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Bridget Zinn

05.18.11

Getting Moxie from Moxa OR What Barrett Does on His Lunch Break

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:46 pm by Bridget Zinn

I wouldn’t do it if the payoff weren’t so big. Having someone hold a cigar shaped incense-like stick, the tip glowing orange with heat, mere inches from my belly is not high on my Fun Times list.

But it’s so worth it.

Moxa might sound a little bit like torture, but it’s actually a super fab form of Chinese medicine that is nothing short of a miracle. The moxa stick is lit and heated until it glows, then it’s applied to acupuncture points. The practitioner (in this case Barrett as he has a better view and steadier hands than I do), amidst billowing smoke and ashes that get tapped off into a fire safe container, holds the stick a few inches above the acupuncture point and makes tiny little circles.

It discourages dampness and invigorates my vital qi. In other words, I feel GREAT after and the liquid retention in my belly seems to shrink up a bit each time we do it–which is pretty much every day.

I only get that sensation of being singed every once in a while when the moxa stick gets just a little too close.

Love to you all,

Bridget

05.10.11

It’s Good to Be Home, Part II

Posted in Portland at 8:42 pm by Bridget Zinn

Our next trip to the ER didn’t involve anyone trying to steal my identity, but it did, unfortunately, involve an extended stay in the oncology ward. Booo!! Our bargaining skills just aren’t at their peak at 3 in the morning. Especially unfair was that this time around, I kept hearing how healthy I looked. People kept saying, “you look way too good to have this kind of blood work.” If I looked so darn good, shouldn’t they really have just sent me back home?

But, no. They kept me and observed me, treated me to some fine antibiotics for a couple of infections I had, and ultimately were unable to solve most of the medical mysteries (involving blood and labs and things) that had brought me there in the first place.
We made the most of my incarceration with our iPod stand, electric tea kettle, and picnics filled out with the help of a nearby Trader Joe’s. I even had one of my favorite softie-soft blankets with me that’s so pretty it always makes me smile (sent to me years ago by Kristin’s mom–Thanks, Kristin’s mom!). I think it even has prayers somehow woven into it. The only thing our hospital survival kit needs now (besides a cool James Bond escape parachute) are some LED flickering votives for ambiance.

Finally, the docs decided that they’d observed me enough and that my mysteries were planning to stay mysterious and they let me go. Five stars to my inpatient oncologist who made sure I got out in time to make it to my haircut! Granted, several days at the hospital had worn me out and I was a bit of a zombie in the chair but my hairdresser is so awesome she doesn’t need any direction. She spent extra time on the scalp massage and gave me a mini relaxation/cranial sacral session on the massage table to help rejuvenate me enough to get home. She is the best!

Then home again and that’s where I’ve been recuperating for the past few weeks. Luckily, just before this happened, the dads each did a screen door project–one fixed a faulty front door screen and the other put in a back screen door. We can now have our doors open and get a nice cross breeze through the house without those scalawag cats of ours escaping to go and join the pirate cat gang in the neighborhood.

Plus, we get to hear all the birds chirping and smell the spring flowers and freshly mowed grass.

My healing couch has a view out both screen doors, and an especially nice view out the back.

My first day home from the hospital almost my entire view out the back screen door was filled with our giant cherry tree.

The picture doesn’t quite capture it, so I took a pic upstairs looking down so you can get a better view of the tree.


As the weeks have gone by, the petals have started to fall. There’s nothing like laying back and watching cherry blossom petals float down–some days all swirly and mad from wind, other days lazily drifting down, some slipping in the crack between the partial screens and the bottoms of our open windows.

I catch glimpses of other flowers too from my couch–just enough to tempt me into getting up and out for a backyard flower tour. It’s our first spring in this house so we never know what’s going to pop up next.

