Archive for the 'pulmonary embolism' Category

27
Mar
09

OK, this is not funny anymore. . .

. . . I have pneumonia. Again.

The doctor doesn’t know why – I don’t think he really cares why, he just wants to get me over it so he can keep poisoning my body.

Which, most likely, is one of the reasons I have pneumonia again – the compromised immune system can’t beat back those germs that healthy people shrug off every day. At least we caught it early again; apparently I am ultra-sensitive to the pressure of fluid building up. Interestingly enough, it is only happening in my left lung, which is the same as the last time. The pulmonary embolisms were one in each lung, but I’ve long had pain in my left chest (heart problems ruled out); and the cancer was in my left breast. No wonder they call it sinister!

The first round of pneumonia responded to Levaquin, which is a very potent antibiotic. On second thought, maybe Dr. Medici is gleefully rubbing his hands together going “mwa-ha-ha-ha” that I have pneumonia, because seriously, this stuff has the potential to be as bad as Taxol and Avastin – it can cause temporary or permanent nerve damage, bleeding problems, seizures, hallucinations, and tendonitis or tendon rupture, amongst the five pages of warnings that came with the cute little bottle.

At any rate, one of the problems it can cause is sleeplessness, and right now, as tired as I am, I cannot sleep. Of course, I couldn’t last night either, so it may be totally unrelated to the Levaquin.

So anyway, that’s how *my* week is going. I’m mildly depressed, and massively annoyed at being sick again – hey, chemo by itself is enough. But Brian is back home from his trip, and that’s wonderful, and the cats have been very cuddly recently. . . hmm, I seem to recall that they were pretty cuddly back the first time. I guess they’re pretty sensitive to this, also. Great – now whenever one of the cats wants to sit on my lap, I’m going to get paranoid. I mean, I woke up this morning with a cat lying on top of me purring – and today I’m diagnosed with pneumonia. Cats as diagnotic tools – guess I won’t go there about whether he was doing a scan or not. Oops, sorry, I went there.

22
Feb
09

February 22, 2009

Yuck.

I mean it. Yuck.

This evening is the worst I’ve felt since chemo started. I have been sleeping most of the day, my bone and muscle pain has been down most of the day actually, but this evening is starting to edge up; I’m feeling some tingling and numbness in my extremities, my left hand in particular (peripheral neuropathy); my head is aching terribly, I’m having mouth sores start to develop (that was a regular thing with the Adriamyacin, only had this once before with Taxol); my mouth tastes terrible, and anything I eat tastes terrible; smells are really getting to me, I’m feeling dehydrated, and I keep swinging between feeling chilled and having hot flashes; my stomach is nauseous, enough so that I thought I was going to puke earlier, but the feeling passed; and there’s intimations that all is not well on the intestinal front.

Let’s see – oh, yeah, and my chest is hurting again. I’m not having any problems breathing, but I know if I call the doctor tomorrow, he’s going to want me to go to the emergency room. It’s probably just because I slept wrong, since my neck and shoulder on the same side feel tight and sore, so I’m going to try to stretch some to see if that helps. If it gets worse, of course I’ll call the doctor, but I’m *really* sick of having to go the emergency room for anything that might possibly be a pulmonary embolism. If it really were, I’d probably be dead by now!

So, wah. That’s where I’m at right now. Time for more drugs. Hooray for anti-nausea medication ;-} I may take some sleeping pills, too, just to see if I sleep better tonight than I did last night – the first couple hours were good, but then I lay awake for another couple hours, and then I got up and finished knitting the second sleeve on my current knitting project. Fell back asleep in the recliner, got another 3 hours of sleep there; took a long nap this afternoon, then again this evening. If I weren’t feeling so crappy right now, I feel as if I could sleep another 9 or 10 hours.

But the good news is that I’m halfway through the chemo. Only two more months to go! Woot!

03
Feb
09

February 3, 2009

Well, it’s only Tuesday, but already we’ve had more drama than necessary this week.

Last Thursday, I realized that I was coming down with a cold, so worked from home on Friday, and tried to take it pretty easy on the weekend. I already had plans for Saturday morning (a class on learning how to use my new sewing machine’s spiffy functions, which are indeed way cool), so I went to that.

Then on Sunday Carrie, James, Brian, and I went to brunch at Petite Provence on Division, which, not so coincidentally, just happens to be next to my most favorite bead store ever, Beads at Dusti Creek. So of course, we sent the boys home and spent a couple hours browsing and chatting – I really went to visit the ladies, because I haven’t been in for a long time, and miss seeing everyone. Sweet Calla was there, but sadly, nearly everyone else except for Eric, and most importantly Beau, were not. But we had a great visit with Calla, and Carrie found some great stuff for a new project.

I’m on a stash diet this year – I have enough beads, fabric for quilting, and yarn for knitting to last me for way more than a year (at least at my present level of output), so I’m only going to work from items in my stock. Of course, if I don’t have any findings, or need batting for a quilt, or don’t have the right set of needles for a knitting project, I will do what I have to do to make sure I don’t have a pile of UFOs on hand, but otherwise, NO purchasing new beads, fabric, yarn.

