Friday, September 28, 2012

Feeling Good (and Confused)

On Monday, I had my radiology consult.  By midday on Tuesday, the bone pain was nearly gone, causing me to take nothing more than Advil.  By Wednesday, I was back to feeling myself...or at least 90% myself, which is the most I could hope for these days.  It felt pretty darn good, too.  I'm back to being myself, and annoying my coworkers.  :)

Yesterday, I got a phone call from radiology, saying that they had my schedule ready, and I would have 33 treatments, starting Monday.  I wrote down everything she said, and was thinking about how to get my full hours in at work while attending an 8:00 appointment every morning.  After hanging up, it hit me:  NEXT Monday???  That's not even 2 weeks after my last chemo, and the oncologist said I'd have a month between for my body to rest and get back to normal.  Also, my whites are at their lowest today through Monday.  *sigh*

I emailed the oncologist's nurse and got back to work while waiting for an answer, although to say I was distracted would be an understatement.  I didn't get an answer by the time I left a bit after 2:00.  The nurse always said that if I don't get an answer, I should call, so as soon as I got in the car, I called in.  (I was on a bluetooth headset, so don't lecture me.)

The receptionist said that my usual nurse wasn't in (thus, the non-answer) but she would transfer me to the other nurse.  I got her voice mail.  *sigh*  I left a detailed message about what I wanted.  This was around 2:15 and her message said she was in until 3:30.  I never got a call back.  Even if she wouldn't have an answer until today, I wish she would have called to tell me that.

I woke up at 2:00 and immediately started thinking about it.  If the oncologist thinks it's too soon to start, I'll have to call radiology and change the plan.  If the oncologist leaves it up to me, I don't know what to do.  Having another couple of weeks off would be nice, but if I start Monday, I'll be done by mid-November.  That would be nice, too.  I just hope it's not up to me.  I want her (the oncologist) to tell me what to do, and I'm sure she will.  These swirling thoughts kept me from going back to sleep, of course.  Sheesh.

If I haven't heard from them by the time I leave today, I'm driving ot her office and talking to someone in person, whether they like it or not.  This is my last business day before I am to start radiation treatments, and if I DON'T start Monday, they deserve a bit of notice that I'm not going to show up.  I sure am fed up with cancer and all that it entails.

Tonight, though, Kevin and I are meeting some friends in Brookside for some dinner and an after-work drink.  I can't believe I'm going to do something like normal people do.  I'm really looking forward to it, too. By the end of the day, I'll have an answer to my radiation confusion, and I'll be hanging out with friends that I haven't seen in too long.

Monday, September 24, 2012

That's a "Yes" on Radiation

As I figured, I'll be receiving radiation.  Kevin and I met with the radiology oncologist this afternoon to discuss things.  He's a likable guy who is good at explaining things in an easy-to-understand way.  The most common side effects are fatigue and a diminished appetite.  I can handle fatigue, and my back side can handle a diminished appetite.

Of course, he had to tell me of some more serious possible side effects.  They have to prepare you for anything, but I sure hate hearing those things.  The percentage of a chance of those were quite small, though.  I'll consider myself warned, but try not to think about them.
He actually had me go across the hall while we were there for a CT scan and tattoos.  The tattoos are slightly larger than the period at the end of this sentence, and there are two of them.  He'll now look over the scan, come up with a plan for me, and then the technician will call me to schedule it.

I've heard horror stories of people having to pay a co-pay with each daily visit (x38 do the math,) but that will not be the case with Saint Luke's.  That was nice to hear.  I will have to go to the plaza location for treatment, but that's not as big of a deal as those who live near me may think.  That location is less than 7 miles from work, so I'll just do morning appointments and then go straight to work.

If I understand what my medical oncologist told me at my last visit, I'll have a month between the end of chemo and the time that radiation starts.  That equals three glorious weeks of feeling normal.  I'm really looking forward to some happy weekends.  I miss going to mom and dad's to just sit and shoot the breeze.  I miss getting outside and enjoying this perfect weather.  I miss going to school functions.   Yeah.  I'm looking forward to a bit of normal, even if it's just a few weeks.

Today was excruciating, much like the weekend was, so I've taken some pain meds and plan to go to sleep early.  If history holds true, I'll feel a bit better tomorrow, and the pain will be mostly gone by Wednesday, needing only an occasional Tylenol or Advil.  After that, look out, world!  I'm already conniving to get Kevin to take me to meet up with some friends after work on Friday for a drink.  I am so excited to even be thinking about that!

