apply shampoo, rinse (no need to repeat, those directions on the bottle serve only to sell more shampoo)
  3. Apply conditioner
  4. While conditioner soaks in, soap up and rinse
  5. Shave legs
  6. Rinse out conditioner
  7. Stand under hot water and contemplate the meaning of life (optional - depending on time)

Then it's time to move on to the drying stage of the routine. So I reach for the towel (mine is furthest from the shower, and no, I don't know why, considering that of those who use towels in this house, I have the shorter arms, but oh well, it's not like I'm bitter about it) and once I have grabbed the towel, the face is dried first. The rest is a bit tough to describe, because I'm not really conscious of how it's done, it's just done. However, the last step of the process involves turning around to face the shower, followed by flipping the head upside down, throwing the towel around the shoulders, then wrapping said towel around all hair and turning right side up again so that I end up looking a bit like a naked Carmen Miranda minus the fruit basket on top.

There have been days that, for inexplicable reasons, things suddenly get out of order and that out of order-ness, in and of itself, can throw off everything that happens for the rest of my day. Like accidentally grabbing conditioner before the shampoo. Or applying shampoo for a second time when it was actually time for the conditioner. Or suddenly shaving my legs before having shampooed. Any of those things will cause not only the rest of the shower to be in a complete state of disarray and confusion, but the rest of my day!

In the past 3 weeks I have gone from thick, curly hair in need of deep conditioner, to short hair I wasn't sure what to do with, to short hair being pulled out in seemingly bizarre clumps, to no hair. For the 3 weeks that I had short hair, I didn't know what to do with it. Seriously. How much shampoo do I use? Do I even need conditioner now? Does this shampoo make my hair spike a bit more or lay down flat (I was going for the spiky)?

Through all of the short hair phase, I kept my drying routine, and dutifully kept doing my big hair flip only to be suddenly reminded, each and every time, that there was nothing left to flip. Really cuts down on the drying time but (til gengæld), added to the styling time because I couldn't figure out what the heck to do with the hair - gel, no gel, mousse perhaps, hairspray, what to do, what to do - each day became a new experiment. Some were successful, but were doomed not to be repeated as I couldn't quite figure out by the time the next day rolled around, what exactly I had ended up doing with the hair the previous day.

And then, the short hair exploded in hand fulls. And finally, I pulled out the clipper, and took off what remained. Yes, it was an extreme move, but quite fun actually and what was left was nothing short of irritating and no longer necessary. Now I'm just a stubble strewn head in a world full of hair. If you think going from long hair to short hair messed up the shower routine, try going to NO hair! I'm no longer quite sure what to do with myself in there. I've officially moved on to the Reader's Digest Condensed version of 'how to take a shower':

  1. Get wet
  2. Soap up and rinse
  3. Stand there dazed and confused wondering if that's all there is to it
  4. Stand under hot water and contemplate the meaning of life (fully dependent on the length of time spent on #3)
So, what do you think? Are you a wrong side of the bed person or shower out of order person? Or are you now just shaking your head trying to figure out why I'm so strange?
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