At any rate, I made it out of Dusti’s without actually buying anything, and oddly enough, without the usual “Oh, but just think what I could make with *this*, and it won’t be here the next time I come back, so. . .” temptation. It was fun to look at stuff, and I definitely saw things I would like to make projects with, but I didn’t even have to talk myself out of anything. Weird.

Of course, that might be because I wasn’t feeling up to par – my cold and left-over chemo side-effects from the last infusion on the 23rd had me pretty tired, and after I got home, I lay down for a two-hour nap. I had no problem sleeping Sunday night, either.

I woke up Monday morning to a pain in my calf, which lasted for a few minutes; and before that pain passed, my left lung all of a sudden felt like it was being compressed, and I felt like I was breathing through cotton. I could feel mild pain in my back underneath my shoulder blade. When I stood up I was a bit light-headed. Crap. These are similar symptoms to what I felt when I had my pulmonary embolism.

I called the oncologist, and, as I expected, he sent me to the ER. It was very busy, so probably the first hour was spent in the waiting room, although they did give me an EKG while I waited (sounds sort of like a service for the busy professional – EKGs and ultrasounds WHILE YOU WAIT!). Once I was in a room, they drew some blood and hooked me up to an IV. Annoyingly, they had to poke me in the arm rather than use my port, because the contrast agent they use for CT angiograms cannot be put through the kind of port I have. Apparently there is something called a “power port” that is specifically designed for taking that kind of abuse (hey – if a bloody plastic apparatus can’t take it, how are my precious organic VEINS supposed to handle it, huh?).

Another 4-1/2 hours and one CT scan later, the doctor told us that I had pneumonia. Brian and I looked at each other, pumped our fists, and yelled “woo hoo!” – pretty sad when having pneumonia is a good thing, but ya gotta admit that it is *much* better than a pulmonary embolism.

Even more exciting is that this means we don’t have to take me off the Avastin. It can cause bleeding problems (either clots or hemorrhaging in extreme cases), so if I’d had a PE, we would have had to stop it.

Finally got home (via Dairy Queen for my first meal of the day, and a consolation Heath Bar Blizzard) around 5 p.m., had a nap, read, went to bed. I’m on antibiotics for two weeks, and the doctor says I can go back to work by Friday. Of course, Friday is supposed to my next chemo, so I have a call in to the oncologist to find out if that’s still a go or not. I *really* do not want to delay the chemo. I want to get it over with!

I woke up around 2:30 a.m. this morning with an upset stomach and a killer headache. I got up at 3, had some broth and crackers, and sat in my recliner reading until 4. Since my stomach was better, but my head was still killing me, I decided to nap in the recliner for a while rather than go back to bed and risk waking Brian with my restlessness.

Around 7:30, Robin, who had been sleeping behind my recliner, started thrashing around, woke me up from a fairly sound sleep. I jumped out of the chair and went around to see what was the problem – he couldn’t stand up, his hind legs weren’t working. I calmed him down, ran my hands over his back and hind legs, but didn’t seem to have any pain reaction. Got him on his front legs, then lifted him onto his hind legs, and he was able to walk but not steadily – his rear legs kept collapsing. I got him over onto the carpet, and sat with him for a while, calming him down again, then tried standing him up again. It looked like it was mostly his right rear leg that was the problem.

I woke Brian up, who took him to the vet – they didn’t have an open appointment until 3 p.m. this afternoon, so Robin will be there all day. Since Brian has to go in to a client’s site this afternoon, hopefully our neighbor will be able to pick Robin up.

So that’s been my fun couple days so far. Woo hoo!

06
Dec
08

December 6, 2008

This time last year, I was bald. This year, I am painfully short (well, my hair is).

I’ve decided to start keeping track of my hair adventures with this next round of chemo – I have a patchy record from the previous treatment, but am going to start a picture album of the changes I go through this time. I really regret that I didn’t get more pictures of the super-tight curl and the afro in its various stages and colors; although perhaps I can get a digital copy from the radiation oncologist of my ‘tweener stage with the bleached curls and the white roots. Except I have the “deer-in-the-headlights” stare in that one, so it’s not one of my better pictures. I definitely take after my mom that way – we always look like that in posed pictures. Candids are *much* better.

My radiation burns are clearing up nicely. Lots of peeling, with smooth, shiny skin underneath; but I suspect that I’m going to have a visual reminder from the treatment for quite a while until the tan fades. Happily, I haven’t developed a lot of scar tissue yet, although that is apparently an ongoing development for months if not years after. There is one big clump right in between the two scars, but now that my skin isn’t so sensitive to touch, I’ve gotten back into the massage technique the physical therapist showed me. I had to buy some tennis balls just for that – it puts a more even pressure on the tissue and rolls very easily, whereas using your fingers creates more specific points of pressure (which is fine in many types of massage, but not so much for breaking up scar tissue, I guess). The trick is to keep from doing it when the dog is around – he thinks tennis balls are *his* toys. Fortunately he’s not such a ball dog as a retriever would be. Robin will play fetch and dribble them between rungs of a chair, but by far his favorite game with a tennis ball is to pull the fuzz off of it.

