The Sonia Show

Writer. Mocker. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.


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I put the ‘ass’ in ‘chemo class’

Yeah, so, I had to take an “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Chemotherapy But Were Afraid To Ask” class at Kaiser.

Basically, it was a class that describes exactly what chemotherapy is, and then it lists of all the side effects and what I can do to deal with those side effects. It wasn’t my favorite way to spend 90 minutes. Also, I already knew a lot of what the class had to say because I’m pretty good at Google.

There were three other people in the class. I’m doing chemotherapy as an insurance policy. I don’t have cancer anymore. This is purely a precautionary measure. The other three people in the class … I don’t’ think that’s their case. They are doing chemo, because they have to. Two of the three were older women and they were in the class alone. I could feel how scared and anxious they were. I felt really terrible for them. It made me reach out for David’s hand, and I didn’t let go through the entire class. The other person was a man and his wife, and he was starting chemo the next day. He asked about medical marijuana. Yeah, dude. Good question. And the answer is, “Oh hell yeah.”

There was a lot of anxiety in the air in the class, so I tried to keep my assy questions to myself. For example, both diarrhea and constipation are side effects. I wanted to ask, “What happens if you get both at the same time? Do you explode?”

I decided it was better to Google that question. Here’s a tip for you: Don’t Google that question.

lost

 


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Don’t stick me, bro

Yeah, so, it turns out I have the type of veins that don’t like to get poked with needles. So much for my lifelong dream of being an intravenous drug user.

On Friday morning, I had a few doctor appointments. I decided instead of trying to work and go to all these appointments, I would just take the day off from work. Normally, I like to use my PTO days for fun stuff such as drinking beer or staying home with a sick kid or both. Oh well.

One of the doctor appointments was for a heart test. Before I start chemo, the docs need to make sure I have a strong heart. I am so over all these tests, but I was curious about this one. I would have medical proof that I don’t have a cold, dead heart. I wanted to take a photo of the heart scan as proof. Maybe make it my profile photo on Facebook. Anyway, it turns out the test didn’t happen.

On Wednesday, I went into Kaiser for blood work, and the tech found a vein immediately and took 11 (11!) tubes of blood. This time around I wasn’t so lucky. My veins didn’t want to cooperate. This is turning into a reoccurring problem. The minute they even sense a needle is approaching my veins all run and hide. Before the mastectomy last month, the nurses poked me many, many times before finding a vein in my wrist. Eww. This time around for the heart test, the nurse was able to insert an IV, but when she went to do the injection of the special dye, it started to burn. She removed the needle and tried for a new vein. It sucked.

Hanging ou in the hospital with an IV listening to the F This Movie podcast like I always do.

Hanging out in the hospital with an IV in my hand, listening to the F This Movie podcast like I always do.

After that, it turned into a Marx Brother movie with multiple nurses and techs filing in and out of the room trying to hit a vein like the winner was going to get a prize. They stuck me in the arm a few times and even tried some veins on my feet. No prizes were awarded.

After the sixth or seventh attempt, I told them that I was done. I gave them one more chance, and if they didn’t make it rain, I was calling it quits. So, I walked out of there with little cotton balls and tape all over me from where they tried to tap the veins, but no heart test. Plus, they used a plastic tape that I had an allergic reaction to, and I got little rashes everywhere they stuck me. They had to switch to paper tape or something.

Ugh. I’m that person … with the uncooperative veins and sensitive skin. To be fair, I was really nice about it. I really was. The nurses even walked me into the waiting room and told David that I was super awesome, and he should get me some chocolate and wine STAT – and not necessarily in that order.

I’m going back for the heart test next week. On Monday, I’m getting a port. I wish I was talking about a delicious wine. Instead, I’m talking about a little thing they are going to put under my skin, right beneath my collar bone, that will basically be a direct line to a vein. A lot of people who do chemo get a port so that the nurses do not have to hunt for a vein every time. It makes sense. Of course, I was completely resistant to it because I’m a pain in the ass. To me, it was just one more procedure that I didn’t want to deal with, but after getting poked by needles repeatedly, the port is starting to sound like an awesome idea.

I’m sure you are looking forward to some awesome photos of my port next week, right? You won’t want to miss it. I can practically taste all the blog hits that post will get.

So anyway, let’s talk about some good stuff that happened.

