November 2, 2007

Woo-hoo! I just tried driving for the first time – it was both easier and harder than I would have expected. Because my Mini is so small, it turns out the the majority of shifting arm movement is from my elbow, which helps. However, I do have to push to get it into first, third, and fifth gears, and that definitely was causing movement that made the left tissue expander move around some. It hurt, but not as bad as I was expecting. We’ll see how the muscles feel after a rest, since they’re unused to that much activity at any one time. I took my friend Sharon over to the Tanasbourne Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte, and if I’d overdone it, she would have driven home. We did have to work up a makeshift “pillow” (using a sweatshirt I’d left in the car) to put underneath the seat belt’s shoulder strap, because I can’t shift and hold it away from my chest at the same time, and I didn’t think to take my pink-ribbon pillow with me. I’m definitely not ready to drive for too far a distance yet, but I’m happy to know that I can start working my way back to doing normal activities, even if it’s slowly at first.

This afternoon I went in for a MUGA scan, which tested my heart pump action. Of the two chemotherapy drug combinations I can choose from, the Adriamycin/Cytoxin combination can damage heart pump action on a permanent basis, so they want to check to make sure that I don’t already have any problems in that area. If I do, they will put me on Taxotere/Cytoxin, which has its own problems – there can be neuropathy side effects including numbness and tingling in extremities, which usually disappears, but can be permanent in a small proportion of patients. Because both my work and my arts and crafts extensively use my fingers/hands, I really don’t want to have to deal with this effect. Other than that, they’re essentially the same, except the A/C combo is given every two weeks, and the T/C combo is given every three weeks. At any rate, the MUGA showed that my heart pump action is at 62 (%?), which is definitely above normal (normal is anything over 50). And I’m radioactive for the next 60 hours.

I also have to have a CT scan next week, which will be looking at my chest specifically, because I’ve had some undiagnosed chest pain for over a year – my primary care doctor did a bunch of testing to rule out heart problems, and she decided that it was muscular due to being large-breasted. Of course, I no longer have that to contend with, and have been having the pains since I had the surgery (to me, easily differentiated from the pains related to the surgery). I’m not really sure what they’ll be looking for, and I’m not really sure they know either.

Then I have to have a chemo port installed under the skin on my chest – that will happen Tuesday; so it’s just possible that I will start chemo as early as next Friday (assuming that they have the results of the CT scan back in time), but more likely the Friday after (11/16). The port has a tube that will be inserted into one of my veins (probably the jugular), and it will go all the way to the vena cava. The chemo drugs are pretty toxic, and they can damage the smaller veins in your arms, not to mention that since they can’t use the obvious ones in the crook of your elbow, they often have to poke you several times trying to find the ones in the meat of the forearm. Also, the direct flow into the bigger vein helps dilute the chemo into your bloodstream faster, and makes the whole process go more quickly. The Adriamycin is administered by a nurse in a hazmat type suit, because if the drug gets onto your skin, you’d probably need a skin graft to repair the damage. And they’re putting this into my veins?!?

So next week is going to be a busy week. If nothing else, I can feel as if I’m able to do something to fight back, instead of having to just sit here and recover.



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