I’m still feeling some fatigue, although it never got as bad as I thought it might. I have had some difficulty sleeping, but for the most part have been getting roughly 7 or 8 hours most nights.

Next up, I have my chemo port implanted on Tuesday this coming week. When I met with the surgeon, she said that she would try to put it on the right side again, in the same spot as before; but sometimes scarring from a previous port can make that impossible. If that’s the way it goes for me, she’ll have to put it in on the left side. That’s undesireable for several reasons – there’s all the skin damage from the radiation treatment to avoid; I normally sleep on my left side, and laying on the side with the port is very uncomfortable; but the biggest fear is that it will raise the risk of lymphedema in my left arm significantly. I am very anxious to avoid developing lymphedema. The people I know who have it tell me it is much more than inconvenient – it can be life-changing because of the way you have to limit things you do, and how you do them. I’ll keep my fingers crossed (unless someone tells me that lymphedema can be triggered that way. . .).

At this point, I haven’t heard back from the oncologist about the use of Avastin in my case – he was out of town the week before, and this week I think he was hoping to avoid talking to me by having the triage nurse ask if I couldn’t just talk to him when I came in for my first chemo. Well, no, I can’t. I’m very concerned about the significant increased risk of thromboembolic events (blood clots), because of my history. And I really want to know how he can justify that risk in the face of an unknown benefit for a treatment that is completely non-standard. On the other hand, I’m also paranoid about the possibility that this recurrence is much more aggressive than we know, and am willing to take a calculated risk in an effort to make sure that any cancer cells that might have gotten through the lymph system are dealt with. So I stated my concerns very clearly, and asked to have him call me back. When I hadn’t received a call as of Friday morning, I called again and told her that I really wanted to hear from him, as this is very important to me. She called back early Friday afternoon, and said that he was “gathering information”, and that he would call me early next week. OK.

Then Friday, we’re flying down to see our parents for our usual fly-by Christmas visit. Robin is staying with our neighbors Sharon and Gary, who have the two miniature poodles Jasmine and Lola. The three of them got along great at Thanksgiving (i.e., Robin, Jasmine, and Lola), although the two girls did sort of play together and sort of ignore Robin. I’m hoping that enforced together-time will be more fun for him – he and Jasmine loved to play together before Lola came along, so I think he really misses that.

Tomorrow we’re going to see little Emily Rose (and daddy Greg, too!) in The Nutcracker Suite. ER is going to be a Snowflake, and part of the Arabian dancers; Greg is going to be one of the Party Guests. I don’t think he has to dance, but he may be wearing leotards – no, probably not. I bet you couldn’t pay him to do that!

23
Nov
08

November 23, 2008

Well, I’m cruising along toward the finish on my radiation treatments – four more to go, and I’m very pleased about that. Even though they gave me a “skin break” on the overall irradiation, the area around the scar and towards my armpit where they did the boost is extremely red and quite sensitive. No blisters yet, so it is still considered a first-degree burn, and the aloe gel does help soothe it; but I have to keep applying it, and having fabric rub against the skin for any length of time irritates it badly. I’m back on the general irradiation treatment now, but hopefully this 2-day weekend break, and the 1-day Thanksgiving break will keep it from getting too much worse.

We met with the oncologist on Thursday, and I have the starting date for my chemo: January 9. I will be having the low-dose regimen, where I have chemo three weeks in a row, and one week off. The drug will be Taxol, but the twist is that he also wants to have me use Avastin. I asked him why, since Avastin is normally used for Stage IV (metastatic) cancer. The other use for it is “locally recurrent” cancer, which describes my version. The Avastin will be administered in the first and third weeks of each 4 week period. I will have 3 or 4 months-worth of treatments.

Now, you know me, I am obsessively inclined to research, well, everything. Avastin’s action is anti-angiogenesis, which in real language means that it blocks blood pathways from forming to feed a tumor.

What?

I don’t have a tumor, right? This time, they got it all, right?

Yes, at least if you can trust the pathology report. However, the oncologist said that there isn’t really a standard for treating my type of recurrence – because of its quick return and aggressive growth, the idea is to be as aggressive as possible in its treatment. Hence the radiation to treat the local area, and the chemo to make sure that any stray cancer cells that might have passed through a lymph node without pausing are killed off.

But I do want to talk to him again, because I’m not really sure that I understand just how the Avastin is going to work on any floating cells out there – if it’s floating around in either the lymph or blood, the Taxol is there to kill it; Avastin is targeted to tumors. Perhaps it is just a precaution in case there were microscopic cells parked somewhere that did not show up on my PET scan this summer; or perhaps it is just because I’ve defied the odds already.