Now, I have some nurses to email with questions.  *sigh*  I can't wait until cancer and treatment are not the only things I think of.  LOL  Oh, and staying awake until dark.  That'd be a nice change of pace, too.  :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012


The doctor was wrong.  I kinda figured this would be the case, but I had my hopes up to be the one who was wrong.  How often can you say that?  "Boy oh boy do I hope I'm wrong!"  The pain seemed to settle in a bit later, so by noon yesterday, I still had hope.  When I got home, though, I could tell it was getting worse and the football game was likely out of the question.

I took a pain pill and a nap, but when I woke up, it was even worse.  One more football game missed.  This morning, it's the worst it's ever been.  This time is different, though.  This time, I can chant "One more time.  One more time.  One more time."  I'm almost done.  This is the last time I have to feel this way.  By Tuesday or Wednesday, the pain will subside and then I get a month off.  A month of NO treatment of ANY kind.

After that month, radiation will likely start, but that'll be a cake-walk compared to this stupid Taxol.  It may make me tired.  Tired is something I can handle.  That's why they make coffee, I think.  Anyway, I'll know more about that plan on Monday.  Kevin will pick me up and we'll go for a consult with the radiology oncologist.  Then we'll know the plan.

For now, I'll sit right here.  I hurt, but I know it's going to end soon.  Somehow, that makes it better.  I've showered and moved to the recliner, so I am among the living.  This is likely the most activity I'll see today, though.  One more time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Done With Chemo and the Laptop Screen is Fixed

With that title, who needs to type anything down here?  LOL  That pretty much says it all.

I had my final chemo today.  Kevin took a half-day off to come sit with me.  When I was done, I got to ring the bell.  They have a bell that you ring loudly when you are done.  I did that, smiling all the while, and then I got a certificate that all the nurses signed with a personal message.  It was SO sweet.  They said such nice things.  I am happy that it's done.  Now to get through a week of side effects (if the Dr. was correct, they won't be bad this time, though,) and I can feel normal for a few weeks before radiation starts.

Also, Kevin ran into the UPS guy at the post office this afternoon.  I had been tracking my laptop screen and knew he had it, so Kevin offered to save him a trip to our house.  Yup.  Saved him 3 whole blocks!  LOL  I got the screen replaced and am SO happy to be typing on a real keyboard again.  And now, a shameless plug:

If you ever break your laptop screen or need to replace it for any reason, I'd suggest  I ordered late on Friday evening and the screen arrived today.  (Keep in mind that we live in the boonies.)  They have videos on YouTube, showing step by step instructions for replacing it.  When it got here, it has a letter stating that it has a 2 year warranty against dead pixels, lines, brightness issues, etc.

OK, that's enough of that unpaid commercial.  I'm  happy to have my laptop back.  I'm going to keep it in a different place, so my clumsiness will spare this screen.  I hope.

The stupid side effects are kicking in.  These side effects are from the pre-meds.  Benadryl has my head feeling swimmy and loopy, but I must fight sleep, because it also has a steroid that often makes me wake up by 2:00, unable to go back to sleep.  *sigh*

It's OK, though.  This is the LAST TIME I have to deal with this crap.  For the small time I sleep tonight, I will sleep happy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Feelin' Good Weekend

Friday, after work, I didn't even have enough energy in reserve to go to a football game and watch my girls in the marching band.  Busy season is amping up at work, and the cumulative side effects of treatment find me tiring easily. I was bummed about missing it, but I felt I'd pay a high price, physically, if I pushed too far past the point that my body told me to stop.

Fortunately, I woke up feeling pretty darned great yesterday.  It was one of those few days when I nearly felt pre-cancer "normal." I was to have the girls at the dentist by 9, and decided to take advantage of the good day and run the roads with them afterwards, just having fun.

We went to a few thrift stores, which is one of Monica's favorite activities, but her mouth was sore as the numbness wore off, and her heart wasn't in it. As lunch time approached, her Advil was kicking in, and she was more like herself.  We stopped at 54th Street and invited Brett to join us.  It was nice to laugh and have a good time with all three of them.  Jon was missing, but Kevin is down South, visiting him, so I guess it was "divide and conquer." LOL

After lunch, we went to Deals, dropped Brett off at his house, and then went to WalMart. That's where we were when I hit the wall.  I needed a nap ASAP.  We got out of there, grabbed a happy hour drink at Sonic, and got home. My kids are hilarious, though, and I had laughed more yesterday than I have in a long time. I probably needed a nap to recover from laughing!

Later last night, Monica woke from her nap feeling awful.  I hope it's just a bad bout of allergies, since I was in close quarters with her all day.  She didn't have a fever, so maybe that's it. She sneezed no fewer than 100 times, and I say that with no exaggeration. I sure hope she feels better today.

