Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Change of Plans

I expected bone pain on Monday.  It's one of the joys of my chemo plan.  I get a Neulasta shot on the day after infusion, which helps my bones produce white cells more quickly.  The drawback is that I get bad bone pain (lower back, hips and legs) 3-4 days after the shot.  At least I can plan for it, which means that I knew Monday would be tough.

I made it until about 11 at work and decided to go home and try to get some work done from there.  On the way home, I started feeling overall yucky.  I wasn't even logged in to work before deciding that work wasn't going to happen just yet.  I needed a nap.  I felt like CRAP.  I told the girls that I was going to grab a nap, and went to bed around 1:30.

The next thing I remember, it was nearly 5 and Kevin was home from work.  I was chilling, had a splitting headache, and was overall miserable.  I took my temperature and it was 101.6.  We are to call the on-call doctor if it reaches 100.5, so I asked Kevin to call.  I could barely think, so I knew I wouldn't be able to make a coherent phone call.

She called in an antibiotic, which Kevin went to pick up for me.  She also told me to go in for blood work first thing this morning.  I woke with a temp under 100, so I figured I'd get blood drawn and then go in to work.  Wrong.

They drew blood from my port, drew blood from my arm, took a urine sample and took a chest X-ray.  I waited about an hour for the results, and knew they weren't good when my oncologist came in to deliver the news, instead of the nurse.  She told me that she doesn't like to see white counts under 2000, and mine were 700.  Paired with my fever the night before, she wanted to admit me.  *sigh*

A new problem developed when they found out that there were no beds at the hospital where I was.  I would have to go to the Kansas City location.  I called Kevin, who left work to come get me.  I was exhausted, still had a headache, and didn't feel up to the drive.   Plus, by this point, I was a little bit scared.  We finally headed out around noon, grabbed a bite to eat, and got to "the big hospital."  Seriously, one can easily get lost here.

By the time I was in a room, it was 2:00.  Kevin had to go home to get some necessities for me (I had no phone charger or computer or toothbrush, for heaven's sake!)  They accessed my port again, finally gave me some Tylenol for my headache, and I settled in.

From what they say, I'll be here a couple of days.  I have no fever, and my headache is down to a dull roar when on Tylenol.  I can count on one hand the number of times I've been in the hospital, so I'm not quite sure what to do here.  I guess I'll just do as they say, lie here, and build white blood cells.  Thank goodness for in-room internet.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Family, Kami, and the Bi-Weekly Crash

I surprised Kevin and the girls Friday night by nabbing Kami for the weekend.  We haven't had her in over a month!  I'm scared to keep her when I'm home alone because of the medications that I take (in case she tries to wake me up or something,) and we have had several weekends of company.  This weekend found my family at home and no scheduled company, so I jumped at the chance.

Being day 3 of a chemo cycle, I was having trouble functioning Friday night when I stopped by mom's, but my brother is in town and I wanted to see what was going on over there.  Slowly, the rest of my clan showed up to be surprised by Kameron running to them.  At that point, I headed home to my trusty recliner.

Kevin and I went to the grocery store yesterday, leaving Kami with the girls.  I made it through the store OK, although still running out of breath easily.  I think that is all due to steroids, and I shouldn't have to take those any more, now that my chemo regimen had changed.  After getting groceries all put away, we headed to Mom's for the afternoon.

My appetite was starting to come back, but fruit is all that sounded good, so I ate a ton of fruit.  LOL  Kevin, my brother Jim, and the others all spent HOURS shooting skeet and targets in the back, while I hung at the house with Kami, Mom, and the other non-shooters.  It was nice to spend a whole afternoon over there, although I feel like such a slug when I barely move from the chair.

By last night, I ate part of a cardboard pizza (am I the only one who calls them that?) and it seems that my appetite is back.  This morning's cereal tasted amazing.  Today is crash day, but hopefully my last crash day. If it's true that I no longer need the steroids, then it should be my last.  I'm hoping that Kami wakes up soon so we can play before I melt into a pile of goo in this chair for the rest of the day.