Another concern I have about the Avastin is that it causes bleeding problems. Now, the oncologist may have believed he was communicating the risks clearly, and I think for the most part, he did. But just the day before I met with him, there was a study publicized that claims that the risk of blood clots for Avastin patients is 33% higher that in control group studies. Of course, Genentech challenged that conclusion; as who wouldn’t when they make obscene amounts of money off a cash cow like Avastin. And I’ve been told this previously, that cancer patients are “hypercoagulative”, meaning they tend towards clots anyway, due to the cancer. However, the researchers based their findings on differences in clotting episodes between patients given Avastin and control patients that were NOT given Avastin – presumably the control group also had cancer. 33% increase is more than a statistical anomaly, given that both sets of patients should have been at the normal hypercoagulative risk of cancer patients in general.

The problem for me is that I have a history of pulmonary embolism; indeed, that is why the oncologist wanted me to have my ovaries removed – so that I wouldn’t be taking Tamoxifen, which includes an increased risk of clotting.

So why, if that is such a concern at a relatively low risk with Tamoxifen (0.5% for a deep vein thrombosis (leg clot), and 0.3% for pulmonary embolism (lung clot)), isn’t it a concern with a higher risk from Avastin (the *smallest* risk number I can find so far is 14%, which is a 6% increase over the placebo patients)?

Now, I’m interested to note that the clot information that Avastin labeling documents refers to includes both venous and arterial thromboembolic events – so in addition to having an increased chance of DVT or PE, I also have to worry about stroke, TIA, and heart attacks (oh, but those risks are only 4.4%, a mere 2.5% increase over the placebo group. . .).

So I’m not convinced at this point that I want to take my chances with the Avastin. On the other hand, the idea that there could be a stealth tumor out there somewhere is a concern. The researcher cited in the San Francisco Chronicle article, Dr. Shenhong Wu, said “his findings are not a reason to avoid taking Avastin,” and that it was simply a warning for hypervigilance in relation to clot symptoms.

So there you go. Will the cancer get me, or the blood clot? Or will I sail through this as I sailed through the last (unsuccessful) treatment? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “As the Epidermis Burns”!

07
Jul
08

July 6, 2008

We had a lovely 4th of July – we went over to Sharon and Gary’s for dinner and cards – Robin, Jasmine, and Keeko were all a little bit worried over the sound of fireworks, but for the most part, they settled down when they saw that none of us humans were worried.

Brian and I spent the weekend working on house projects, cleaning the garage, gathering a load-and-a-half of stuff to take to Goodwill, and generally getting the house uncluttered. I had to clean all my beading stuff off the dining room table, and fortunately I had recently cleared out my yarn stash, so I had room to store it all (most of it, anyway) out of the way. That actually took nearly all weekend, because my brain seems to be so unfocused that I’d pick something up, carry it to the place it was getting put away, then I’d see something in that spot that needed taking care of, and deal with that, ad nauseum. We did cull our games closet, and also the linen closet, which has become a sort of personal products pantry. I got rid of some things that had been sitting around in there for years that were never used (curling iron, never used it then, don’t need it now!), and rearranged stuff into a more logical order. It also took a long time because I had to sit down and rest a lot.

The last couple weeks has been long – lots of waiting, still having excessive tiredness, and the same lung symptoms that have been bothering me since a couple weeks after I got over my cold.

I had my chest CT scan and the brain MRI on Tuesday the 24th. On the 26th, the triage nurse called to tell me the results.

The good news? There are no signs of metastasized cancer in my brain. The bad news? There is something on my pituitary gland that they wanted to get a better look at, so I needed to have a more hi-res MRI brain scan.

The other good news? No pulmonary embolisms. The other bad news? There are a couple enlarged lymph nodes in the middle of my chest that they wanted to get a better look at, so I needed to have a PET scan.

Had the PET scan Monday morning (the 30th), and the second MRI on Tuesday afternoon. I talked to the doctor on Thursday the 3rd, and I basically still don’t really know anything, and will have yet another medical procedure to go through.

The thing on my pituitary gland is a “cystic lesion, consistent with a benign arachnoid cyst”. That might explain why I’ve developed a serious gross-out factor about spiders the last few years. It used to be that I was only bothered by spiders that might be sneaking up on me – so crawling under the back deck was completely out of the question, because I was pretty sure there were spiders under there, and what if they dropped on me while I was under there? But now, I’m like “50s Girl”, I scream for the hubby to deal with any spider I see. He just rolls his eyes and squishes them – even squished they gross me out.

The likely outcome of this cyst is that unless I start developing neurological symptoms (such as seizures, peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in my extremities), headaches, neuralgia, or other indications that the cyst is growing or pressing on something critical), it will just sit there, wrapped around my pituitary gland, like Shelob in her lair.

The enlarged lymph nodes are of more concern. The PET scan showed that they were hot, or reactive. Basically, the radioactive sugar they inject you with will show areas with cells that have a high glucose uptake – which in my case means one of three things. The lymph nodes might be reacting to some sort of infection (so if I have bronchitis or walking pneumonia or something like that, they could be enlarged with infection-fighting cells of various kinds); they could be full of inflammatory cells; or they could be full of malignant cells.

