Monday, December 16, 2013

My Hair, Revisited

Sasha Jane, ticked off velvet accessory stand for my honking rhinestone ring and vintage silver bangles

Until the end of the year, be prepared to be to see some schizo hair lengths; I'll be sharing a few outfit pics that didn't get posted when they were actually worn. As I approach my 2014 shopping sabbatical (witty awesome title still not determined, suggestions welcome), it's a relief to find forgotten photos from before the bone marrow transplant, and be reminded that I do have way too many for one woman to ever wear lots of clothes I love, even though they've been worn only once or less this year. One goal of not adding new clothes to my closet is to thoroughly enjoy the ones I do have and to make the most out of re-mixing them.

The Deets: Bow-tie blouse from Indian tailor (Indian flea market stall); 
Maxi skirt (Ross clearance, $7); Impo booties (old)

Another goal for next year is to thoroughly enjoy my hair - once it grows back into a bob. Super short hair is not for me. In the early months of living on a bone marrow transplant unit, it was a great no-maintenance do, but it became surprisingly expensive, because it needed to be cut so frequently. Even though The Teen wouldn't let me shave my head when she shaved hers, the last time I had it cut in September, I practically scalped myself, hoping I could do an effortless Jamie Lee Curtis style, and be done with hair maintenance forever. Um, no. Instead my thick straw-like locks shot out like an angry hedgehog's quills, and nothing would do but to start growing it again, so the longer weight will pull my hair down and give it the illusion of softness.

One style lesson I learned this year? Short peeps can look long and lean in maxis.

Of course I know it's just hair, and with The Teen only beginning to show the barest signs of hair growth post chemotherapy, I'm not obsessed with it. But man, I miss it.

Have you ever regretted a drastic hairstyle change?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

That’s how the recovery seems to go for many pediatric bone marrow transplant patients, especially adolescents, infants, and toddlers. During the long monotonous days and months of heavy medication, frequent medical visits, and crushing isolation, suddenly recovery will seem a little more tangible and closer, a medication discontinued, lab results more normal, or a pass home granted. An actual date signaling the end of the strange, abnormal existence completely focused on the round-the-clock maintenance and vigilance of that fragile new bone marrow system seems calculable. Normalcy seems tantalizingly within grasp.

10 years ago, when a cure for
Sickle Cell Disease was unimaginable.
We do know this is a miracle.

And then, as happened with our daughter this week, little signs indicate that recovery might not be continuing quite so steadily, albeit at a plodding pace. An alarming weight loss, increased vomiting, and a call out of the blue because a lab result showed the critical oral medication to treat her Graft vs. Host Disease was strangely no longer being absorbed by her body. Suddenly, the second much-needed weekend pass was revoked (she got to come home for the first time since July 29 last weekend), and a new home syringe pump was delivered to administer that medication in IV form. In the world of bone marrow transplant recovery, decreased IV medication is one of the signs that home and normalcy are one step closer. Adding IV medications, scheduling increased clinic visits to monitor the levels of that medication, and losing the chance to go home so you can be close to the bone marrow unit in case of emergency, push the longed for discharge date to the care of your home hospital back to an unknown. Again.

And then the pity parties start. Again. Our teen patient, already sick, bored, frustrated, and lonely, retreats further into sleep. Eating is a depressing effort, with no appetite, but the knowledge that if any more weight loss occurs, an IV for liquid nutrition and more time at the bone marrow clinic will be the next steps backwards.  The difficulty adjusting to the strange bubble world of bone marrow transplant recovery becomes more pronounced, and the frustration of dealing with constant inquiries about symptoms, eating, and just barely minimal activities of daily living much more evident. Being a teenager with a normal high school experience is hard enough; being a teenager left out of your senior year and living in a small space with your mother is the worst thing that ever happened to you.

