Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Quest for Tasty Food

Although I didn't want food this morning, I woke up hungry.  I was determined to find something other than crackers to take my meds with.  I found a lone packet of instant oatmeal in the cabinet and decided that it may just do the trick.  It did!  It was actually tasty.  That gave me hope to start eating again today.

Kevin went outside at 8:00 to start mowing, knowing it was going to be miserable again.  By the time he mowed everything, did the weed-eating, and made the yard look civil again, it was nearly noon...and HOT.  He showered and headed to the store with Monica.  I feel bad, but absolutely everything seems to fall on him now.  He's been amazing about it, but I still feel guilt.

My main wish for his shopping trip was fruit.  I thought fruit sounded good, and we had some frozen mixed fruit that I had thawed, and ate a bit of it.  It was very good.  He hooked me up!  I still had a cantaloupe, and he brought home apples, kiwi, grapes and strawberries.  The girls and I just combined all of the above and enjoyed the heck out of it.  It tasted SO good.

The other thing that I ate today was cucumber sandwich.  I had eaten a cucumber (from mom's garden) earlier in the day and it tasted pretty good, so I asked Kevin to bring me some cream cheese and dry Italian dressing mix.  It is supposed to sit for 24 hours, but I made a sandwich as soon as I mixed it up, and it was good, too.

I still don't want foods that I normally like, but it is SO nice to have something other than soup and saltines.  Tomorrow, Kevin is going to grill some chicken for me.  I have to get some protein in, and that sounds bland enough that I can probably eat it.  I was told that my white counts being low would make me short of breath, and I've certainly been short of breath today.

All in all, thanks to Kevin, I've had a good day.  I managed to do laundry, taking 10 minutes to catch my breath each time I came up the stairs, but managing to feel like I've contributed, anyway.  I plan to get a good night's sleep, since tomorrow is "crash" day.  I really don't want to sleep all day, but if that's what it takes to be able to get to work on Monday, that's what I'll do.

I'm thankful she cut my steroids in half.  I think it's contributing to my tired/weak feeling, but it should make my crash less intense, and I'm still getting enough of them to not be nauseous.  This medication balancing act is such a joy.  I've taken more pills in the past three weeks than I've taken in the past three years.  No joke.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Have to be More Careful

The change in dose that my oncologist did for the steroids seems to be a good thing.  I'm not hyped up and jittery for a couple hours after each dose, and for that, my coworkers are likely quite thankful.  Yesterday, I wore out earlier than I liked, and only got six hours in.  Still, not bad for day two of this cycle.  I got plenty of sleep last night, so I felt pretty darn good this morning.  I still had no appetite, so I ate six saltines, took my meds and hit the door.

Work went fine.  I felt much better today, and managed to get nine hours in.  I ate a few more crackers around noon, since I know it's not good to let my stomach be completely empty.  Even with the extra hour, I felt pretty darned good when I left work.  I needed to stop at Walmart for some medication and diet Coke, but I hoped that wouldn't take long.

Monica called me to say that she needed a prescription refilled, too.  I was too close for calling it in to be of any value, so I went in and headed to the pharmacy to tell them about it.  They told me it would be 15 minutes.  No problem.  I grabbed the other things I needed and started to circle back toward the pharmacy. I was halfway back when I realized how light-headed I was.  Uh oh.  This was suddenly turning out to be a very bad idea.

I walked slowly and deliberately back toward the pharmacy, hanging on to the cart.  Thank goodness they have a bench for waiting.  By the time they called me over, I felt a little bit better.  By the time I got checked out and to the car, though, it was back.  I knew I had to get home, so I blasted the a/c for a minute or two and headed this way.

I made it home just fine, got in the house, and fell into bed.  Thank goodness, Kevin was only about five minutes behind me and realized what shape I was in.  He heated up some soup for me, fixed a cold drink and brought it to me.  I ate, which instantly started to make me feel better, and took my meds.  I am exhausted, but no longer shaky or light headed.

Lesson learned.  I am going to HAVE  to force food at work.  I just can't find anything bland enough, other than chicken noodle soup.  And that, my friends, is getting quite old.  I'm thinking maybe I'll try a baked potato tomorrow.  That sounds bland.  Oh, and now I remember the nurse saying I would be short of breath because of a shortage of red blood cells, and to get plenty of protein.  Yeah, right.

I'm just glad to know that I should be hungry again Sunday or Monday.  Mom has some tomatoes with my name on them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Goodbye Again, Appetite

Right on schedule, I want nothing to do with food.  *sigh*  I bugged out of work at 11:30 this morning, two hours earlier than I had planned, but I was feeling crappy.  I knew it was too early for my Neulasta shot, since it has to be 24 hours after chemo, so I stopped at Target.  I was about halfway through and got REALLY light headed.  That's when it hit me that I had ingested nothing other than Gatorade and water all day, and it was noon.

I went to the snack bar to see if there was anything there that I could force down, and they had a yogurt parfait.  I paid $2 for $.50 worth of yogurt, so I forced it down, and then regretted it.  It took care of the shaky feeling, but it sat on my stomach like a rock.

They got me in early for my shot (my initial appointment was for 4:00, but they took me at 1:15,) and I came home.  I haven't much left my bed since.  I did eat a few saltines to take my medicine, and at 6:30 I forced down some soup.

This is my bi-weekly whiny post, I suppose.  I've burned it up awfully early.  Didn't make it past day 2.  LOL

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chemo, Round Two

This time, I remembered to jot down the names of everything they give me in that IV.  I know they switch things out a lot, and I was mad at myself for not taking notes the first time.  I'll share what they are, but first I have to give a shout-out to my girls.