The doctor doesn’t believe it is due to infection, since they’re almost twice as large as lymph nodes usually get under highly infectious conditions, and the relative mildness of my lung symptoms and little to no coughing imply that if I am fighting an infection like bronchitis or pneumonia, it is a very mild case.

At least some of my lung symptoms – the tightness and the shortness of breath upon activity, and pain that started this weekend, may be due to the lymph nodes pressing directly on the lungs, or on blood vessels that lead to the lungs, rather than anything actually in the lungs.

The only thing he mentioned in relation to the possibility of inflammatory cells being the cause of the enlargement is a disease called sarcoidosis. This is something that typically doesn’t require treatment unless you’re having severe symptoms (and looking at the Merck website, my symptoms do match some of the ones on the list, although I don’t know if they’d be considered severe). It usually goes away of its own accord, although it might take months or years.

He did not really focus on the possibility of cancer, although the location could be indicative of either Hodgkins Disease or some type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Probably not lung cancer, since they didn’t see anything in my lungs; and he says it is extremely unlikely that my lymph-node negative breast cancer could have spread, especially so soon after I finished chemotherapy.

He also says he is intrigued by my case, because now he’s starting to wonder if I really had pulmonary embolisms after all – maybe it was something relating to whatever is going on now with the lymph nodes. Of course, I was in denial about that anyway, so it’s easy to say that I never really believed I had pulmonary embolisms; but then, I didn’t have any good reason to believe I didn’t, just that I didn’t *want* to have them, so I tried to disbelieve them out of existence. Maybe it worked, too well.

So anyway, I get to have an endoscopic ultrasound biopsy – they’re going to sedate me and stick an endoscope down my esophagus, then poke a needle through into the lymph nodes. I don’t know yet when this is going to happen – I’d like to get it over with as soon as possible, of course.

21
Jun
08

June 20, 2008

Big news today is that I’m down 2.4 pounds since Monday the 9th – total down now is 24.6. I haven’t been this light since I was at PSU 4 years ago. It feels really good!

I decided that one possible cause of the fatigue was due to a change in my medications. The insurance company recently switched me over to the generic version of Zyrtec for my allergies when Zyrtec went over the counter – I thought maybe part of the problem was my allergies breaking through because the generic wasn’t working as well. I bought some Zyrtec the other day, and have been taking it instead of the generic, and so far, it doesn’t seem to have helped with the tiredness.

When I saw the oncologist for my quarterly check-up, he told me to check back in a week if I was still experiencing excessive fatigue. So I called him, and he decided I need to have another CT scan to check for pulmonary emboli, and then he added on a brain MRI.

So every time I’m sick, I have to worry that I’ve got cancer or another PE? That really annoys me! Of course, it annoys me more that my solution (changing my allergy meds) didn’t work – why couldn’t it be that simple? I asked him why I couldn’t just go to my primary care, and have her check me out for something fairly simple – but he feels that he needs to rule out “the big stuff” before I go that route.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I mean, usually when you start ruling out things, you check the easy stuff first – no, it’s not bronchitis; no, you just need new glasses; no, your ears are ringing because you were at a rock concert.

Until I got breast cancer, my doctors always assumed I had “small” stuff – if I had pain in my chest, it was due to overtaxed muscles; if I was coughing, it was a cold; if I had headaches, it was sinus problems or stress.

Now I don’t need to be a hypochondriac – my doctors are doing it for me.

Brian says, “Great, you’re outsourcing!”

09
Jun
08

June 9, 2008

Considering what a bad girl I was last week, it hardly seems fair that my weight went down. Only 0.6 pounds, but hey, down is down. I suspect that the long working hours, the short sleep, and the hauling of boxes, walking from event to event, and general busyness counterbalanced the fried foods; the cheeses and sauces; the pasta, breads, pastries, baked goods, and desserts; and the 1/2 Lemon Drop and one Hefeweizen. I also tried to eat small portions, so even though I had a lot of unhealthy things, I didn’t eat much of any one thing. At one meal, there were no vegetables other than artichoke poppers, spanikopita, and caesar salad drenched in dressing – so I grabbed some tomato wedges that were garnishing the salmon platter. So far, I don’t seem to be having any symptoms of salmonella.

The symposium went extremely well, and with only a couple hitches that were fairly easy to rectify. The early mornings were hard, but plenty of coffee got me through the day. By the end of the 3rd day, my feet were killing me, and wearing heels messed up my back a little bit, although it does seem to be recovering fairly quickly. Interestingly, I can’t remember having a single hot flash during the symposium – however, I was having them the night before, and I have had a couple since. Go figure.

I had my first quarterly exam with the oncologist today, and he seems pleased with how I’m doing. When I complained about being tired (after I’d already told him about the nasty cold and the very long hours), he responded (in a manner that bordered on snarkasm) that who wouldn’t be, after all that? However, he did check my blood oxygen level to confirm that I don’t have another pulmonary embolism (my cold symptoms were similar enough to PE symptoms that he just wanted to make sure); and I’d already had a thyroid blood test scheduled because I’d been complaining about being tired prior to the cold. My blood counts (both red and white) are normal, so I’m not anemic, and hopefully I should have the results back on the thyroid test in a couple days. Since I’m losing weight, I suspect that I’m not hypothyroid – my skin is definitely not dry, either, which seems contraindicative. Apparently a lot of people have few or no symptoms of hypothyroidism – and my older brother is hypothyroid, so it’s possible it runs in the family. Guess I’ll find out. . .