My brother and his family will head home this morning.  I didn't get to see a ton of them, but it was nice to see them as much as I did.  It's been a long time.  I hate that cancer chemo robbed me of being able to take part in the festivities more, but I'm thankful that it exists.  I hope they get home safely and come back sooner next time.  I'll be ready to hang with the gang by then!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weird Sleep Schedule

Thursday darn near kicked my butt.  I was so tired when I left work and headed in for my Neulasta shot.  When I got home, I thought I'd just take a short nap so I could watch Big Brother at 8:00.  I was asleep by 3:30.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up and it was 10:30.  Oops.  Big Brother was recorded, so I still got to watch it.  I realized, too, that I'd only had about 10 saltines to eat all day.  Probably not a great plan, so I heated up a can of soup and watched my show.

After that, it was time to catch up online.  That being done, I need to see if I can squeeze in a couple more hours of sleep.  Somehow, I doubt it'll happen, but I have to give it a shot.  If not, I only have to get through one more day before the weekend.  I'm also thankful that I'm sleeping now, so I'll take it when I can get it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Halfway There, and Weird Thoughts

I'm sitting in "the chair," getting chemo treatment 4 of 8.  I'll be halfway done with this part of the journey in about 2 hours.  The drug that I start in 2 weeks is supposed to be much easier.  I'll take easier.  Although, once she got my headaches and sleeplessness under control, I can't say I have all that much to complain about on THIS set of drugs.

I also went to the plastic surgeon today for a tissue expander fill.  He only did 60 cc again because it's been a month and it would have hurt me too much to do more than that.  It hurts pretty dang bad, anyway.  This may be a day that I leave the infusion center, go home, pop a Valium and a pain pill and go to sleep.  Anyway, he says that if I go more often, it shouldn't hurt as bad, so we're only waiting two weeks this time.

I said this on Facebook, but I'm really laughing at myself about this.  Any time I go to ANY doctor, the nurse takes me back, takes my vitals, and says, "change into this gown, the doctor will be with you shortly."  I KNOW that I'm going to sit in that cold room for at least 20 minutes, yet I scramble to change as quickly as I possibly can.  Why?  What's the hurry?  I'm just going to sit there, feeling vulnerable, legs dangling from that paper covered table/bench/bed thing for what feels like DAYS.

I think I'm worried he'll walk in and see something.  See what?  You know, the same thing he's going to make me show him anyway!  What's the point of the speedy-change freak out?  I've been going to doctor appointments by myself for 25 years.  I have NEVER been walked in on, or even ALMOST been walked in on while changing.  How many more years will it take for me to slow down and take my time?

I wonder if they have a set amount of time that they wait, in case someone is a slow changer?  Does the nurse make a note of the time she walked out, so the doctor can wait the appropriate amount of time before coming in?  How long could even the slowest mover take to remove her shirt, remove her bra, put on a gown, and climb up on a paper covered table/bench/bed thing?  Two minutes?  Hmmm.  The things I ponder from the chemo chair.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reason Number 472 that Cancer Sucks

I've made a lot of friends online who are going through breast cancer at the same time as I am.  Many are on the same chemo drugs I am, and nearly the same schedule.  It is a fantastic place to learn about treatments, side effects, research, etc.  These women have been great for me, even when we're all just complaining to each other.  I feel a lot less guilt when I complain about a side effect to someone else going through it, instead of to the people who have to live with me.

While having a discussion with these ladies recently, I revealed another one of the 10,000 things that I hate about cancer.  Now that I've lost my hair, I've lost my anonymity.  Before the hair went, I could go out in public and blend in as just another woman in the store.  Now, I'm the sick woman.  Yesterday, during lunch, I told my friend that I hated looking sick.  She said that I didn't look sick to her.  What I meant, though, was the obvious lack of hair.

I just can't bring myself to wear a wig.  That is my choice, and I get that.  I am much more comfortable in a hat, buff or a bandanna, although they make it obvious that I have no hair underneath.  Everywhere I go, it's apparent that I have no hair, and the assumption is made that I am going through chemotherapy.  That brings one of two reactions:  I get the "pity look," or the instant gaze aversion.

I'm doing fine.  I'm getting through it.  I'll be halfway through chemo after Wednesday.  Having no hair has cut my shower time by more than half.  There are little silver linings everywhere.  I just miss blending in.  I miss being just another mom, shopping for toilet paper.

Although I cannot wait until a year from now when I have the reconstructive surgery and this is all behind me, I mostly want chemo to end so my hair can come back, so I can be just another face in the crowd.  When the pity looks and averted looks stop.  Yup.  Give me back my anonymity.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Easiest Cycle Yet

I made the mistake of taking my last steroid too late, which pushed my crash to a work day which overlapped with my bone pain day.  I even whined about it here.  However, this third cycle has been the easiest one yet.