I went by myself this time, armed with computer, books, etc to occupy my time.  I fired up the computer, and within five minutes, Monica was sending a Skype request.  I accepted, and then laughed the remainder of my time there.  She started out by dancing for me.  She turned on music and just went to town, dancing and dancing longer than you can imagine.  The nurse got a big kick out of it, too.

Soon, Natalie joined her and they both danced.  We chatted and made bad jokes and laughed.  Monica even played her guitar and sang for me!  At one point, the nurse called another nurse to come watch.  They both laughed with us.  Later, she told me that she's been doing this for 23 years, and has never been serenaded before.  It really made the time fly by!

Now, back to all the IV bag swapping!  Here is the stuff that I currently get, every other Wednesday.  Bags 3, 5, and 7 are the same bag, they just switch to it between other stuff.  All of it goes through my port access, but the Adriamycin has to be done via syringe (slowly) and watched.  It's some bad-ass stuff.  Fun fact:  Makes me pee red, too.  TMI?  Sorry.  Too late.  Here goes:

Bag 1
Dexamethasone - Steroid
Famotidine -Nausea
Palonosetron - Nausea

Bag 2
Emend - Nausea

Bag 3

Bag 4
Adriamycin via syringe (2) - Chemo

Bag 5

Bag 6
Cytoxan - Chemo

Bag 7

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Visit to the Doctor

I had a visit with my oncologist today.  I've never been so excited for a doctor's appointment in my life.  That's kinda sad, but I couldn't wait to talk to her.  She was impressed by my overall lack of side effects (nausea, etc) and I was happy to see that I'd lost 8 lbs in the past two weeks.  Another benefit!  She was also more than ready to help find a solution to the headaches.

She believes that the problem is a combination of lack of sleep and the steroids.  (Mom was half right!)  I asked if it could truly be the steroids, since I haven't taken one in 10 days.  She assured me that it could be.  What's weird, is that I didn't have the headache when I was taking them.  It came later.  That's why she thinks it's in combination with a cumulative lack of sleep.

Her solution was to cut my steroids in half for this round, and she prescribed Ambien.  I get steroids in my IV before chemo, and then take the pills for the following three days.  Instead of two tablets twice a day, I'll be taking one tablet twice a day.  I really, REALLY need this to work, so I've decided that it's going to.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.  I will be at the plastic surgeon's office for a tissue expander fill at 9:00 in the morning, and then back to this side of the state line for my infusion at 11:00.  Because they drew blood while I was there today (my whites are up, by the way,) it will speed things up for tomorrow.  No waiting for the lab to get the results sent upstairs.

On Thursday, I hope to get a full 8 hours in, and then I have my Neulasta shot at 4 pm.  Chemo weeks are SO busy, but it should make it go by quickly.  Also, after tomorrow, I can say that I'm halfway done with the A/C portion of my chemo.  That's 1/4 of the way done with chemo!  Positive thoughts.  Positive thoughts.  Positive thoughts.  Doritos.  Hey!  How'd THAT get in there?  Oh well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This is Getting Ridiculous

I've officially had a headache for nine days in a row.  I don't have it all day, but it lingers around for most of the day.  I'm keeping a "chemo diary" of sorts, so I can track trends and watch for side effects.  That's how I noticed that I have had a headache since June 17th.  That's the first time it was noted in those notes.  I'm a little slow at connecting dots sometimes, so it wasn't until the past 5 days that I've really been trying to figure out what is triggering the dang things.

I thought I may have cut caffeine too quickly, so I added some back.  It's not caffeine.  I thought it might be from one of my medications, but I haven't taken any medications in over a week.  It's not medication.  I thought that it may have something to do with lack of sleep, but I've been taking a sleep aid two out of three days, and am now getting plenty of sleep on those nights.  It's not lack of sleep.

I started noticing, over the past five days or so that I don't usually wake up with it.  Maybe I have NEVER had it first thing in the morning, but I'm slow to connect the dots (or sometimes even recognize the dots,) remember?

So I've been pouring over my short-hand type notes, and trying to figure it out.  I noticed that I got it not long after eating a square of lasagna yesterday.  Kevin and I discussed that it could be cheese or some component in that dish, so I decided to note what I have recently eaten when this stupid headache shows up.

This morning I had no headache.  I always feel so good as I head out to work!  Plenty of energy and no headache.  When I got there, I put in a couple of hours and decided I was hungry.  I ate some cantaloupe that I had cut up and brought along, as well as a trail mix granola bar.  Not even ten minutes had passed before my head started to ache.

The headache was still there at lunch time, so I thought, "In for a penny, in for a pound!" and ate my leftovers.  By the time I hit the eight hour mark, I couldn't take any more and I headed home.  I've been in bed since I got here, wishing my head would just STOP already.

My final observation is that my head didn't hurt while I had all the other side effects.  Remember what I ate during that time?  Nothing, unless I forced down chicken noodle soup or mac-n-cheese.  Bland foods.  I'm now wondering if it will stop hurting if I switch back to only bland things.  That will be the next thing I try, if left to my own devices.

I hope that I won't be, though.  I have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow morning.  I'm going to talk this out with her and see if she has any ideas.  A week or so ago, I joked, "Well, at least I only have to deal with this for 16 weeks."  It's not funny anymore.  I can't do this for (now) 14 more weeks.  Most days, I would rate the pain at a three or four on the 1-10 pain scale.  Today's was easily an eight or nine.

