Monday, April 18, 2011

It's been a while.

It's been months since my last post. I guess that's what happens when you're living your life. You get busy. Busy doing the things that you want to do, rather than what you have to do to stay alive. The word live is right inside alive, of course. I'm alive, so now I live. I live unlike I did before.

So, here is the update and details of my recovery. Yep. I'm still recovering and still on medicines, even though we tried to get off of them altogether a few months ago.

Things I can't wait to get back to doing:
- breathing without a tube in my nose: SUCCESS - tube and O2 equipment is out of the house. Finally!
- sleeping in my bed next to my husband: SUCCESS - and success...
- cooking: SUCCESS - loving every meal I make!!
- pushing a grocery cart, not sitting in one: SUCCESS - getting the shopping done every week without a backwards glance at the electric cart!!
- exercising like I used to: WORKING ON IT. Just exercised officially for the first time today. It's what made me want to write.
- mini-triathlon: NOT YET. Maybe in a few years. Before I'm 40?
- riding a bike: NOT YET. I expect to take a short ride or two with my family this summer. Somewhere level and close to home.
- walking to class without feeling winded: UMMM. Never got to that point while I was still in school. (See later answers...)
- focusing on school: SUCCESS - Finished my BS in Political Science last May, then my BS in Mass Comm in December! Woohoo!
- seeing fewer doctors: NOT YET. This will be a while. I still see an Internist, Endocrinologist, Oncologist, and Radiation Oncologist.
- looking for jobs in Manhattan: LOOKED. Realized I need to be here close to my doctors. Also, I want to be able to afford to enjoy life working only one job.
- working on my CV and cover letters: SUCCESS - Easiest job application ever!! I sent in my worked over resume (thanks to my friend Kathleen) and ended up getting an awesome position in my fields! AWESOME!!
- working on my website - SUCCESS - Actually taught a few web design classes last fall at the University of Utah. I still "own" the website:
- having dinner parties - SUCCESS - I had my first post-cancer/Cushings dinner party in late February. It was a lot of fun and we will definitely be having more this summer in the back yard! (Could not had done that without my husband's help - plus, he makes parties fun.)
- cleaning my house - AS SUCCESSFUL AS IT'S GOING TO GET... :) (looked into a house cleaning service recently, not because I can't, but because I really don't like to.)
- helping at my daughter's school - NOT YET: Just reminded my daughter. She asked "why do you want to help at my school?" I said, "because it's one of my goals, now quit asking silly questions!"
- going out with friends - SUCCESS - Not nearly often enough, but I have managed to get out for dinners, movies, coffee, etc. I'm not terribly close to my girlfriends. I never have had good luck with girlfriends. Most of my friends, from a very early age, were boys. I hope to do more with the girlfriends I do have, despite our lack of closeness.
- going on dates with my husband - NOT REALLY. It's all in the planning and that is something we just don't do.
- continuing to create new family traditions - SUCCESS: My favorite new tradition is related just to summer. Sleeping on our back patio, all three of us, on a weekend night after bbq'ing, watching a movie on the big flat screen we bring outside to put on the bar while we sit in camp chairs around our fire pit sipping a cool drink.
- Monday Night Dinners - SUCCESS - But not anymore. We're saving money and trying to eat healthier. Now we only eat what we want (whatever we want) on Sundays. It's healthier and we save money. It's a change in my goal, but I couldn't be happier with it!
- polar bear club - NEXT YEAR FOR SURE!!
- shopping for stylish clothing - SUPER SUCCESS!! Day at Nordstroms. The thing is, I need to go again; and it's actual NEED! Losing weight is the greatest excuse for shopping sprees!
- finding a style (should happen before the previous item) - SUCCESS: I have found that whatever fits and looks good is my style.
- dancing - SUCCESS: Yes. It's usually by myself in the kitchen with Katy Perry on my iPod.
- visiting friends (some have had babies in the last year and I haven't seen them at all!) - SUPER FAILURE. I've seen a few of my friends (lunch visits or randomly at Target during the holidays). I have not put forth the effort I should. My biggest problem when it comes to friends.
- traveling for vacation - SUCCESS: Still California, but visiting without being poked with a needle is a nice vacation.
- fishing - PLANNED: I was supposed to go fly fishing with my dad for my birthday last month but it was just too freezing cold and we were just worried about me physically handling that much.
- camping (I've never been, but would like to go some time) - SORT OF. The combination of the patio experience (previously explained) and another one of our Sunday experiences during the summer of going up the canyon for campfire dinners works for me!
- hiking - NOPE. I need to work on my endurance. Then I'll give it a try.
- snowshoeing!! (I have missed the last two winters and I love to snowshoe - fun and a great workout!) STILL MISSING IT!
- shopping with my tween daughter - SUCCESS: The mall is a very entertaining place to be with your preteen daughter.
- playing Wii with my daughter (I'm horrible mostly, but it's time spent with her) - SUCCESS! Post chemo/radiation recovery last summer I spent some time working the Wii on Super Mario Bros.
- showing my daughter what it means to be a woman - ONLY TIME WILL TELL. I work at this every day. I think some things sink in and other things get lost in translation (or eaten up in some dark black hole in space).
- gardening (flowers and plants - I've given up on vegetables/fruits because Craig loves it so much) - PLANNED: I'll be growing some pumpkins this summer! Hopefully planting out the front beds too!
- home maintenance and decorating - PLANNED: Dining room, bedrooms, patio, painting house (supervising of course), and painting something to go above the fireplace!
- bending over to lace up shoes - CHECK! Wore tennis shoes last Saturday for the first time in a few years.
- seeing my feet when standing - SUPER CHECK! I need another pedicure. It must be close to summer.
- sitting in those little desks at school without feeling like I'm being cut in half - WHO KNOWS? Never got to that point. My last class at the University of Utah was in an auditorium with nice padded seats. I fit in those pretty well!
- eating an apple without slicing it up first, same thing with a carrot - SUCCESS! My braces came off February 16, 2010.
- flossing my teeth in 2 or 3 minutes, rather than 20 or 30 (threading between braces takes a long, long time!) - SUCCESS!
- wearing necklaces - SUCCESS!
- swimming - SUCCESS! Tonight was the first true use of swimming as an exercise. In the last month or so, we've gone swimming as a family and jumped off the diving board too. I raced my 12 year old daughter down and back and won! Of course, when I got back, Craig was there to keep me from drowning while I caught my breath. I totally kicked her butt!
- running - NOPE. I think this will happen in time, but it will be a while.
- finding my abs and butt - BUTT FOUND. Abs are still hiding.
- taking a family picture - SUCCESS. Not necessarily happy about it though. My husband's family took a big family picture last summer. I was still bald and wore a pretty scarf and a big smile.
- evening walks after dinner - SUCCESS. Well, we did it last summer and just started this year.
- caring for friends, family and neighbors who may need me - TOTAL FAILURE. I have to say that I knew it would happen, I just didn't think I would be one of those people who would be doing it. My friend was in the hospital after a bad skiing accident. I was there with my friend, his wife, while he was in surgery. I went to visit once afterward while he was still there. I told him to not be surprised when the visits from people started to deteriorate. It was natural. It happened to me, but I was determined not to be one of those that faded. Months went by before I saw him again. Crappy friend I am.
- planning graduation parties! SUCCESS! My family threw me a graduation party last May in California. My husband is taking me to see U2 in Salt Lake City next month for graduation. It should had been last year, but Bono had emergency back surgery. That's okay with me though. I'll probably enjoy it a lot more this year now that I'm healthier!
- driving my car - SUCCESS! I love gold leader...
- washing my car (inside and out) - SUCCESS! I love gold leader...
- building more websites for people on the side - WELL.... Not really so interested in that anymore. Time I guess.
- go to the zoo - NOT YET. Requires a lot of walking. I don't think I'm quite there yet.
- walk through a museum - NOT YET. I would like to do that though.
- being told I have a sexy body - SUCCESS! My husband tells me all of the time. I actually believe him! I'm looking better and better all the time. I don't look like I used to, but, then again, I'm not who I used to be.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My funeral