On Friday night, I met up with some of my favorite ladies for beer at The Good Hop. A good time was had by all. My ladies really know how to cheer me up. I’m lucky to have such great friends, who make me laugh and make me feel loved and understood.

goodhoppers

On Saturday, my sister and my nieces came out to our place to hang out with Calvin, so I could take mighty, mighty good man David out for a fancy steak dinner at Harris Steakhouse in San Francisco as a belated birthday dinner. I wore my brand-new Coach Dress from ModCloth. I heart this dress. Super cute. And, ladies, it has pockets. I know, right?!

newdress

We had a wonderful dinner, and Calvin had an amazing time with his cousins. He thinks they are the coolest. And obviously, the feeling is mutual.

weheartcalvin

Read the fine print.

Read the fine print.

Sunday was our annual Oscar party. We had a ton of Oscar movie-themed food. We had Captain America: Winter Salsa, The Theory of Everything Pizza, Cool Whiplash and – of course – Birds, Man. For the full list, check out my Instagram.

Even though I had only seen one of the Oscar nominated movies (“The Lego Movie”), I still managed to correctly guess 15 out of 24 on my Oscar ballot. Not that bad. Not as good as I used to do. I think one year I actually got 23 out of 24. I don’t think I have correctly guessed them all. Anyway, I may have won the Oscar poll, but my friend Roger was the real winner of the night – meaning he won both Calvin and Homer’s hearts.

Hi Roger. We're best friends now, right?

Hi Roger. We’re best friends now, right?


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She bangs

Yeah, so, I’ve had the same haircut and color for about 7 years. I figured right now would be a great time to try something different … especially since I’m starting chemo in March and all my hair might fall out anyway. What do I have to lose, right? I mean, besides my hair.

So, I got bangs.

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This gif is for good buddy Katie, who really, really love “The Kroll Show.”

I got bangs, and I changed up the color a little bit. It’s still red, but it’s more brown red than red red.

bangs

Of course, I did go into this haircut with a pretty good idea of how it would look. I bought a wig a few weeks ago in preparation for chemo. It’s a cute, little wig. At the urging of good buddy Jess, I got a wig with bangs, because it would hide the fact that’s it a wig better, not to mention it would hide my lack of eyebrows.

I tried on the wig, and it was so cute that I thought, “I should get my haircut like this right now.” I immediately sent the photo out to my group of ladies for input, and the decision was unanimous: It was cute. My idea was this: When all my hair falls out, I can transition to the wig, and it won’t be such a shock. I brought my wig into my regular stylist and asked her to cut and color my hair to look like the wig. She did an amazing job. It looks a lot like the wig – so much so that some of my best friends saw the photo and assumed it was the wig.

I asked Calvin what he thought of my new hair, and he just pointed and said, “Hair.” He is not wrong. It is hair. I’ll take that as a compliment. David says he likes it, which is not surprising because he has always had a thing for Velma from “Scooby-Doo.”

amelie

When I look in the mirror, I think I look adorable like this.

velma

But the truth is I really look like this.


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It’s fancy beer time

Yeah, so, last week, mighty, mighty good man David and I went to the San Francisco Beer Week Opening Night Gala.

It was our first date night since the mastectomy last month. We had a great time, and there was a ton of beer to try. There was a much bigger crowd this time around. Last year, the event was in the Concourse Center, and this year it was in Fort Mason, a much larger venue. I heard there were 1,900 tickets sold. At first, I found the crowd to be a little overwhelming, and some of the lines were a little too long for Short-Attention Sonia, but eventually I got drunk used to it.

sfbeerweek

Just hanging out in front of the SF Beer Week sign, looking cool. You know, like you do.

I tried just enough beer at the SF Beer Week Opening Night Gala, meaning if I had anymore I surely would have been sloppy drunk. I was all about dumping the beer that I didn’t really like. I usually have the need to drink it even if I don’t really like it – kinda like the need to clean your plate even when you are full. This time around, though, I decided that if I can only handle so much beer, I’m not going to waste what I can handle on beer that I found to be less than delicious.

So what were my faves? I really loved the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Drakonic Stout from Drake’s Brewing. Not surprising. Drake’s Brewing had one of my favorites last year, too: an amazing sour beer. Also, I’m a huge sucker for bourbon barrel-aged beer. I almost always love it. I really enjoyed Bob Quad from Social Kitchen & Brewery and Brass Parachute Barleywine by Third Street Aleworks. David really loved the Drakonic, too, and ZZ Hop by Auburn Ale House.