Nope.  I can't do this.  Well, let me correct that statement.  If I had a choice, I would say that about breast cancer.  "I can't do this."  However, I can do this, and I am doing it.  If I find no relief, I guess I'll have no more say about the headache than I do about cancer.  However, as amazing as my health care providers have done in preventing or minimizing side effects, I'm sure they'll have something I can try.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


That is a dramatic title, isn't it?  LOL  That's me.  I'm all about the drama.

Kevin and I left the house shortly after five yesterday morning.  I do my best in the morning, and lose steam in the afternoon, so we headed out before the sun came up.  IHOP was our breakfast choice, and then we did some shopping.  I'm at a point in my chemo cycle that I really shouldn't be out around the germs that come with John Q. Public, but I was careful not to touch anything, and it was so early that there were no crowds.

By nine, I was starting to get tired.  I didn't even want to stay at WalMart long enough to get groceries.  We had grabbed the other things we needed, and I just wanted to be home.  I knew Kevin wanted to eat Chinese before the day was over, so I suggested that he take the girls for dinner and they do the grocery shopping.  A plan was formed.

I took a nap while the girls cleaned the house.  They've been slacking on chores lately, so the whole job was theirs.  I must say that they did a pretty darn good job.  I was happy with what I saw when I woke up.  They left for their adventure, and I went to visit my aunt and cousin for a while.  I got home before them and ate some dinner.

Later in the evening, Natalie sat down on the love seat and sneezed.  I asked if she was sick.  "I don't think so." was her answer, but her voice sounded very nasal.  And then she sneezed again.  By then it was after 8:30, so I just went to bed.  This morning I sanitized the remote controls, light switch plates, and anything else that I thought she may have touched.

A little bit ago she came upstairs.  Yup, she's sick.  I can't chance getting sick or it will postpone my chemo that is scheduled for Wednesday.  Postponing chemotherapy gives the cancer cells a chance to recover and start growing and multiplying again.  I do NOT want to postpone it.  Therefore, I am in my room for the day.  This is a germ-free zone.  I have a TV, my laptop, books and magazines, and my water bottle.  I think I'm set.

Friday, June 22, 2012

So Much for 40 Hours

This is the week I was going to work 40 hours.  All I had to do today was seven hours and 45 minutes.  No biggie.  I've felt fine most of this week, and I got in early, so it should have been smooth sailing.  Should have been.

About an hour in, my nose just started gushing blood with no warning.  Well, what an interesting development.  And I was glad I had a spare shirt in my car.  It took over ten minutes to get it to stop, and the whole time I was thinking, "I think this is on the list."   There is a list of side effects that, if they  happen, I am to call any time, day or night.  When I finally got it stopped, I checked the list.

Yup.  It's on the list.  I didn't call right away, though.  I knew the office would be open in less than an hour, and it had stopped bleeding, so I waited until the office opened at eight and called.  I had to leave a message, but I got a call back in under five minutes.  The told me to come in for a blood draw.  I may need a platelet transfusion.  Shit.

They flushed my port, drew the blood, and left the port accessed, just in case they needed to do something, and then the wait started.  The nurse, whom I love, told me they'd put a "stat request" on the blood work with the lab.  I had electronics to entertain me, so I was fine.  After 30 minutes, I heard her ripping into someone in the lab.  It was funny.  She is grandmotherly and sweet and it was funny to hear that side of her.,

After 45 minutes, the results came back and she said all was OK.  I went back to work, knowing I could still get that 40 hours I was seeking.  I worked about an hour and a half and started feeling kinda crummy.  My headache was a bit worse, and then my face felt hot.  I checked my temp and it was 99, so I decided that it wasn't in the cards to get 40 hours this week.  I left at the 38 hour mark.

Now I'm home, in the recliner again, and just tired.  I hope I feel better for the weekend, since this process starts all over again on Wednesday.  I am relieved to know that my blood counts are in an acceptable range. That will make me feel better if any other weirdness pops up this weekend.

(Just so there is no confusion, nobody but me is pushing for 40 hours.  My employer is being amazing about letting me work whatever I can, and Kevin can't believe I'm getting in the number of hours that I am.  I just want to do 40 on the off week, since I'll always be short on the chemo weeks.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Headache and the Sleeplessness

The headache persists, but I conquered the other monster last night.  I took an OTC sleep aid and went to my bed at 7:00.  I got as comfortable as possible (pillows under my knees, shoulders supported, etc) and listened to some guided imagery type meditation tracks that had been suggested to me by some other wonderful ladies going through this breast cancer maze with me.  You may want to check them out.  There are tracks for almost any condition/need, from allergies to weight loss.

I've never been "into" meditation, done yoga, etc, but I am willing to try anything to get rid of this headache, and to achieve a good night's sleep.  I listened to the headache track, which did seem to help.  If nothing else, it helps you relax.  All I know is this:  The combination of what I did last night caused me to conk out before 7:30 and sleep until 3!  WooHoo!

I'm not taking anything for the headache today.  It's not helping, other than taking the edge off, so I'm going to tough through it for a day or so and see what happens.  I plan to out-stubborn the dang thing.  I plan to concentrate on posture and breathing today, and avoid Tylenol unless it just gets so bad that I can't stand it.  I've conquered the food beast, the sleeping beast, and have only one beast left to tame.  That means I can throw all of my energy at slaying that one beast.

Wish me luck.  I'm going in!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Not much of a post.  I still have a headache today, but not nearly as bad as yesterday.  Also, there were two different 1-hour segments in which I'm certain it was gone.  I don't know if my friend Susie's chocolate and diet Coke cure worked, but it was fun to try.

