Friday, February 13, 2009


I have been home for about two weeks now, and am luxuriating in sleeping in my own bed, being unhooked from the IVs, and able to have some privacy and freedom of movement. I am feeling better everyday, and grateful that my immune system is bouncing back quickly. All signs indicate that things are improving very steadily.

While recuperation has been basically right on target, so have the side-effects. I have been tired, but feeling better as the days pass, and dealing with the residual impact of such a high dose of chemotherapy, including some stomachaches, headaches and nausea. But there have been a couple of surprises as well. Three days after getting out of the hospital, I began to have a sharp, steady, pain in one of my teeth. It got increasingly worse, resulting in me interrupting my doctor during a super-bowl party (which he was very nice about). I then interrupted our neighbor, an oral surgeon, during his super-bowl party (which he was also very kind about), who scheduled me for the very next morning, where I immediately had an emergency root canal. I wasn’t too surprised by this, as I had some dental issues after my first round of chemo two years ago.

The real surprise came a week later. I was brushing my teeth and looking at my face in the mirror, when I realized that something was…different. I leaned in, and first noticed two new birthmarks, one above my upper lip, and one on my chin. A closer look revealed several more faint freckles - to the right of my lips, next to my eye, and above my nose. An examination of the rest of my body revealed dozens more. Subtle enough that someone who didn’t know, well, the back of their own hands, wouldn’t have noticed, but absolutely new. I found this side-effect pretty remarkable. I asked my doctor about it, and he explained that this change in skin pigmentation is a rare, but possible side-effect of one of the most recently administered chemotherapy drugs.

The doctor also gave my freshly-freckled self other exciting news. If my next set of tests, in two weeks, show that my immune system is continuing to improve, I can return to Washington shortly after!


Emily Goodstein said...

sort of like being born again but in a very progressive reform jew kind of way?? congratulations on this big news!! when my mom was a teacher, she once asked one of her students how she got so many lovely freckles, and the student (who was in 4th grade) respond, "that's where the angels kissed me..." which has since been my favorite explanation of freckles.

Debra said...

Wahooooo!!! So I have been stalking the blog the past couple of days eagerly awaiting this update that everything in recovery-land is going well. I mean, in case you weren't sure that you looked Jewish before, I'm pretty sure having more freckles will totally put you over the edge:P

So glad to hear you're doing better every day. Miss you muchos! xoxo

Aunt Bea said...

re the freckles
Welcome to Salzbergland, the land of all-over freckles. Grandma Rifcha and Grandpa Froyim had them. Don't bother with make-up. It looks fakey and doesn't work. The upside (if you choose to believe it) is that you will look younger when you reach middle age. Just look at your Mom and me! LOL
Lots of love from Aunt P

Emily A said...


I saw the following story today and thought of you. Washington, DC misses you. I miss you.

Two monks were watching a flag fluttering in the wind.

One said, "It's the wind that moves."

The other said, "I disagree, it's the flag that moves."

But a Zen patriarch standing nearby, said, "It's not the wind, nor the flag... it's the mind that moves."


simone said...

whoooooooooooooo.... come back! I checked for an update everyday I was in Israel. Glad I finally got one. Miss you!

Suzanne in Maine said...

I too have been checking for news. Woo hoo! as we say at horse shows. Or, wicked good news, as we say in Maine. Brava! at the opera, etc. etc.

juliacsmith said...

I loved reading this update. Thank goodness for kind dentists, fresh clean home sheets, etc.

I can't wait to see your freckled face in person...whenever you feel ready to return.

naomi said...

yeah fro!! so happy to hear that things are going well! you continue to be a huge inspiration to me (freckles and all...)

Jessica Braunfeld Turnof said...

I've always said that special people have freckles - and to think that you were special even w/o this newest mark (welcome to the freckle club). SOOOOOO glad to hear that things are moving along mostly smoothly! I'll check back soon for more happy news :)

Sarwat said...

so good to hear about your move back to DC. I miss living with you Elissa. Whenever you are ready for a vacation let me know!!! LA might just be the spot for you :)