We made sure to hit up a lot of the breweries that we never tried before. I love Speakeasy and Almanac, but they are our neighbors, and I have their beer all the time. I tried to be really good about logging all the beer I tried, but I know I failed. Still, if you want to see an almost complete list of what I tried, check out my Untappd.

Within the past year, David and I have collected many bottles of beer that we refer to as “super-fancy beer:” beer that we are saving for special occasions. Well, since I’m going to be doing chemo for the next five months, and I can’t really drink, we have decided that the next couple of weeks are special occasions so be on the lookout for check-ins, Instagrams and tweets about “super-fancy beer.”


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Back to work

Yeah, so, I made my glorious triumphant return to work this week. With my return to work, the office has seen a huge increase in groan-inducing puns, eye rolling and general jackass-ery, because working with me is awesome.

My coworkers have been super kind throughout my recovery. I received a big gift bag the day before my surgery filled with a Hot Tamales, cozy socks, Star Wars goblets and a snuggly, red blanket that I basically lived under for two weeks during my recovery. They also sent me gifts every week at home during my recovery, and a lot of folks pitched in to cover for me so I wouldn’t walk in to a complete content shitshow when I came back. I’m really lucky to work with such good people.

Everyone seems happy that I’m back and to hear that I’m cancer free. It sucks to have to tell people over and over that I will be starting chemo in March. Maybe I should just announce it in the company newsletter or something. “Business cards are 50% in March. Also, I’m starting chemotherapy in March, so my wig and lack of eyebrows won’t be some bold, new fashion choice. Thank you in advance for not staring.”

Of course, my coworkers are already offering all kinds of support for my impending chemotherapy. Office buddy Paul just keeps sending me links to wigs that look like something out of “The Golden Girls.” Not really helpful, but pretty funny.

So, the wig on the left is called "Joey" on the website, when obviously it should be called "Dorothy."

So, the wig on the left is called “Joey” on the website, when obviously it should be called “Dorothy.”

So, yeah, it’s nice to be back. I’m trying to get everything back to normal, and getting back to work is a part of that. Things are not really normal, though. I have a lot of doctor appointments leading up to the chemo. Fighting cancer is a full-time job. I’m having to leave work early a lot and work from home more, which everyone is being very cool about.

So anyway, on another note, it’s been almost a year since Calvin started preschool.

The other day during his drop off, I spied some parents dropping off their daughter for the first time. She was crying, and the parents were having a difficult time leaving her. Eventually, the parents ran out of the school, but they were lingering in the outside play area. I could see that the mother was upset. I felt so bad for them. I’ve been that parent. Calvin cried FOR MONTHS at drop off. I cried in that outside play area, while one of the teachers comforted me, telling me it was totally normal for kids to cry and that Calvin stops crying after a few minutes. It was awful. I remember watching the other parents at drop off and being so jealous, because their kids ditched them at the front door to go play. Now, I’m one of those parents. Calvin runs up the stairs to the school, and he gives me a hug at the front door and runs off to play. It’s awesome. I’m living the dream, you guys.

Speaking of preschool, last year we were so out of touch with preschool expectations that Calvin showed up to school on Valentine’s Day with no Valentines to hand out, because his parents are clueless. This year, we got the preschool newsletter telling us that the kids will be exchanging Valentines, and we should pre-label the cards. Umm, huh? I don’t know how many kids are in Calvin’s class let alone all their names. I’m just going to address them all to Current Resident and be done with it.


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About The Boy

Yeah, so, my son has autism.

Calvin is a really good kid. He’s very sweet and smart. He gives big hugs, and he has a smile that lights up the world. He’s got a great sense of humor, and he loves to laugh. Calvin also happens to be autistic.

I really haven’t written about this on the blog because the diagnosis wasn’t official. We have been taking Calvin to all kinds of appointments with doctors and specialists for more than a year. We have received all kinds of different diagnoses from “there’s nothing wrong” to sensory processing disorder. I didn’t want to write about it, because I didn’t know what to say.

I feel like I need to write about it now, because the diagnosis is official, and I am so proud of my son. I don’t want anyone to think that I wasn’t writing about it because I am ashamed. It’s the exact opposite. I think Calvin is awesome, and I am so very, very proud of him. He is a wizard in a world of muggles. He is a jedi. He’s the coolest. His entire life he has been struggling to be understood, and he has never given up. And while sometimes he gets frustrated, most of the time he is the happiest kid you’ll ever meet. What a good, little guy he is.