This afternoon, I had a craving for chips, so I hit the vending machine.  Not only did I buy a bag of Sun Chips, but I ate them, too!  And they were good!  I thought myself lucky to have enjoyed something after craving it, and then I headed home.  Kevin fixed my a/c last night, so the ride home was much more comfortable, and I noticed that I was kinda hungry.  Hungry for anything.

I came home and had leftovers from last night, and it was good!  Sweet merciful crap!  I think I like food again.   I hope this wasn't a one-day deal.  I'm full for the first time in a week.  It would be nice to know that the appetite thing is something that I only have to deal with for one week out of the two-week chemo cycle.  We'll see.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Search of 40 Hours

The plan is to get 40 hours in at work on my non-chemo weeks.  I had it worked out in my head.  This should be the week that I can do it.  No appointments, no steroids, and no shots.  Why won't my body play along nicely?  LOL

I woke this morning with the alarm, which is a first in a week.  It means I got more sleep than I had been getting lately.  I woke when Monica got home from work, and one other time, but was able to go back to sleep after a while.  This should have made me feel good this morning, but I could tell that something wasn't quite right.  I showered and started getting ready, since my morning shower often fixes things that aren't quite right.

I took my temperature, since I'm supposed to call if it reaches 100.5.  99.7 was the first reading, 99.9 was the second (when I got to work,) and I had a major headache.  I do NOT get headaches, so it was consuming all of my concentration, so I took a couple of Advil.  It knocked the temp down to a normal person's normal (I usually run low, but whatever) and took the edge off the headache.

I got my eight hours in today, but it wasn't a joy ride.  I still claim to be quite blessed by not being nauseous so far.  Most food still doesn't sound good, and when something DOES taste good, I take advantage and eat before it loses it's appeal.  Dinner was great today until I was about 3/4 of the way through, and suddenly it was gross.  LOL  Oh well.  I'll keep buying chicken noodle soup and crackers and be thankful that I can hold it down.  So many people cannot do that while doing chemo. 

I plan to turn in early tonight and wake up tomorrow without this pesky headache.  I've alternated Advil and Tylenol all day and choose not to do this again tomorrow.  I choose not to have a headache.  I choose to feel good tomorrow.  I certainly have a new appreciation for anyone who works all day with a headache.  I have friends who get them frequently, and I cannot imagine.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The End of the Weekend

This is the time of year in which card companies get a lot of money from my family.  My parent's anniversary is June 14.  My dad's birthday is June 16.  My own anniversary (Happy 17th, Kevin!) is June 17th, and Father's Day is always right in there somewhere.  Wow.  I think Dad wins out over everyone, netting three of those special days.  LOL

I didn't post yesterday.  I'd been warned about the "crash" and that it would probably be Saturday.  Yup.  The next time I'm hard up for something to post about, I'll share.  Plus, I get to experience it 7 more times.  Yippee!  I still claim to be "lucky" when it comes to side effects.  I'm just not ready to relive yesterday yet.

Today, I received a visit from three lovely friends who came with arms full of food.  I have been SO blessed by people feeding my family.  When I feel like crap, I can just grab something to quickly toss in the oven without having to feel like my kids are being slighted by my lack of enthusiasm in the food department.

After that, my dad had to visit ME on father's day.  LOL  I was worn out (way better than yesterday, but still sluggish) and it was mid 90s outside.  As I was sending Mom a message to please let Dad know I'd stop by tomorrow, they called to ask if they could drop by!  I was thrilled.  I hadn't seen them since they got home from vacation four days ago.

Now, I'm melted into the recliner (big shock, I know) and thinking it's going to be an early night for me.  The project that I'd wanted to work on at home didn't work out, and I'd like to get in as early as possible tomorrow and clear that up.  If I'm awake super-early, I'll go on in.   I'll knock that project out in a couple of hours, and then work on regular work.

My goal this week is 40 hours.  If I can maintain 40 on the non-chemo weeks, I'll be pleased.  I'm certain I can do it, barring any new or worsening side effects.  And we're not going to have any of THOSE, now ARE we???  Nope.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad

Let's shove that whiny post down a bit with something more upbeat, shall we?

Happy birthday to my Dad!  The superman in my life who has always been able to do anything, anywhere.  He can fix anything, with nothing.  He can teach you more than you can fathom, because he never stops learning.  He is SO much better than YOUR dad.

I'm just sayin'.

I love you, Dad.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Whiny Post

Sorry to all those who have said how amazing I'm doing, but this post is whiny, so maybe skip it?  I like the idea of you guys thinking I'm such a butt kicker and all, but today nearly won this battle.

I woke up at 1:45, tried to go back to sleep until 2:30 and gave up.  Got up and ready, took meds, talked to Kevin, felt the 'roids kick in, and headed to work.  The morning went great, as always, because of the steroids, but they were taken earlier, so they also wore off earlier.  I should have left at noon, but I was sure I could get more time in.

It turns out good (in one way) that I did, since something came up at 1:00 that needs attention before Monday.  I volunteered to do it from home, since it can be done time anytime before Sunday  morning (on my time = doable for me) and I left at 1:30.  It was the first time that, all the way home, I regretted how long I'd stayed.  Or how far I lived from the lab.  Either one.  Both.

Now I'm back in the recliner.  I likely won't move until morning.  Two dear work friends bought Funhouse Pizza for me to bring home, so I have dinner on the table for my family like a good mom.  :)  If I wasn't a lump in the corner, someone might buy that line.  Anyway, so many coworkers have sent meals and food home and it has helped tremendously.