I died and nobody told me.

I sat looking at pictures of me from before I got sick. I don't look like me anymore. I think differently too. I've gone through so much in the last few years. I really can't remember what it was like before being sick.

I saw a picture of me helping Halle open gifts at her first birthday party. You know that part of your neck up front you can see that sticks out on each side of the trachea? I used to be able to see that. I tried really hard while standing in front of a mirror to make that happen again. I couldn't even force it. No matter what I did, my neck just remained this pudgy thing with a round head on top.

I had braces and no longer have the gap in my front teeth like I used to.

I graduated from college and have had so many great opportunities laid out before me.

But the reality is: I died and nobody told me. There was no funeral and nobody sent flowers or set up one of those funds at the bank to give to my favorite charity in lieu of the flowers. I didn't see any kind of obituary and as far as I know, I wasn't buried. I just died and then disappeared, very slowly over a long period of time.

I kind of think of it like being in a coma, unable to recognize what's happening to you. Right now, this very minute while I write this with tears blurring my view of the screen, I am remembering back to being in the hospital after the first surgery and seeing myself walking through the halls in a circle, pushing a tank of oxygen and my heart monitor on wheels with my ass hanging out the back of my ugly blue gown. It's been like a dream, one that I'm not convinced I've awakened from yet.

I died. I just know I did. How else can this be happening?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Why do we blame? To make ourselves feel better I guess. It gives us an excuse. It's a way to relieve yourself of guilt.