I have had a headache only two out of the 11 days that have passed on cycle three.  This is on the heels of 4 weeks of daily headaches, so it's a BIG deal.  I have been getting eight hours of sleep without the aid of medication.  I was able to work nine hours, two days straight, to make up for the crash day shortage.

Yup.  I may have complained about Monday, but I'm very pleased with chemo cycle three.  I have one more dose of A/C, which happens on Wednesday.  I hope to sail through it as easily as this one.  After that, I start another chemo drug.  I've heard that Taxol is easier than the A/C combo for most people.  Isn't THAT good news???

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Feeling Better and a New Granddaughter

Yesterday and today have been better, and I even worked enough hours to make up what I shorted myself on Monday.  Not bad for only Wednesday.  I'm doing fine at work, and wiped out when I get home, so not much gets done by me.

More important news is that Jon and Kristin had baby Zoey Ann yesterday!  This is Jon's first, and he is so proud.  Of course, so are we.  How did I wind up with so many grandbabies at 43?  Wanna see the proud papa?

Wanna see what he's so proud of?

Yup.  I think she'll do.  I think she'll do JUST fine.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grumble Grumble Whine

I was happy to have most of  yesterday crash-free.  It was Brooke's last day here, and we enjoyed it, even if we did relax most of the day.  By 7:30 or so, though, I felt it coming.  By 8, I was nodding off in the chair and Kevin nudged me to go to bed.  The crash should have hit late Sunday morning, but I think my Saturday nap pushed my last steroid dose late enough to delay it.

I would have thought that a good thing, since it allowed me most of Sunday to enjoy my company.  The bad part was that it caused the crash to continue into a work day, as well as to allow it to overlap my severe bone pain day.  Yup.  Today sucked.

I made it six hours before heading home.  I had a pain pill and a nap for lunch, and haven't done much since.  I am thankful that the bone pain is typically limited to 24-36 hours, so before tomorrow is over, I should be feeling better.  I also believe that the crash symptoms should be mostly gone by morning.  If the steroid-induced emotional crap goes away with it, it will be a good Tuesday indeed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Being More Careful

Yesterday was fun.  The girls even got up without struggles, and we left early for City Market.  I didn't have to ditch my group for a bench, even though these stupid steroids take my breath a lot.  I just moved slowly along and we had a good time.

When we got home, I realized that I'd need a nap or I'd never make it through the afternoon, so I went to bed at 1:30 with my alarm set for 3.  It went off, I felt dizzy, so I turned it off.  Backup alarm went off at 4:00, but still, I couldn't get out of bed.  I looked over by the bed, saw my full water glass, and started counting ounces.  I didn't get to count very high.

I'd had a lot of coffee while everyone got ready, and then I'd had a Diet Coke.  I filled my glass before we hit the road, and that's all the water I had all day.  We walked around in the sun and heat for a couple of hours, and I wasn't drinking anything.  I was good and dehydrated.

It took a couple of hours and a LOT of water and Gatorade to straighten me out.  My head finally stopped spinning and I was told I looked better after 2-3 hours.  After getting that straightened out, I was hungry and actually ate dinner.  That's saying something for day four.  If I'd stayed hydrated, I'd probably had an amazing day!  LOL

Today should be crash day, but as easy as the rest of this cycle has been, I plan to not let it happen.  I'm already pumping down water, and anything we do will be inside the a/c today.  Brooke will head back home tomorrow, and I don't want to waste any of our time crashed out in my chair.  I'm already sad about her leaving.  I want to make the most of today.

I just have to be more careful.  I let the fact that I was doing so well lead to a false sense of security.  I now know to enjoy the fact that this third cycle is being so good to me, and keep up with the things I know my body needs.  Like water.  Time for a refill!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


It may be too soon to claim victory, but I believe this round is easier.  I got eight hours of sleep on Thursday night (Kevin had to WAKE me for work!) and another 7 last night.  I didn't have a headache all day yesterday.  Not a single pain pill or Tylenol was necessary.  I'm still not enjoying the steroids and I'm still out of breath, but I think the cut-dose is something my body can become accustomed to.  Woo Hoo!