Tonight I take my last does of steroids, get my hair cut as soon as they open (before the medicine is out of my body) and get home.  I hear I'll likely sleep all day.  We'll see.  After three nights of not sleeping, I'll take a full day of it.  Also, I've been advised to ask my oncologist for a mild sleep aid for the next round, and I won't have to go through these three sleepless nights.

And this concludes the pissing and moaning.  Over and Out.

Edited later to add:  Make that FOUR sleepless nights.  *sigh*

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Eight and a Half Hours

I didn't sleep well again last night, but I fell asleep (passed out hard, actually) quite easily the first time, and again after getting up 3 hours later for a restroom trip.  Drinking a lot of water must be done early in the day. Lesson learned.  I remedied that today.  :)

When I woke the second time, it was about 2:30, and upon returning to my chair (yes, I still cannot comfortably sleep in my own bed..BOO) I realized I wasn't going to get back to sleep.  Still, I forced myself to try for 45 minutes or so, and gave up and jumped online to waste some time until it was a normal time to wake up.

At 4, Kevin got up and showered, and then I showered and got ready for work.  It wasn't long before the steroids kicked in and and I realized, "You should be at work!  Use the hours you feel good wisely!"  I went in super early and accomplished a lot.  I wanted to make it until 2:45, but got caught up in a project, so I was there until 3:15.

The best part of the day was when they brought pizza in for a meeting in the conference room, and all of customer service could smell it.  They were all talking about how great it smelled.  I could smell it, but meh, whatever.  Food hasn't smelled good since Tuesday.  About 40 minutes later, I realized, "Hey!  That smells fantastic!"  I was able to scam a piece (since the folks in the conference room were done) and it tasted as good as it smelled.

I felt good through the whole day, until I got about 5 miles from home.  I suddenly wondered if I'd make it home before falling asleep.  LOL  I haven't left the chair since.  Still, though, I worked a full day, and that was my goal.

I win!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm Still Alive

I had trouble going to sleep, which I was warned about, and three 3 hours later I was awakened by 65 lbs of dog, wanting out because the neighborhood dogs were going nuts.  I did not kill him, but it was tempting.  It took forever to get back to sleep, so I think I got five hours of so, total.  The last of that time was AFTER Kevin woke me up and told me it was time to get up.

Yup, I was late.  Only ten minutes, so it wasn't too bad.  I walked around with a foggy, half-tired feeling, but wasn't sick.  I also wasn't the least bit hungry.  I ate a few crackers to take my medication with, and had a handful of animal crackers around noon.  I still wasn't sick, but I was NOT hungry.  This caused some concern from coworkers, but I won't blow away in the wind anytime soon.  LOL

I left earlier than intended, because I simply ran out of steam.  I had to stop by the hospital for my Neulasta shot.  I'll always get one on the day after chemo.  It helps boost my white blood cell count back up.  It can also cause bone pain, but I'm taking Claritin, which some people say helps, and I can always take Tylenol or Advil.  We'll see if anything is needed.

Tonight, I figured I should really make myself eat something of more substance.   I still wasn't hungry, but I made a can of chicken noodle soup and it tasted good.  Nothing strong sounds good.  This is so not-me.  I even smelled the fried stuff at the deli at WalMart and it didn't smell good.  I can ALWAYS go for some potato wedges.  :)

Anyway, my butt refuses to leave this chair, but I am not feeling sick at all.  I got some mild heartburn a couple of times earlier in the day, but a couple of Tums fixed me right up.  I hope to get up on time tomorrow, and work a decent amount.  Here's hoping!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chemo Treatment Number One


  • This is a freaking LONG post.  A lot of people wanted details, and boy oh boy did I give details.  You won't hurt my feelings if you bail early.
  • There is a TINY amount of blood showing in my port access tube in one shot.  TINY.  However, you blood wussies have been warned.
  • There is a shot of a HUGE syringe full of one of my chemo meds that just happens to be red.  I promise you, I would NOT spring a picture of that much blood on you, after warning you about the tiny bit in the other shot.
  • My "cleavage" shows, but it's mostly shirt and post-mastectomy sports bra, so don't get your hopes up, pervs.  Takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it?
  • These images will not show up on FB.  Not because I don't want to show them there, but because I don't want to type captions.  I'll link to this post there, though.

Today was the day.  I woke up and decided I wasn't going to go through with it, but Kevin made me get up and shower, so we went.  Once again, I was having a major panic attack this morning, and I'm pretty sure Kevin was having a minor one at the same time.  I had forgotten to pack a "chemo bag," so I worked on that this morning.  It was good to have something to occupy my time until we left at 8:30.

At 9, I was to put the numbing cream on my port and cover it with a square of plastic wrap, so I did that in the truck.  LOL  From now on, I'm driving myself to and from treatment, so I may have to rethink that plan, huh?  We got there, and I made 17 trips to the bathroom.  First of all, I'm supposed to push water.  A LOT of water.  I hate water, but I do what doctors tell me to do.  The nerves probably didn't help that situation much, either.

As with all nerves brought on by a new medical experience, I was perfectly fine as soon as the doctor walked in.  She asked questions, made sure to find out if we had any (we had a few, and she answered them to our satisfaction.)  Everything looked good, so she announced that I'd be staying for chemo.  Good.  Another wait may have pushed me over the edge.

I think part of it is the fact that I don't get sick.  I don't take pills.  I don't go to hospitals.  Heck, I don't even get headaches (until lately.)  I've gone from that to this horrible disease that requires horrible treatment which causes horrible side effects.  I guess I don't do anything halfway.  This is my new daily life:

No.  I do NOT take all of those every day.  However, I must travel with most of them.  When I walk into work, my bag sounds like I'm hauling in maracas!  (Mental note: Suggest mariachi Mondays at work tomorrow.)  Anyway, although most of the above are  "as needed," I sometimes need them.  So far, I haven't needed prescription pain medication more than 1-2 times a week at most.  I just don't know what my side effects will deem necessary.