There isn't anyone to blame for me being sick. I can't point a finger to someone or something else and say "This is all your fault! Why did you do this to me?"


At a recent doctor appointment I expressed my concern that I didn't know when I would feel good enough to work out again. My doctor gently reminded me that I currently have medication induced Cushings and that I would probably not feel good enough for another year. A year?!?!? I don't know if I can hang that long. Hasn't this journey taken long enough already? I guess not.

So, with nobody to blame and no guilt to be felt, I don't know how to feel about this. I'm mad. I know that. I feel somewhat helpless as there isn't a single thing I can do to make this go faster or become easier. It's like a waiting game.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm done with chemotherapy and radiation. I've graduated from college. I'm back to working full time at the University of Utah. I'm still losing my hair and fighting fatigue.

I've commented before about reactions I get from people that see my baldness. Yesterday a woman asked me if I was scared. No, I said. Why should I be? I could be. A lot of people are in my situation. Would being scared change anything? Would it make me better if I was still sick? No. Being scare won't change anything. That's why I'm not scared. Being scared takes time and energy, neither of which I want to waste.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What customer service!

I received a call on my home phone this afternoon. I saw "Lamb's Grill" show up on my television caller ID and thought how odd that was. This is the restaurant we used to go to religiously on Monday nights until I started chemotherapy. We haven't been in months now and it has been missed. We always felt welcome. They saved us a booth in the corner every Monday night, whether we came or not. I would usually meet Craig and Halle there after school. They would be late because they got dressed up and brought a bottle of wine.

It was them on the phone. I recognized the voice of the lady who sat us each week. One of our many servers, Kat, found our phone number and they called. Only to see how I was doing. This was our conversation:

Heather - "Hello."
Lamb's - "Is this Heather Rasmussen?"
Heather - "Yes. This is Heather Rasmussen."
Lamb's - "The Heather Rasmussen that used to bring her daughter Halle (Holly) to Lamb's Grill?"
Heather - "Yes. That's me."
Lamb's - "How are you doing? We've been worried about you."
Heather - "I've been okay, but having a harder time since I started chemotherapy. It's been kind of tough on me."
Lamb's - "We're just glad to know you're still with us. We've all been so worried."

She then went on to explain how she knows this is such an odd call and they were worried about calling the wrong Rasmussen household.

That was it. They were just checking on me. Wow.

I told Craig, so now we're going there for dinner tonight. It is Monday night you know...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Busy being sick.

I've been busy being sick. Sorry.

I've become quite acquainted with the porcelain princess recently. I used to call it that back in the day of horrid hangovers, but now it's just a title bestowed upon the receptacle through which I poor my innards and stare relentlessly at while dripping from the various holes in my face. It's been a journey.

I've gone in three times to the doctor to have an IV, once being admitted to the hospital. I'm better now. Eating anyway. That's always a good sign of improvement.

I am well enough to take two final exams today. Tomorrow I graduate. Next week, more torture in the form of chemotherapy. Always an adventure. That's my life.

So, I've been a little preoccupied lately. Please forgive me. I've been busy being sick.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What will life be like?

I took my midterm on Friday after attending class. I did it. I had studied, so I was prepared. For the test. I was prepared for the test.

Day five (post two) of chemotherapy. I thought I was soooo smart! I really thought I had the nausea under control. I had started taking the Zofran the morning of the first day and as directed after that: twice a day. During class on Friday, I started to feel really bad. I took my exam afterward and did it in 30 minutes. Then I went to wait for the professor to return. His office door was closed, I had knocked without answer. I started shaking. Another professor I had taken classes from previously asked if I was okay, was I getting ready to take an exam and just nervous. I told him I had already taken the exam and wasn't feeling that good. He asked what I needed and helped me out. My stuff was in my professor's office, so I couldn't leave without getting in there. Someone from the main office came and opened the professor's door. He was in there the whole time. All 20 minutes of me just sitting out there dying and waiting for him to return! My heart slumped inside of me.

I went home to be sick. I was nauseated. For four days. I ate and threw up, ate and threw up, ... It was a fun Easter weekend. The first time in my daughter's life I didn't buy her an Easter outfit, put together her basket, hide the eggs, and do something fun with her.

On Monday I went with Craig and Halle to radiation therapy. They wouldn't let me leave because I was dehydrated. Apparently I was so dehydrated that I took in two liters of IV fluid and still didn't have to pee. They let me go home. I started taking the Compazine. It worked. I ate dinner that night. Today, a little breakfast and some lunch. Dinner was tri-tip, pea salad and spaghetti marinara. I didn't eat much, but it did stay!

So, a rough few days. I'm feeling better now. My cap and gown are purchased. The graduation announcements are on their way via UPS. Next week I finish radiation therapy. A few weeks after that, I graduate from college. About a week after that - chemotherapy is done. What on earth will life be like?