Today, we're going to the city market.  I doubt I'll make it as long as the rest of the group, but they have benches in various places and tables and chairs in the shade, so I can take a break when I need to.  We don't really need much in the way of produce, with Mom around, but it's fun to go, anyway.  We'll hit it early before it gets hot, too.  The planned group is myself, Kevin, Brooke and my girls.  Who knows if the girls will get out of bed in time.  :)

I'm going to hope that the trend for this cycle continues.  I felt pretty darned good  yesterday, even if I *did* fall asleep in the recliner at 8:30.  LOL  That's karma for all the times I've laughed at Kevin for nodding off.   Yup.  Karma.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A/C Cycle Three Begins - and Brooke!

My buddy Brooke flew in from Texas to surprise me on Monday night.  What a surprise it was, too!  I love it when she's here.  I don't feel like I have to entertain her, so I can go to bed when I need to and sit comatose in the recliner if I need to.  She jumps up and helps in the kitchen, whether it's preparing food, cleaning up, or anything else that needs done.  She's family, only not as lazy as the rest of us.  :)

She accompanied me to my infusion appointment yesterday.  We had my favorite nurse and she laughed with (at) us several times.  Having Brooke there made the time fly by.  After it was over, we made a quick stop at HyVee, and Brooke spotted an Einstein Bagels, nearly giving me whiplash as she pulled in to the parking lot. She loves them, and can't get them near her home.

After that, we came home, and it's good that we did.  I had hit my wall.  Thank goodness, my appetite wasn't completely gone yet, and I enjoyed a piece of pizza.  I had some rewards points built up with Papa Johns, and they have $10 large pizzas on Monday-Wednesday, so I got a great deal.  I'm such a tight-wad.

I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 7:30 and was asleep within 15 minutes.  When I woke up, there was light outside my window.  I looked at my phone and it was 8:40.  How depressing!  I forced myself to stay in bed and dozed off and on until midnight, when I gave up.  I probably got a total of 2 1/2 hours.  Stupid steroids.

Oh well.  Every two weeks, as soon as I start to feel good, I go again.  Thank goodness I only have one more dose of A/C, and then I switch to Taxol, which is supposed to be easier and pack fewer side effects.  I SO hope that proves true.  I still say I'm blessed with light side effects, but if I could eliminate the headache and insomnia, I'd be a happy camper!

I better sign off.  I only have 4 hours before I have to get ready for work!  LOL

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chugging Along

I don't have much to report, which is probably a good thing.  No nosebleeds, no unplanned trips to the doctor, no sickness or other nonsense.  Just chugging along.

Yesterday, we went to mom's for a catfish fry.  It was fabulous.  I had decided that I was going to spend a day without a headache, so I popped pain pills like they were Chiclets.  That's not really true, but I took one early morning, noon, and evening.  I spent the whole day (after taking the first one) headache-free.  That was nice.

The other thing that the pain pills caused was a two hour nap.  I figured that would keep me from sleeping last night, but it didn't.  I slept 7 hours with no problem.  BONUS!

Today, the girls are at Vans Warped Tour with their brother Jonathan.  They are having SO much fun, and I'm thrilled that it's a full ten degrees cooler than last week.  I have a feeling they'll get home too late for me to see them, so I'll have to hear the stories tomorrow evening.

See?  Nothing much to report, but I'm OK with that.  Yup.  It suits me JUST fine.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 11 is NOT My Friend

I guess there's something to be said for knowing what to expect.  I know that days 7-11 are my "nadir" period, or the lowest point for my blood counts.  You may remember day 11 of my last round, which is when I had the nosebleed at work and they had me come in to get blood drawn.  Well, today is day 11.  Guess what happened?

Kevin's mom came up to visit for a couple of days, bringing his sister's son with her.  They headed home late this morning, and we decided to go grab something to eat.  I was starving, and we don't eat out that often, so we decided on 54th Street, which is always a favorite of my girls.  Kevin planned to go to the store afterward, and I knew that my stamina is too low and that I'd best come straight home after eating, so we took two cars.

Natalie and I climbed into my car, and before I was three blocks from home, the nose started bleeding.  I have been keeping Kleenex in the car, thank goodness.  (When you lose your hair, that includes the tiny hairs in your nose, so it tends to be drippy.  TMI?  Sorry.)  Anyway, I turned quickly into the church that we were passing by, and Kevin followed to see what was up.