OK, enough of the downer!  My first chemo day was fine.  Parts were actually fun and funny, thanks to an amazing husband making inappropriate jokes and an amazing nurse who explained everything so well that it kept me at ease.  Thanks to the numbing cream, I didn't even know when she accessed my port.  These things were on the cabinet, waiting for me:

The two small vials are for blood draws to check my levels and make sure I'm OK for chemo.  Because they had to wait for the lab to get back to them with the results, Marie (the nurse) asked if we'd like to go downstairs and get something to eat.  That sounded like an amazing plan, except that I had the tubes hanging from my port, waiting for chemo.  She said, "Just drop that down your shirt and go on down."  You can't tell me that, and not expect me to have fun with it:

If it wasn't funny enough that I stuffed it in my bra in my cleavage, we got a real good laugh of the fact that I only have HALF of what you could call cleavage.  The other side was PURCHASED by me, so I guess it's mine, as the implant will be.  So yeah, we'll say cleavage.  LOL  We went on our adventure downstairs to the hospital cafe, and had a really great lunch for under $10 total for the two of us!  (Tight Wad.  Party of two.)

When we got back, it was time to get going.  She hung a bag of (I think) saline, and a small bag of non chemo drugs.  I don't remember what all of them were for, but at least one was for nausea and one was a steroid.  Here is my little starter pack:

At this point, the meds were almost gone.  After each infusion is complete, more of the fluid is injected to "flush" the port.  That's why the large bag.  I didn't even use half of it by the time I left, though.  Then, it was time to get started on the poison chemo.  The Adriamycin is given with two large syringes so they can keep a super close eye on it.  They alternate a few CCs of it and a bit of saline.  I told her I was worried her hand would cramp.  LOL  I'm showing it below, but the drug is red.  That is NOT blood!

When that was done and the port was flushed, it was time for the Cytoxan.  It can hang on the IV pole, so Marie got to rest her hands.  Actually, she was probably in another room doing the same thing for someone else.  Poor thing.  Here I am while finishing up.  Yes, the room was small:

I was playing online.  If you know me well, and have been to my house or followed any images of me, you may be having a nagging feeling that this looks VERY familiar to you.  I can explain that.  I had Natalie take a pictures of me while doing this blog post:

Take away the blanket (we turned our ac off last night) and the IV pole, and I was at home!  Oh, the blanket!  That is ONE thing I forgot to take, which is the only reason I regret not packing my chemo bag earlier in the week.  One of my many distant friends who have sent me amazing packages (seriously, you guys BLOW me away...and kinda make me cry like a girl a little bit...I gotta work on that,) sent the following that she made for me, just for chemo treatments!

She explained her design in her very touching note.  "Zebra print, because you're so "wild & crazy"; pink hearts, because we love you."  It is DEFINITELY ready for my next appointment.  The blankets they have there sucked.  May as well give me a sheet.

Finally, if you made it this long without falling asleep or passing out (that last part was for the wussies,) I will give out a parting laugh.  As we exited the office after my visit was complete, we saw this in the hallway.  I think you can read it if you click on it:

Kevin said, very simply, "Hmmm.  I sure hope those boxes are empty."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ready or Not

I only made it until 3:00 again today.  I get SO frustrated when I can't make it until 5:00.  By the same token, if I'd quit pushing it and leave around noon or 1:00, I could maybe come home, rest a bit, and then get some more work done from here.  As it is, I push as hard and as far as I can push and still safely drive the hour it takes me to get home, and by the time I get here, I can't move from the chair.

I did do dishes after an hour of rest, though.  There weren't all that many, but Kevin's been doing them almost exclusively, and I couldn't stand the thought of him coming home and seeing them dirty.  Too bad my kitchen is too small for a dishwasher.  Oh well, it's a 10 minute task to wash a sink full of dishes.  No biggie.  If one of the girls had been here, guess what SHE would have been doing.  LOL

Tomorrow is the day I have my first chemo treatment, if everything checks out with the oncologist.  I have an appointment with her at 9:30, and if she's happy with what she finds, I go straight downstairs for the first treatment.  They'll go half-speed the first time, watching closely for any bad reactions, so we'll be there for HOURS.

Kevin is going with me for the first treatment, just in case any of the aforementioned reactions happen, and after that I can go alone.  If I feel like I want company for future treatments, Natalie can go with me, or Mom has offered if needed.  I'm pretty good at entertaining myself with my trusty laptop, though, so we'll see.  I'll just be so glad to get this first one out of the way.  My PDAS kicks in full-blast when it's something I haven't done before.

I know what will happen and what to expect.  I've researched, talked to others who have been through it, and researched some more.  I haven't done it yet, though.  After this time, I'll know what my new normal consists of.  The unknown will be known, and we'll move on.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday 'N Stuff

Yesterday sucked pretty bad.  I hurt all day, and even had to break out the hard-core meds.  (I haven't taken stronger than Tylenol or Advil for over a week.)  It was depressing to feel like I was going backwards as far as healing.  I don't know why it happened or if I did something to cause it or if it was a reminder that I'm not 100%, but it sucked.

My buddy Susie sent an amazing fleece blanket to me that she tied, to take to treatments.  I got it at work yesterday.  I really needed a good surprise, so her timing was impeccable.  Made me get teary and girly at work, but I blamed the meds.  :)  On Kevin's way home, he picked up Kameron.