Lately, he is really starting to blossom. While there still isn’t a lot of back and forth communication with Calvin, the words are coming. He understands everything you are saying, and he’s really trying to talk and to be social. And now that he has been officially diagnosed with autism, he is finally going to start getting some help. We are going to start getting some help, and we are so excited.

conductingthewind

I’ve heard a lot of different things to explain away Calvin’s development or lack thereof throughout the years. He’s a late talker. Boys are late bloomers. Einstein didn’t talk until he was 4. And so on, and so on. We got his hearing tested in November 2013, and it turned out he needed tubes in his ears. Oh shit, The Boy can’t hear. That’s it! That must be it. That wasn’t it. He did start talking more after he got the tubes, but it was still a lot of babbling. Shortly after he started in preschool last year, we started our quest for speech therapy.

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Wiggin’ out

Yeah, so, I am drain free, which means I will be living the dream and taking my first real shower in two weeks.

You can imagine how happy I am. Now imagine how happy mighty, mighty good man David and The Boy are. I must smell terrible. The only one not happy about it is the dog. He probably thinks I smell amazing, because dogs are gross.

During my two weeks of questionable hygiene, my sister Michelle bought me a really great dry shampoo from Target called Toni & Guy, and it really worked. So, if you are in the market for a dry shampoo, I highly recommend it.

Speaking of hair, I am starting chemotherapy on Friday, March 6. I met with my oncologist on Tuesday, and we went over the plan, and it sounds great. I kid. It sounds terrible. But, I know I can do this. Like I said, I’m cancer free. This is a preventive measure, so I’m walking into chemo ahead of the game.

During our discussion, the doctor recommended I take a chemotherapy class that the hospital offers – a kind of “what to expecting when you’re getting chemo” class.

Doctor: “Friends and family can attend the class as well.” *gestures to David*

David: “Will there be punch and pie?”

Doctor: “I don’t think there is food.”

David: “Then I’m not going.”

I also made sure to ask the really important questions.

Me: “Can I have a beer while I’m doing chemo?”

Doctor: “I’m sorry, but no drinking.”

Me: “Come on. Really? Reeeeally?”

REALLY_SNL

Doctor: “No hard liquor.”

Me: “I don’t drink hard liquor now, because that always ends in tragedy. I don’t want to bring a beer with me into the chemo treatment. I just want to have a beer with dinner sometimes. Can I do that? Just a little bit.”

Doctor: “A little bit.”

Me: “YES!”

Going through chemo is awful. That’s when we all need a nice glass of wine or a tasty beer the most! Cancer is the fuckin’ worst. Also, I have a podcast to record. Priorities.

The doctor did say I may not have a taste for beer (or food, in general) during chemo. During chemo, it’s not unusual for food to taste “like cardboard,” he warned. Oh good. Chemo sounds like the worst diet ever – almost as bad as Atkins.

Oh, also, I investigated cold caps (or cold cats, as David calls it), and it turns out it’s kinda expensive. I guess keeping your hair during chemo is for people with a lot of dough. I blame the Republican congress for this.

I am not loving the idea of losing my hair. While I can be as insecure as the next person about my face, my weight, etc., I have always thought, “But I have great hair, so I’ve got that going for me.”

However, I am a fun person, who can really rock a wig. So, if you have any wig shop recommendations for me, I would love to hear them, because wigs are in mu future. I will try to get a wig that looks pretty close to the look I currently have, but I will also pick up a couple of different styles, because – seriously – fuck it. Why not? If I’m going to do this, let’s really do this.

bluewig

The doctor also told me that when my hair grows back, it may grow back different – meaning my straight hair might grow back curly. Some blondes get chemo and their hair grows back brown – stuff like that. My hair is going to grow back gray anyway. I already know that. But it doesn’t matter. I’m going to make my hair look like how I want it to look anyway, which is straight and red. Maybe it will grow back straight and red, you guys! That would be amazing, and I’ll be wondering why I didn’t try chemo sooner.

rockinout


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Fear factor

Yeah, so, my biggest fear is that something will happen to my little family.

My second biggest fear is that a spider will touch me or even look at me. Eww. No.

So anyway, I love my boys so much, and the idea of anything happening to our happy, little family scares the crap out of me, which is why I agreed to chemo. I want to be around for a long time, and I want my family to stay together. We like being together. It’s gross cute.