14
Apr
08

April 14, 2008

Friday was disappointing because my weight was up – only 0.6 pounds, but still. . .

Friday was great because we had beautiful weather, and I had to leave work early for a doctor appointment, so dang! I had to lower the convertible top. I hate it when that happens ;-}

Saturday was *hot*. I had to put the top down Saturday, too. Plus I went to a trunk show at Beads at Dusti Creek, and found some brilliant bargains, and have all sorts of new beading projects to work on. Dang.

Robin got a couple really good walks this weekend – on Saturday we went with the poodle and her mom to Bethany Lake park, and the only problem there was that it was firmly dusk coming back, so the gnats and mosquitoes were rising. We saw a miniature Australian Shepherd – I’d never heard of them before, and thought she was a puppy, but she was about three years old. Robin was intrigued, but didn’t stray from his poodle-love. On Sunday, we walked through the greenspace park north of our neighborhood (again with the poodle and her mom), and got to practice not freaking out on the busy street when cars come up from behind. We’re getting better about that ;-} Our next-door neighbor Arno, who’s around 5 or so, came over Sunday to ask if Robin could play, so they ran around the front yard, only it was hard to decide which one was chasing the other – I think they both thought they were in the lead.

I also power-washed part of the driveway – it is filthy, and had moss growing on it. It wasn’t too hard on my arms, but I realized too late that I was bending forward just slightly most of the time, and it made my back problems act up. I took an Epsom Salts bath when I came in from the yard, and I’ve been stretching and focusing on my core-strength exercises, trying to get it to clear up – I’ve also used an ice pack periodically. Unfortunately, I can’t take any anti-inflammatories, because of the blood thinner. I’ve got one month to go on that – I will be very happy to be done with the whole blood-clotting thing. But Brian gave me a nice massage last night, and that helped a lot. As long as I remember to get up and walk around periodically during the day at work, it seems to be maintaining, and not getting any worse.

Not much else to update – this was my second weekend after starting back to work, and I was not nearly as exhausted as I was on the first weekend. I still get tired, and my evenings after work consist of dinner and some reading, but I definitely see improvement in my stamina.

Interestingly, I don’t think I had a single hot flash today – either that, or I’m getting so used to them that I don’t notice them – nah, I definitely notice them!

My hair is really getting an attitude – it thinks it needs to be very curly, but it’s so short that it pokes out all over rather than laying flat. I don’t think I could get it to do this if I tried – oh, the wonders of chemotherapy! I see the plastic surgeon on Thursday for my 7-week check-up on the reconstruction. There’s still some swelling, but for the most part, I think he’s going to be ready to release me to doing whatever I feel like with lifting, etc., after one more week.

A reminder – there’s still time to join our walking team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event on May 10. We’d love to have you walk with us – the link takes you to my page where you can either sign up to walk with the team (you don’t have to be a coworker – all friends and family are welcome), donate online, or print out a form to mail a donation in. There have been several extremely generous donations, and in addition to making a donation, my employer, Schrodinger, is buying our team t-shirts for the employees who sign up to walk. I still feel a little overwhelmed by how many people are showing their support by either walking, donating, or both. Thank you all – and know that as well as my gratitude, you have the gratitude of those who benefit from the American Cancer Society’s research, even if they can’t thank you in person.

Julie

06
Apr
08

April 6, 2008

Well, it’s been a busy couple weeks since my last post.

Shortly after I posted on the 21st, I got a call that my little brother was in the hospital. I flew down to see him on Easter (after having a wonderful Easter lunch with Sharon and Gary and their family). Brian couldn’t go due to a major project he’s working on for a client, so he dropped me off at the airport with a stern injunction to NOT PICK UP my own suitcase. When I checked the bag, they weighed it in at 25 pounds – everyone I asked for help was very kind about picking it up for me – I felt guilty about just asking people, because I look very healthy (and of course, I *am* very healthy, with the caveat that overdoing the lifting could make me *unhealthy*), so I felt compelled to explain about having recently had surgery, can’t lift more than 10 pounds, etc. Apparently Brian had called his mother (with whom I was staying, rather than getting a hotel), and told her I wasn’t allowed to lift my bag, so she came out to the rental car when I arrived, and my little 83 year old mother-in-law unloaded my suitcase for me. How’s that for embarrassing?

Tim was discharged from the hospital on  the Monday after Easter, and because he was at a hospital quite a distance from his house, and they are on tight funds, I gave him a ride home. I got to briefly see my nephews and niece – they’re all so big! The oldest son still at home will turn 17 in May, and he was the only one to really recognize me – with so little hair, and since it’s been quite a while since we’ve been to visit, the younger kids had a hard time reconciling this aunt with the one that had longer hair.