One of our most thrilling discoveries was the large lilac bush across the yard from the cherry tree. I tried capturing the symmetry of the cherry tree on one side and the lilac bush on the other, but couldn’t get it to look right in a photo. Somehow you focus on the space between the two where there isn’t anything special to look at. Which seems like a perfectly reasonable reason to put something spectacular there. Like a tea house or a bamboo gazebo. Or a cabana! (I fell in love with a cabana in a catalog and talked about it endlessly until the catalog mysteriously disappeared).

Barrett did some snipping and gathered us an indoor lilac bouquet so even when the door shuts at night we still get that delicious lilac smell.

Did I mention how good it is to be home? :)

Love to you all,

Bridget

04.07.11

It’s Good To Be Home

Posted in Portland at 4:35 pm by Bridget Zinn

So Saturday I was waiting patiently in line at the ER and when my turn came, I explained how my oncologist had sent me in because my heart was beating fast and erratic like a giant butterfly frantically trying to get out. I guess it was a pretty good story and I looked a bit peaky, so I got greenlit to the top of the pile.
The desk lady told me that I wouldn’t have to wait long. There aren’t many times in life when it’s a good thing for someone to tell you that you look rotten–to get out of a test or maybe a particularly gruesome day of work, but as long as you have to be in the ER, you might as well look like you belong there.
The dreaded ER waiting room would be but a smidge of my day. I wouldn’t even have time to wonder what horrible infectious diseases were sitting next to me.
Almost immediately, before Barrett even made it in from parking the car, my name was called.
“Bridget Zinn.”
I stood up.
So did another lady.
As I was trying to catch the eye of the triage nurse, the other lady beat me to the door.
“Ms. Zinn?” He said to her.
SHE NODDED!
And proceeded to plunk herself down on the on the chair in the tiny triage room. My chair.
Before the door shut, I shouted, “I’m Bridget Zinn!”
The triage nurse paused.
“Really. I’m Bridget Zinn.”
Eventually, they got the imposter up from my chair and back out to the waiting room with the other not-greenlit ER patients.
This lady “claimed” she hadn’t heard the triage nurse correctly.
The truth is that she was willing to steal my identity and get treated for something entirely different than she actually had just to budge up a couple of spots in line.
Sheesh.
Test and test and test and test and one particularly painful test later, I almost wished I’d given her my spot. Especially when my ER doc said that there was a 90% chance that they’d be admitting me to the hospital. Apparently there are all sorts of risks with cancer patients for infections and blood clots and things that could cause the erratic beating butterfly heart problem.
Except that my tests almost all came back in pretty fine shape, including the ultra-painful one. We even discovered that the blood transfusions last Thursday took and I was rich with red blood cells.
So we made outlandish promises that should the least thing come up we’d come right back, plus Barrett gave him that trustworthy caretaker look he’s so good at and finally they let us go.
They didn’t catch him buying me chocolate cake (I only ate a tiny bit, I swear!) almost immediately after getting the instructions to keep me off stimulants for a couple of days INCLUDING chocolate.
It’s good to be home.
Love to you all,
Bridget

03.30.11

Suckage and My New Vampire Lifestyle

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:38 pm by Bridget Zinn

I swear we have done all we can to make the end of March go smoothly. On Friday, I even had the suckage procedure done to deal with the ascites (abdominal fluid that sits on top of your organs) so that I could have a super awesome weekend. No more turtle-on-its-back struggling to get up, no more huffing around like a great huffing thing, and NO MORE LACK OF APPETITE! My dream was to make room for tasty vittles and get some good air-flow coming in for fun adventures.

So the hospital suckage team sucked with their vacuum sealed bottles and got out a full two liters like last time I had this done (two liters! That’s like carrying around a giant coke bottle on top of your belly! among other useful organs) and I have to tell you (skip if easily grossed out) it comes out looking just like beer. Not as dark as stout, more of a dark amber.

Gross.

We geared up for a weekend of awesomeness.

And then…

–a cold came on

–and a fever.

Bugger.