I slept later than usual this morning, but already have a good jump on the housework. I am getting the full benefit of feeling good, since my final chemo is coming up on Wednesday.  Final chemo. What a great thing to type. I may feel like a leftover crap sandwich next weekend, but I'm using every inch of the runway THIS weekend.  And I still have half of the weekend to go.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Doctor's Appointment

I had my appointment today. The closer it gets to the end of chemo, the more I can't wait to get on with things. Next Wednesday is my last infusion. I may have had a chip on my shoulder when I got there, anticipating answers that would not be welcomed, but I tried really hard not to let it show. I think I succeeded.

First, I waited 30 minutes from the time my vitals were taken until the doctor came in. I know things can get off schedule, but this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Don't tell me the various reasons that can cause it. I won't accept them. It is EVERY doctor in EVERY field that I have EVER seen.  I think it is rude and indicates that they think their time is more important than mine.  If it happened SOME of the time, or even MOST of the time, maybe, but it's ALWAYS. Thus ends that particular rant.

I asked when the port would be removed, and she said they will leave it in through radiation. This is in case anything happens that requires access. That situation has never happened to any of her patients, but they'll leave it in just in case.  (avoiding another rant, here.) After radiation, it will be removed, often in the office.

She kept talking about during radiation and after radiation, so I finally asked, "So am I having radiation? Because before we started, you said it would be decided later." She agreed that the appointment with the radiology oncologist was to make that determination, but then listed off the reasons I need it. So much for me and the other doctor deciding.

Finally, she was shocked by the amount of pain I'm having on Taxol. She thinks that the culprit is the Neulasta shot. I explained that I had 1/3 the severity of pain for 1/4 the duration from the Neulasta during all four cycles of A/C, and it got this much worse since switching to Taxol. She insisted that it must be the shot, so we're going to skip it next week.

Skipping it is OK, since it's use is to boost white cells in time for the next infusion and I won't have a next infusion after that one. Fine.  In that way, it's worth a shot (no pun intended.) Let my white cells rebound on their own. I was agreeable about the plan. Maybe I won't lose an entire weekend next time.

Then she said, "You'll just have to be extra diligent about hand washing and avoiding anyone that might be sick. If you get a fever, we may have to call in an antibiotic for you or admit you to the hospital again." She said it so matter-of-factly. Oh. Cool. So I might go back into the hospital again. Sweet.

Finally, she told me FOUR times that I'm doing so well.  I'm doing great. I've handled it so well. I'M NOT DOING GREAT! I'M FEELING LIKE A BIG WHINEY BABY AND I WANT THIS TO BE OVER RIGHT NOW! (Insert foot stomp here)

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don't blog when you're crabby.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday in Bed with Thoughts and Questions

It was a busy week. Chemo week always is. Mom went with me for my infusion this time, which made the time go faster. We did a good job turning it into an excuse to eat out, too. We are the two best at that.

Friday went OK. My back and hips hurt, but it didn't move into my legs until today, so I made it nearly 8 hours at work before bailing on them. So far, it looks like I'll be in bed most of the weekend again. It sucks, but there's only one more after this. I have an appointment with my oncologist this coming Wednesday, and boy do I have questions this time!

When will they take my port out? When will I see the radiation oncologist to decide if I'm having radiation? If I don't have radiation (and I probably will,) how long do I have to wait for reconstruction? If I do have radiation, how much? 

That's just the tip of the iceberg.  I've only concentrated on chemo all this time. Now that chemo is nearly done, I'm ready to move forward, and I want answers! LOL For the next couple of days, though, I'll be in bed with pills and a heating pad. *sigh*

Monday, September 3, 2012

You Just Gotta Laugh

I have fewer "good days" on this drug, and they hit this weekend. Granted, my good days now feel a lot like days when I had the flu, pre-cancer, but I can function.  I got tickled about something on Saturday night and laughed so hard that the girls thought I was crying.

Sunday morning, it happened again. Both girls and I laughed so hard that I nearly hurt myself. I realized, after all had calmed down, that I hadn't laughed that hard in over a month.  Later yesterday, Kevin and the girls were gone, so I went to see Mom and Dad.  As is typical for visiting them, there were quite a few laughs.

The past few days have made me realize that uninhibited, hard, tear-inducing laughter is something that cancer/chemo has stolen from me, and I think I miss it more than I miss my hair. I have two more days before my next round of chemo, and I plan to laugh every chance I get.

Having only four good days out of 14 will wake a person up to what is lacking.  Laughter has been seriously lacking around here.  I'll have to see what I can do about that.  This goof ball usually helps in that department, even when demanding my attention that is being directed at blogging.