I had scheduled my trip to fly home on Wednesday, because I didn’t know when Tim was going to be discharged, so I ended up having a free Tuesday to spend with Brian’s mom. At that time, I was still sleeping in the recliner at home, since my arm range of motion wouldn’t allow me to sleep with my arm in the right position to sleep in the bed – I can’t sleep on my back in bed, only on my sides – so I was sleeping in one of her recliners. We seemed to be on the same sleeping schedule, and stayed up late and slept in late on Tuesday. Then I took her shopping for some craft items she needed (she isn’t driving since her accident in November), and then we met Dani, one of my sister-in-laws on Brian’s side, for lunch. Had dinner with a group of Shirlie’s friends, and then we all played Mexican Train dominoes after.

Wednesday I flew home from Sacramento, and spent the next four days recovering from the trip. As I’ve learned, I can push as hard as I need to, but the payment comes due eventually.

This past Monday, I started back to work. I had to hit the ground running, because we’re just getting into a very busy time. With 800+ e-mails to look through, I spent Monday going through them (fortunately, most of them were either informational or ones that didn’t require action on my part), and got started dealing with the ones that *did* need my attention. The rest of the week, I was focused on getting literature and other items printed and ready to ship to our first big event of the tradeshow season. Friday afternoon I got everything packed (I didn’t pick up any of the boxes, because I’m still on the 10-pound-or-less lifting restriction) and discovered that even without lifting or even pushing the boxes around, just using the tape-gun to seal the packages was hard on me – I didn’t damage anything, but I definitely experienced some pain once I was back at my desk that afternoon.

Brian and I went out to dinner and a show on the 4th to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary (actual anniversary date = 3/29) – McCormick & Schmick’s on 1st Avenue (*wonderful* halibut with pomegranate molasses – mmm), then on to Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo”. Sharon and Gary met us there, and the show was fabulous! Of course, we’ve never been to a Cirque du Soleil show that wasn’t.

This weekend I’m totally wiped out – again, I am paying for pushing myself this past week – I had thought I might start back around 3/4-time to work, but discovered that not only did I need to work full-time due to the deadline for this tradeshow, but I also had to work extra hours just to get it done. Frankly, I’m happy to be back to work, and to be able to do my job – and I’d much rather be busy than not. But I can hardly wait until I’ve recouped enough of my normal level of health that I don’t have to spend the weekend just recovering from work. When I was younger, work used to be a way of recovering from the weekend!

After my trip to California, I weighed in on the 28th, and my weight was up 0.6 pounds. It is really hard to eat well when you’re traveling. Mostly due to the fact that you don’t always have the choice of healthy restaurants, or healthy menu items to choose from; and if someone is cooking for you, unless they’re also on-plan, they don’t know how to accommodate on-plan needs. All in all, considering that I’d also had a big Easter meal that week, I was surprised at only being up by 0.6 pounds over the previous week, although I’d hoped to be able to hold steady. This week I weighed in down 1.2 pounds, which brings my total loss so far to 13 pounds. Only 5 more pounds to go to meet my first mini-goal!

I’m in the market for another fan – the one I have been using has now broken in two places (I play with it too much when I’m not actually using it). Where does one buy these things? I have no idea – probably not in the clothes department, but maybe in the toy department? Or maybe I have to go to some place like Cost Plus (what are they called now, World Market?) or Pier 1. The hot flashes are bearable, although I would say they’re getting a little more intense than they used to be. I can usually feel them coming on, with a feeling that my face is flushing, and if I take my hat off (assuming I have one on), that is often enough to fend one off. If one is coming on when my head is bare, fanning myself seems to shorten the duration. I definitely think caffeine is one of my triggers, but there are just some things that one can’t give up and still be able to function.

There are a couple people I want to share news about – one of my friends from support group, Penny, just had surgery on the 31st, and is in the hospital recovering.  The surgery was a long one, but the doctors believe they got everything they were in after, and even took less than they thought they might have to.  Love and healing thoughts to Penny!

My physical therapist had a surprise double-bypass surgery a couple weeks ago – he is young and healthy, and had no idea he had trouble brewing in his arteries.  He is recovering well, and says that he can’t even lift as much as I can – when they crack your sternum and ribs, the weight limit is 5 pounds.  So, Tony, keep on healing, and maybe by the time we’re both released to normal activity, I’ll be able to outlift you for a week or so!

I had a bone density scan last week, of which I am awaiting the results – before the scan the technician asked what my height was, and I told her 5’3″.  She then measured me, and I came out as 5’2″.  I looked at my driver’s license after the scan, and it definitely says 5’3″.  Of course, that was from back in 1988, but I would be surprised if I really did lose 1″ of height.  As I recall, I was actually about 5′ 2-1/2″, but that it got rounded up.  Still, that would mean that I’ve lost 1/2″ of height sometime in the last . . . 20 years . . . well, when you put it like that, I guess maybe I can believe that.  I don’t know how often they’ll do a scan to compare to this base-line – the Femara has the possibility of causing bone density loss, but then, so does menopause in general.  Exercise helps, so I’m trying to get serious about a daily routine.