Talk about the fountain of youth!  Even sitting here feeling crappy was easier, just watching and chatting with her.  She's so animated and funny.  The girls took her up to the fair for a bit to scope things out for today.  We'll go up and let her play some games this morning, come home for a nap, and then get a wrist band for her to ride for a few hours tonight.  (She's already informed me which horse she'll ride on the carousel.  Now THAT is planning ahead.)

I slept in the recliner last night, and I think it helped.  I'll know for sure after a hot shower and some coffee.  That's my usual morning medication, and it's usually enough.  Here's hopin'!  I am in desperate need of a real good weekend, and I'll do everything in my power to make it so.  Who could be down and discouraged with the town fair going on???  Not me!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Work, Dinner, and the Fair

I'm going to get a full week in this week.  That's good, since I don't know what next week will bring.  I spent four hours last night finishing up some testing that I was doing at home.  It's nice to be able to relax and get comfortable and still be able to work.

So I finished last night, and spent 45 minutes this morning composing an email with the results.  Not five minutes later, I got an email that a different round of testing was ready to start.  LOL  Well, that was some interesting timing.  It did free me up to come home midday and work from home some more.  I was a little bit sore and a lot tired.

Mom made my night, though, by bringing dinner over.  So amazing to just eat some wonderful stuff without the prep.  Coworkers have been really pitching in, too.  Now that I'm back at work, it's saved them the long drive out here, and they've been bringing stuff there and I'm bringing it home.

Our little town fair started tonight, so the girls are up there right now.  They're spoiled rotten, so their grandpa paid for all-you-can-ride wrist bands.  Kevin will pick Kami up tomorrow and we'll take her up there on Saturday.  Maybe tomorrow night AND Saturday.  Since it's only 2 blocks up the road, it's convenient for us.

We've decided to have a low-key weekend, just chilling out.  In the past, we've had a party on fair weekend, but there was no way I could entertain people this year.  I'm a bit emotionally unstable, and I don't know how I'll feel physically from day to day, either.  I just didn't want to chance having company.

It's my last weekend of "normal" for quite some time.  Chemo starts Tuesday.  Blech.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Update

That title is a lie.  This is NO update.  I'm too tired.  Been working from home some, because my employer is allowing it.  It helps when I can't get through the whole day.  Anywho, I was stuck watching a slow computer for HOURS tonight, and now I'm going to bed.

I'll update tomorrow.  I think.  I know I need to, but I'm so tired.  And I've decided that I don't want to have cancer.  It's just too much trouble.  I'll have a conniption fit instead, OK?  Yes.  That's the plan.  I should have made this decision WEEKS ago!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Eight Stinkin' Hours

It was only eight stinkin' hours.  It's not like I ran a marathon.  I worked a normal, 8-hour shift.  It's not a big deal to those that do it every day, but it's my first in 7 weeks.  And I felt good.  I didn't push and worry and think I'd never make it.  I did fine.

At one point, I looked at coworker Michelle and said, "I feel really good today.  I feel like a wise-ass again!"  She shook her head, smiled, and said, "You sound like one, too."

It was good to feel good.  Now I'm wiped out.  Done.  Cooked.

Goodnight.  I want to do this four more times this week.  If that's going to happen I need to go to bed.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Are You Butt Hurt?

So, I have this weird friend.  That's probably why we're friends.  She is REALLY weird.  What helps the friendship even more is the fact that we've had such drastically different lives and experiences, so there is never any shortage of discussion topics.

This lady regularly shoots rattlers to keep them from biting (probably killing) her dogs.  (More than once is "regularly" to me.)  There is reason I don't live in central Texas.  She used to live in Phoenix, and she is visiting there this weekend.  It's 115 degrees.  There is a reason I don't live in Phoenix.

She has lived in Japan, she has worked a goat ranch, and she is working with a local (to HERE, not to her TX home) winery to make prickly pear wine.  There is so much more that I could fill a post with, but won't.  I told you she was weird.  Wait.  Maybe I meant "cool."

Anyway, a year or so ago, she used the term "butt hurt" about a coworker.  Huh?  She repeated that said coworker was butt hurt about something that had happened at work.  What in the HECK are you saying?  She acted like it was a common term, and I put it in the "Brookeism" column in my mind.  Then I promptly forgot about it for a year or so, unless she'd say it, making me chuckle.

So there is this message board that she and I are both a part of.  It's actually how we met, indirectly.  I finally, yesterday, posted something about the fact that this is something that NOBODY but Brooke would say.  Let me tell you, I think I might be the ONLY person in the WORLD who does NOT say it!  It's turned into a funny conversation over there, but seriously?  Other people SAY that?  I am blown away.

Actually, I might be a bit butt hurt over the whole thing.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Good Day

I DID have a good day today.  I overdid it in the heat, I think, but I had fun.  I felt nearly normal again...maybe even better than yesterday.  I asked my buddy Tammy if she'd like to get lunch or something, and she was game (as was her hubby Greg.)  They had some things to take care of first, and then I met them at their house, and showed Tammy and her daughter Brooke WAY more than they thought they'd see today.  (They wanted to see, so I showed them!)

Then, Tammy and I piled into Greg's truck and headed out for lunch.  We went to Texas Roadhouse and I ate like an idiot.  I was SO hungry.  I really ate too much.  I had chicken fried steak, sweet potato, salad and a beer, and it took four hours before I recovered.  So.Full.  We also had a good time laughing and I made Tammy cry (it was a good one, though) and she had Greg take us to a store I'd never heard of.