This completely wiped me out. Even with the addition of the usual pain/nausea dance I’ve been dealing with lately, this fatigue seemed out of proportion.

Which, as it turns out, it was. Test results came back yesterday with the news that:

–the abdominal infection I had is lingering (boo!)

–my potassium levels are low (hiss!)

–and, the kicker, my hemoglobin levels are uber low (triple boo hiss!)

But I figured I’m tough, so we started Round 2 of this new chemo regime yesterday anyway. Along with the addition of some bags of potassium and other minerals that could be boosted. It was a looooong day.

Now I just need to get some fresh blood in me ASAP. Yesterday, I couldn’t get in. Today, they only had a slot for one bag of blood. But tomorrow I finally got a spot. I’m scheduled for a full day of fun and relaxation at the blood transfusion center which I’ve been told is quite nice and that they even have TV. I get to sit back and lounge, while they bring on the blood. I’m thinking about bringing my iPod, a little Agatha Christie and maybe even some fun catalogs to pass the time.

A vampire should be so lucky.

Until then, I’m supposed to lay low and keep the hi-jinx to a minimum. If I get out breath (god forbid) or feel any chest pain, I have to go directly to the ER which I imagine is not such a fun place to get blood. That is where the crazy people hang out. It’s worse than the public library. (Librarian pals, you know what I’m talking about!)

At least we got to watch the entirety of Downton Abbey on Netflix over the weekened (thanks for the tip Gabe and Johanna!) and I was able to take advantage of my post suckage/pre-chemo appetite and get in lots of great Indian food.

April 1, I’m ready for you! I hope everyone else is managing to have a fab March. Or even a boring one. :)

Love to you all,

Bridget

03.22.11

Making the Most of March

Posted in Portland at 4:01 pm by Bridget Zinn

In Madison, March is an unbelievably dreary month. Spring is just around the corner, but it might as well be at the opposite end of the calendar. Everything is grey and mucky. Occasionally a clean sweep of snow swoops in, but it turns quickly to mush. I used to get some sort of interesting illness every March. One year I was diagnosed with pneumonia, another mono AND costacondritis.

This is also the month that doom seems to descend on our family. Along with other less heartrending calamities, my mother died in March and I was diagnosed with fourth stage colon cancer in March. This trend seems to be moving outwards in the family and Jeremy even tried to steal my super trauma ER date this year.

We have tried very, very hard to make March a fantabulous month for ourselves. We moved to the Pacific Northwest where March is filled with flowers, you start to get days that are warm and balmy (based on WI standards anyway), and it starts to SMELL like spring. We even got married in March.

This year, we went to every possible social event we were invited to and made an effort to see friends, including a glamorous Ladies Lunch I went to with Suzanne Young to celebrate our friend Cyndi’s step into a new career.

But still. It’s March. There’s Japan. There’s WI politics. Comparatively, we got off lightly with a new hardcore chemo regime for me and a month’s paycut for Barrett whose paycheck and benefits still come from the state of WI.

We just keep trying and we have plenty of help. There were definitely some wonderful things this year in March.

Like a whole box of oranges fresh from a backyard tree of some friends. Our whole kitchen filled up with orangey goodness and there were even enough to share.

We’ve been enjoying the spring flowers.

And some good books.

Yesterday, in honor of the second anniversary of our ring exchange, we visited Cathedral Park.

The sun came out and there was even a fiddler playing just like at our ceremony, though not, of course, one as lovely as Johanna. We had dinner at Typhoon! and ended the day with cake.

Plus, this month we received a generous donation from an anonymous donor for my Kick Cancer fund. Thank you anonymous donor! You rock! And thank you everyone else who has donated who I might not have thanked already. I try to keep up with you, but your awesomeness is sometimes more than I can handle! (Not that I’m complaining, I love you, donors!)

Only one more week of March and there is no doom allowed. We plan on it being FABULOUS!

Love to you all,

Bridget

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