If You’re Happy and You Know It, Well, Maybe You Should Just Sit There Quietly

I can’t clap. If I’m happy and I know it, there is not a thing I can do about it. Thank goodness I’m not working with preschoolers at the library right now. I’m scared to even try stomping my feet as an alternative (also just got a lecture from my nurse about protecting my feet and NOT walking around barefoot which I admit I love to do).

I discovered this bizarre clapping side effect when one of my cats was being naughty. You know how you can clap once loudly when they’re scratching something they shouldn’t and they sort of slink off? (Unless they aren’t in the mood).

Well I did that. And it hurt like an SOB. Instead of that nice bounce back that happens when hands come together, it was like I’d smacked my palms against two brick walls.

Is that not just freaking weird? It is not listed on the “side effects” list which, by the way, I got a nice dose of over the past few days. That whole so far, so good, blog was a bit premature. I seemed to sort of get all of the side effects (except “death” which is cheerfully written at the bottom of each page, I kind of like it being put in it’s place there, like, ha, you’re not so great, we rank  you right down there with dry mouth). So I got all of these side effects plus an extra side effect no one has ever heard of. I think I’ll name it “Bridget’s Brick Wall Clapping Syndrome” and see if the name catches if other chemo patients who never had a reason to clap (I know, this saddens me too, it means they aren’t expressing how happy they are and how they know it and/or they don’t have cats, either of which is quite sad) now start in on clapping to test it out and find that they have it to.

I might not actually have a bunch of side effects at all — I might primarily have just one. The one that  makes you susceptible to the flu.

I don’t know which is better really. Flu could be a one time thing, but wouldn’t it be nice if all of these nasty side effects were dying cancer cells giving me one last bit of trouble before they went away?

Luckily, during my emergency, I was able to get help. My doc was nervous about me losing too much fluid with the super high temp and other gross ways that liquid leaves your body that I’d rather not talk about. So they recommended gatorade etc. (yes the toxic colored stuff!). I was sort of trapped here, still can’t see well enough to drive, Barrett was doing some webinar thing, but I posted to a couple of friends on facebook (who I have now recorded into my phone) and every single one answered within the hour. You guys are so awesome! Laini Taylor got to me first and quite possibly saved my life. She also brought books which REALLY saved my life. Thanks Laini!

It does make me think that we need to be a bit more organized and see who’s willing to help and how and when and how to contact them before I try this whole chemo thing again May 8th. I don’t PLAN to get so sick again but it’s nice to know you have back up out there. The lovely April Henry got us a book about how to organize help for sick people (and also got me addicted to Nutter Butters) but I haven’t figured out who to give it to yet.

It’s also nice to have all of the long distance back up that you all are sending my way. From good energy to flowers (Mitchie, your roses are gorgeous!) to cards, fun packages, and Sandy’s fabulous rasberry jelly which might actually cure me and, of course, of tantamount importance right now, money to help pay for this medical stuff.

There are a couple of benefits going on, I know I’ve mentioned Georgia Beaverson’s fund for us before (you should also check out her Bridget Zinn Memorial shoe page — so cool!), and now there are some other people working on fundraising too. I’ll try to get dates and places out in one of my next blog posts. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much awesome-ness.

I’m working now (slowly as I’m feeling better) on finding some complementary medicine practitioners in Portland. I’m hoping to figure out a way to get insurance to cover some of it — let me know if you have any tips on this. I know some people sent out names earlier, but as it was Pre-Vision-Coming-Back, I’m not sure where I’ve stored them.

I feel like I just keep poking and poking at my body and getting blood drawn and getting shots and painful dental x-rays etc. and so on and and so on over the past month and a half and my body is starting to feel beat up. I know some alternative therapies aren’t super gentle and I’m all for that if they work, but I’m looking for some that are gentle too.

It’s like my body is an old beat up dog (like Hound in The Underneath) and the slightest bit of niceness which I normally would take for granted, like Barrett just rubbing a hand over my shoulder, has it responding totally out of proportion. Like hound with his tail wagging big great swoops at a little rub on his nose . When Barrett rubs lotion into my feet at night — watch out! That old hound body of mine is ecstatic. I’m hoping to find some therapies like massage or something so that my body starts to normalize out a little, at least between chemo sessions.

Because my body really isn’t all that old and there is NO reason it should feel like a beat up hound dog.

So any suggestions, tricks or tips on any alt health care in Portland and especially nice gentle ones would be most welcome.

Whew. Definitely time for a nap now.

Have a great day everyone!

Join the Conversation


  1. I continue to send good wishes your way, Bridget. Homemade jam does have a way of reviving a person. Did you ever read Small Steps by Peg Kehret? She had polio as a child, and is convinced that the chocolate milkshake her parents sneaked into the hospital saved her life.

  2. I feel bad. I actually found myself laughing at the “death vs dry mouth” comment. Isnt that awful??? Thinking of you. Hope you finally got my token 🙂 hang in there!

  3. Hi – I found your blog via Shelli and just wanted to send some good vibes your way. We actually just sent our revisions off to our agent, and I’m amazed that you’ve been able to edit and revise in the midst of all this. I get distracted by things like Gossip Girl and shiny new websites, so that’s pretty inspiring.

    Hope that you feel better soon. You’ll be in our thoughts!

  4. Hey Bridget,

    I will see who Nancy Palmer used when she had lung cancer. She is in NW Portland. Here’s hoping your body gets used to the abuse. It can take time!

    Best to you,

  5. Love Bridget, love. I’m with you, and in my heart there is nothing but love.

    What did the pirate say when his wife left him?

    Arrrrg, me hearty!

  6. Dearie,
    Your writing makes me laugh out loud. A mean trick for a beat up hound dog.
    I’ll ask my wonderful yoga teacher about alternatives as well as a friend who is a naturopath. Maybe there’s something newfangled AND gentle (and pro bono?) out there.

  7. Hi Bridget – I have only just ‘met’ you via your blog mentioned today in Anastasia Suen’s Children’s Bix e-newsletter, and so I am sending you my happiest, gentlest and sunniest thoughts to aid in for your recovery. Your writing is truly inspiring and I am going to get off my tuckus and read more of it! Thinking of you, and envisioning you well and smiling.
    J.S. Alleva

  8. Acupuncture, even though it sounds pokey, is a good thing
    to get to counter the queasy stuff…something even the
    oncologists in Santa Monica advocate.

  9. Hi Bridget,

    I am sending awesome thoughts your way (according to your blog, today is your second day of chemo- you can do it)! I am a 39 year old children’s librarian from NH. I was diagnosed last April with stage 3 colorectal cancer (previously eating salads, running 4 miles a day and generally minding my own business).

    I won’t bore you with my tale, you have your own, but hang in there. You are young and strong and can get through this. The chemo doesn’t necessarily get worse. In fact, I think the first was my worst. It can all be tweaked. Keep your weight up! Eat large amounts of doughnuts and Chinese take out. Watch out during chemo, something in my cocktail led to internet shopping which I didn’t remember even after the packages arrived. I have a lot of new shoes to prove it. I’m not kidding.

    Best, Amy

  10. I’ve never been able to whistle. Can you? I’ll tell you what – I’ll clap for you, and you can whistle for me. It’ll be a fair and interesting trade. 😉

    You are in my thoughts. Stay strong. 🙂

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