It had some cool stuff, and I'd be happy to tell you the name of it, if I remembered.  Let's just say it's that store beside the other store in that place with all the new stores.  In that one town.  West of here.  You know the place.

All in all, it was a fun day.  Driving home during the hottest part of the day with no a/c in the car is probably what did me in, but sitting in the a/c at home with a fan pointed at my recliner has me feeling good again.  I could go to sleep now, but I'm waiting a bit longer.  I have to keep a more regular schedule now that I'm back to work.

It feels SO good to feel so good.  Tiny, manageable aches and pains, but who doesn't have those?  I do find that, if I sleep in my bed at all, I wake up with my back screaming.  I spent 6 weeks sleeping in the recliner, and I have to ease back into sleeping in a real bed.  Weird huh?  Still, once I'm up and showered and moving, I feel normal.  Two days in a row!  Even better, no breakdown tonight!

Oh, and to answer some questions from comments:

  • I have been researching the heck out of all the medications that are in my regimen.  I know the side effects, common and rare.  I'm ready.  *sigh*
  • I have the numbing stuff to put over the port site, and plan to use it.  They accessed it once already to take blood, and it didn't hurt at all, and that was without the cream, so I don't expect problems that way.
  • I will get anti-nausea meds prescribed, and maybe during treatment if necessary.  Everyone reacts differently to chemo, so until I've had that first treatment, we won't know what's necessary for me, but we'll be fully prepare for any of it.
  • Yes, I know it's healthy to let myself cry.  I just am making sure that I don't slip into a funk.  I will allow myself short bursts of waah, but I will NOT let them become the norm.
  • I appreciate the prayers and kind words.  They mean the world to me right now.  Thank you. 

Puttin' on My Big Girl Panties

I was going to post last night.  The appointment was fine.  No bad news anywhere.  However, I was the weepiest cry-baby I've been since this whole journey started.  I cried about everything.  I sent a message to Mom so she wouldn't wonder/worry and told her I'd post today.  I don't like to post when I'm in a foul mood, unless I feel like conveying a foul mood in the post (which I sometimes do!)

Anyway, I worked for half a day (if I haven't mentioned it lately, I work with some cool people) and headed to the plastic surgeon's office.  The plan was to get my first fill in the tissue expander.  Because of how tight things were feeling, I was sure I'd have to go from there to get fluid removed because of the buildup.  He checked me out and said it wasn't enough to concern ourselves with.  YeeHaw!

That fact made me happier than I thought it would, because of a detail his nurse filled me in on.  If I had needed that done, they wouldn't have been able to do the fill.  So that all made me VERY grateful.  They did the fill and sent me on my way.  (By the way, the fill is a GIANT syringe full of saline and the whole process took less than 2 minutes.  Easy peasy.)

If you remember, chemo had been scheduled, but they had to cancel when they found out I still had that pesky drain.  Now that it's gone, I had to reschedule, which means a visit with the oncologist's office.  That was a confusing mess that took over an hour, but it finally got scheduled.  From that point on, I became a girl.

I HATE when I am girly and whiny, and I had a FULL evening of it.  Everything that was said or done set me off.  Poor Kevin.  I think the problem is that, until this point, all appointments for procedures have been made, and then I'm informed about them.  "Go to this hospital on this date and we're going to do a mastectomy."  Oh. OK.  "Go to this office and get your tissue expander fill on this date."  Oh, OK.

Yesterday, I had to play phone tag and wrestle for a date to see the oncologist, and if she pronounces that all is healed well, I go immediately downstairs for my first chemo treatment.  This will be June 12, for those keeping score.  I was told to plan on it taking most of the day due to the doctor's appointment first, and the fact that they do your first infusion slowly to watch for any problems.

So, I had make the appointment, chemo is back on the calendar again, and this all made things more real again for some reason.  I think getting back to work made me start to feel a little bit more normal.  Once the drain was gone, I could get really busy on a project and my brain wasn't constantly thinking CANCER in every train of thought. In fact, I felt the best, physically, yesterday that I've felt since surgery!  I was cutting up with friends and having a GREAT morning.  Suddenly, last night, the big "C" was back.

So I bawled a lot.  Made my husband miserable, too (because he can't fix it.)   I woke up this morning to a beautiful day, made some coffee, and read something online that made me tear up.  At this point I'd had it with me.  Kevin is on the way to Carthage to pick Monica up and Natalie is still in bed, so I'm upstairs alone.  This afforded me the opportunity to talk to myself out loud and not be sent to the loony bin.

I lectured myself for a good 5 minutes.  "Listen, you big baby!  Everyone deserves to go on a pity party sometimes, and everyone deserves to cry.  You had that chance.  You cried all evening yesterday.  You cried about big stuff like cancer and you cried about little stuff like a favorite show being a rerun.  You cried and cried and today, you're DONE.  Put on your big girl panties, go enjoy this perfect weather, and quit your sniveling.

Call Tammy and take her out to lunch.  Take Natalie shopping for a new swimsuit like you promised a week ago.  Quit playing victim.  Quit acting like cancer has you down, when right this moment, you aren't even undergoing TREATMENT!  If you LET yourself, you can feel AWESOME today.  Now have some coffee, get dressed, get out of the house and quit feeling sorry for yourself, you big baby."

I suggest that, if you ever act like I was acting, you don't do so around me.  I can give some harsh lectures.  Right this moment, I'm going to go get dressed and follow my advice.  I'm afraid that, if I don't listen to me, I might get mad at me and do something more drastic.  :)

Here's to a happy day!