Bundled into my biggest fear is that David will leave me. Of course, this is ridiculous. David would never leave me. He’s an amazing man, who for some stupid reason really, really loves me. *whispers* Sucker.

Well, I guess a more accurate description would be to say that I subconsciously fear that David will leave me. I don’t walk around all the time thinking David will leave me, but I have nightmares about it, because my brain is a stupid, insecure asshole. Sometimes, I tell David about the nightmares, and he mocks me for having them and then reassures me that I’m a silly person.

One night, he was quietly reading in bed, and I interrupted him, because he can’t have a peaceful moment to himself, without his busybody wife, kid or dog ruining it.

Me: “What are you reading?”

David: “How to pick up chicks.”

Me: “Oh good.”

David: “Actually, it’s the rules to a board game called Necromancer. It’s the opposite of how to pick up chicks. So, I think you’re good.”

David is the best.

sunset


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Finding Chemo

Yeah, so, I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news.

Let’s start with the good news, because that’s more fun, and we like fun. My recovery is going very well. I have already had one drain removed, and I’m resting a lot with the hopes of getting the final drain removed this week. I feel good. I’m impatient. I want the drain removed, but I know that I’m on the road to recovery. A good patient needs patience. Also, I got my final pathology report, and the cancer has not spread. Great news!

Everybody loves Recovery Island.

Everybody loves Recovery Island.

The bad news is after removing all my breast tissue, the doctors discovered more cancer than was expected. Originally, they thought there was about 1 cm of invasive ductal carcinoma, grade two. Instead they found 1.9 cm of invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 3. They also found 4 (!) cm of ductal carcinoma in situ, grade three. Stupid boob. Doesn’t it know that I hate surprises?

So, this is kinda scary stuff. Considering that I was on tamoxifen, which is supposed to prevent estrogen-positive cancer from occurring, and I still got this estrogen-positive cancer, the doctors think we need an aggressive treatment to prevent re-occurrence. So, the doctors are recommending chemotherapy as a preventive measure.

Sigh.

I was in complete shock when the doctor told me that I needed to do this. I was under the impression that since the lymph nodes were clean I was good to go, just like last time. I guess it doesn’t work that way. I could say no to chemo, and I could be totally fine. I could also be back in another five years with an even more aggressive cancer that maybe could have been prevented if I had said yes to chemo. Of course, I could be back in five years with cancer even though I did chemo. Cancer is an asshole who doesn’t play by the rules. I fuckin’ hate that guy.

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Team Sonia

Yeah, so, I’m doing OK, you guys.

I had the mastectomy on Wednesday afternoon, and preliminary test results show that my lymph nodes are clean! I should get the final test results on Thursday. Assuming the final results say the nodes are clean, too, that means no chemo or radiation for me, so I’ve got that going for me.

The surgery went well. No surprises. The good doctor biopsied three lymph nodes, instead of just one like last time, and all three were clean. I don’t know if you’ve ever had surgery before, but it is anxiety-inducing to say the least. Mighty, mighty good man David came up with a most excellent distraction, creating a Team Sonia album on Facebook.

teamsonia-bigheads

teamsonia-bus

teamsonia-grumpy

teamsonia-han

teamsonia-homer

teamsonia-hunter

teamsonia-david

Friends and family contributed to Team Sonia throughout the day, and David shared the images with me in the hospital. It was a great distraction, and it really cheered me up. Thank you to everyone who participated. Every image was awesome. To see the entire album, click here.

The recovery is going well so far. David is really good about doling out my meds so I’m staying on ahead of the pain. I’ve had a lot of delicious food because my friends organized a meal train, and they are excellent cooks on top of being excellent company when they visit. I sleep a lot. I had a followup doctor appointment on Monday, and just a short walk from the car to the exam room was completely exhausting.

A room with a view.

A room with a view.

Calvin stayed with my mom until Sunday evening, and he’s been very sweet since coming home. He doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he is being gentle with me. He kisses my forehead and likes to get close on the couch and hold my hand.

holdinghands

I’m surrounded by beautiful flowers and gift baskets from friends, family and coworkers. I am truly overwhelmed by all the love and support; all the people who have texted and emailed asking to help and checking in on us. I feel really loved, grateful and lucky. I thank you with everything I got. And, of course, I want to give a special, big, fat thank you to David who is doing all the work around here. It takes a special man to empty your drains and not be totally grossed out by you. Seriously, David deserves a medal. He’s a hero.

 

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