I haven’t talked much about being the parent of a bone marrow patient, but the loss of control of our own lives is one of the hardest experiences we have, along with watching our children suffer terribly and not being able to do much to relieve that misery. We parents cling together, and when we get a minute to chat, endlessly discuss bodily functions, medication administration, catheter maintenance, and yes, that helpless feeling that everything in our lives right now is absolutely beyond our control. It helps. For me, missing my husband and best friend desperately as we change caregiver shifts like ships in the nights, lacking a job and health insurance for the first time in my life, watching my small retirement savings vanish to keep a roof over our heads, endlessly cleaning our temporary home at the Ronald McDonald House and our “home-home” (bone marrow transplant speak) for an auto-immune suppressed patient, and yes, living with a sick and frustrated teenage daughter, with whom I’d always gotten along beautifully before, have worn me down to the core. There are too many days when I feel like the worst parent in the world, too tired to do more than make sure the central line is maintained, hook up the IV meds timely, and beg my child to eat something, anything, even if it shoots her sugars through the roof.

I wrote in a Facebook status earlier this week that I know we will get through this, stronger and ever grateful, and we will. But right now, in this very moment, while we are taking that dreaded step backwards – again - that longed-for date when normalcy might start again seems like never.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Reason Number 683 to Wear Bling: You Will Look Like a Princess

Not everybody can afford a diamond, much less diamonds plural, which is why rhinestones (does it sound better to say diamond simulants?) are so fabulous and accessible, with the added value of being extremely versatile. Throw on a rhinestone collar with a sweater and jeans for chic casual look guaranteed to get you noticed (in a good way hopefully) at the grocery store, or while having cocktails with the girls. Add one to a simple dress, and go to the office and out for cocktails afterwards. Hmmm, in summary, rhinestones and cocktails go together really well, but I digress, yes?

Heck, even real princesses rock rhinestones.

Via Today News
If I'd been anywhere near Kate on this red carpet, I would have had to stifle the extremely undignified urge to wrestle her to the ground to grab this exquisite collar of faux gems. At best, I would have stalked her mercilessly until I could see the collar in all its fabulosity really super up close (bifocal crowd here) and then asked some incredibly gauche question, like, "OMG. OMG. No, really, OMG. Are those The Crown Jewels?" Well, doh, obvi, these are paste (not really obvi, I thought they were real), and no, we commoners still can't have them because they're already sold out online.

This is where secondhand, vintage and/or preloved jewelry comes to the rescue. I have several vintage multi-chain rhinestone necklaces discovered in flea markets when I was in college, as well as an antique one inherited from my grandmother. But you can also find them online, ranging from $10 to several hundred dollars, depending on the age, designer, and condition of the piece - and the number of rhinestones. Don't rule out vintage-inspired or reproduction pieces either, especially for a well-made piece that suits your unique style.

I could happily spend hours browsing online for antique or reproduction rhinestone necklaces fit for and inspired by a princess, such as this lovely collar, a little less showy than Kate's, but done in a beautiful classic design suitable for both special occasions and everyday wear:

Via eBay (available as of the date of this post)
So, dear readers, are you Team Rhinestone Collars Even in Broad Daylight For Sure, or Over-Sugared Tiara-Wearing Tots Can Stick Rhinestone Collars Where the Sun Don't Shine?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is that a Dog Pin on Your Cat Sweater?

Yep. A vintage mink dog pin. Which makes it totally okay.

Pin via Etsy last year

The cat sweater itself is one of the rare new clothing purchases I made when I was still gainfully employed. Animal graphic sweaters bring me to my knees, and I've never seen a single one, other than those that fall into the Ugly Sweaters category, in our local thrift stores. I scored this Loft cardi for under $20 during a flash sale. It has pink cats all over it. I would've paid more. Because I want critters on my sweaters, dammit.

The Deets: Loft cardi (flash sale); Vintage pants (thrifted); 
Dog pin (Etsy); Booties (old); Assorted bracelets; Earrings I've had since the 80s

And let's talk about these vintage pants for a minute. I paid $7 for them; the thrift store was going out of business, or nobody would be caught dead in these pants. You pick. They are a peculiar paisley-ish, and a hello-kinda-bite-me orange. The first time I wore them on the blog, they were boot cut, and the entire outfit was one of the worst I'd ever posted. Heh, which is why there is no back link. I did ask readers if I should alter them, and most said NO! But man, they were tough to work with, because they mostly said BITE ME. They even spent some time in the donate bag. I skinny'd them instead, and now they play nice with my wardrobe.