I came home and told them to go without me, but he didn't want to.  I shouldn't really be in the public right now, anyway, due to germs, but I was awfully hungry.  LOL  He offered to go get something for me to eat before they went, but I didn't want to make them wait.  Finally, I told him that, if it didn't stop in five minutes, they were leaving without me and I'd eat something at home.

Four minutes later, it finally stopped.  Of course, when I lose that much blood (it was a LOT,) I get a horrible headache (way worse than my daily headache) and get completely worn out.  Still, I was hungry, so we went.  My stomach won an argument with my good sense.  I know I'm supposed to call if that happens, but I called last time and they said my blood counts were OK.  I didn't call.

We ate, it was good, and now I'm home.  What a giant pain in the ass this is going to be.  I suppose there are worse things than a bi-weekly bloody nose.  The bright side is that my hair is almost completely gone, so I can stop shedding everywhere.  I'm tired of THAT little treat, too.  I guess it's karma for all the times I griped at my dogs for shedding in the house.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

And She's Back

After Sunday's crash and Monday's screaming bone pain, Tuesday was more tolerable.  My legs and lower back still hurt pretty darn bad, but it was tolerable and I could work.  My appetite was back, and I not only ate lunch, but also ate like crazy last night.

We're going to Mom's today for the fourth, so I'm glad to be feeling better.  I made pasta salad last night, and Kevin and I put together a fruit salad this morning.  We'll do hot dogs and brats, to minimize the time Kevin spends at the grill in the 100 degree heat.  Mom made a peach cobbler, and I've heard a rumor about potato salad.  Sounds like plenty of food, considering how few people will be there.  It's OK, though.  Leftovers are my friends.

I'm glad I've been keeping a chemo diary of sorts.  It helps me to know what to expect, and it gives me hope to know when my appetite returned last time, etc.  Otherwise, I think it would feel quite depressing during the five days or so that I don't want food.  I still get a headache every day, but it hasn't been as bad.  She said she'd cut the steroids further if this continued, so that will probably happen.  I'm kind of scared for her to do so, though, because the steroids are keeping me from being nauseous.

Oh well.  Like I said before, if a headache is the worst I have to deal with, I consider myself blessed.  I'll take some Advil and go enjoy my day.  We went a bit overboard with fireworks for the girls.  I think it's guilt on my part.  I feel like I've robbed my family of a summer, so I'm spoiling them when I can.  Because we'll have no vacation, no trips, and no amusement parks, I indulge them when an opportunity shows itself.  Eh.  It makes me feel better, ok?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Surviving the Crash

I got out early to see Mom and Dad, and was glad I did.  As I sat on their couch, I could feel it coming.  It made me glad that we live fewer than two miles away from them.  I got home in time for "the crash."  The crash comes after the oral steroids are gone, and seems to leave me comatose for most of a day.  I asked Kevin to take the girls to get some lunch or something and I headed to bed.

Just like last time, I alternated between the bed and the recliner.  My limbs are like spaghetti and my lower back and legs hurt.  My head is full of oatmeal and my conversational skills are that of a carrot.  I'm so glad this only happens once per chemo cycle.  I gave in and went to bed around 6:30 last night, but even with Ambien I was awake at midnight.

I forced myself to stay in bed, and even dozed a bit, until 2:00.  At that point, I gave up.  I may as well get ready for work, if I'm going to be awake.  I'm also losing hair by the hands-full.  You can't tell to look at my head, but it's time to wear a hat, simply for shed control.  Every day is an adventure for me right now.   I should feel a bit better each day this week, so that is something to look forward to.

I'm also thankful that I've found more that sounds good to eat this time around.  Fruit is good, as is chicken and potatoes.  At least I can get some protein, if chicken tastes good to me.  Kevin grilled a bunch up for me, so I'll take that for lunches this week.  I hear the protein will make me feel better.  

Finally, the headaches are still here, but very mild compared to before.  My sleep patterns aren't improving, but the steroids being cut must have helped some.  Days seven and eight of the last cycle are the days when my headache hit the hardest, and I'm day six of this cycle.  I'm determined it's not going to happen this time.  

Oh, and we get Wednesday off!  Another plus!  I can't be in the sun and I wear out pretty easily, but Mom has a/c, so we'll go out there and let the girls blow some stuff up.  Yup, just another week, surviving chemo.