With my hair growing in, and only taking a daily hormone pill for the next five years, and being back to work on a full-time basis, I’m starting to feel as if life is finally getting back to normal.  Once I’m off the blood thinner, I will be as free of the medical establishment as possible as regular quarterly visits to the oncologist allows.

Whoo-hoo!

17
Mar
08

March 17, 2008

Today I’m tired, and depressed.  It’s going to take more than a green beer to cheer me up.

Even though I know that I should expect some emotional fallout from just having had surgery, and potential mood swings from entering menopause, I am just tired of dealing with cancer, of dealing with the “necessary” mutilations done to my body, and of dealing with having to go through recovery from surgery once again.  I’m angry at having to be afraid of getting another pulmonary embolism, one that might be less survivable than the last ones.  I’m frustrated at having to take all this time off work, with *none* of it being vacation, and all of it stuck at home.  I’m hurt at friends who don’t call, or e-mail, or visit; and annoyed at people who feel as if I should be calling them long distance because I’ve got all kinds of time on my hands and they are important enough to warrant a personal report on how I’m doing, without considering that I haven’t had more than half a paycheck coming in since September.  I’m sad because my hair will grow back, but my breasts won’t; and devastated at what I consider to be the awful results of the reconstruction.  I feel guilty for not having the dna testing that would tell us if my family carries the breast cancer gene markers; and worried because the extensive family history seems pretty clearly indicative that it does.  I’m grumpy about not being able to sleep at night.  I’m afraid that I won’t be insurable in the future, and I’m not even fifty yet.

However, I am grateful for the friends and family who do call, e-mail, and visit, and most importantly, care; for the fact that I was very fortunate to catch the cancer early; for the fact that I survived a pulmonary embolism in each lung, in spite of being misdiagnosed at first; for being able to take as much time off as I have and still being able to meet our mortgage payment and other important bills; and for not yet being fifty.

I’ll get over the depression, and one of these days I won’t be tired out, I’ll get back to being able to sleep at night, and will even have times when I do not think about what I’ve had to do to my body to survive, because I won’t have constant reminders of pain and discomfort that force my attention to my scars and my misshapen form.

15
Mar
08

March 15, 2008

Saw the ovary surgeon yesterday, and she says everything looks good, and I can start getting the scars wet now – there’s still quite a bit of crust on them, mostly held in place by the surgical glue they use to hold the outside of the scar together, and although it might bleed a little bit as it comes off, it’s now fair game. I have to be sure to watch how much bleeding they do, though, since I’m still on the blood thinner. She also says that I can start some very light exercises that use my abdominal muscles, but very few repeats to start with, and work my way up very slowly, stopping if there is any pain. The bruising and damage to the tissues tends to be exacerbated by the blood thinner, so it will take me longer to heal than it otherwise might have. I still have external bruises from the blood thinner injections that I was getting before the surgery, and it’s been around three weeks for those, with at least another week to go before they’re gone – she indicated that the internal “damage” from the operation will take at least as long to heal.

My digestion finally seems to be nearly back to normal – still a couple blips here and there, but for the most part, I seem to have gotten past the surgery/drug-induced difficulties. I haven’t had to take any pain pills for the last couple days – I do still get isolated pains, and when I swallowed some juice wrong, had a coughing spell that was very uncomfortable during, but the pain faded pretty quickly after.

I see the plastic surgeon again later next week, but I confirmed yesterday that I can now get the scars wet – I can’t shower on the front side, because the water drumming against the tissue can cause swelling, but I can let the water run over my shoulders from behind. I can also start doing a little bit more with my arms (not too much, because swelling is definitely a concern; plus still no pushing, pulling, lifting anything over 10 lbs, or too much repetitive motion), and they even said I can drive if I feel comfortable, even though I have a manual transmission. More than anything, I suspect that what will drive my driving is how tired I get. Brian drove my to my support group meeting on Thursday morning – I hadn’t been for a couple months because it interferes with work hours, so I hadn’t seen anyone there for a while. After the meeting, we had a little lunch at the hospital cafeteria, and my friend Sue drove me home, with a short stop at the grocery store to pick up some half-and-half. After she dropped me at home, I basically just collapsed in my chair and after watching an episode of Stargate SG1, slept for two-and-a-half hours. And Friday, I rode downtown with Brian because I wanted to go to my Weight Watchers meeting – hadn’t weighed in for the previous 2 weeks, and I didn’t want to miss another one. However, Brian had an early meeting to go to, so I ended up waiting in the Borders bookstore cafe for a couple hours (bought some books and had some tea, so I was mostly sitting down the whole time). From there I walked over to Pioneer Place and the meeting (down 5.8 lbs for 3 weeks – whoo-hoo!), and then met Brian back at the car. Then we drove to the follow-up appointment, and it was while I was sitting in the warm, not-so-comfy exam room that I realized how tired I was – from walking a total of about 2-1/2 or 3 blocks and otherwise mostly sitting down all morning. When we got home, I slept for three hours, even with Robin going nuts when Brian came back from a client site, and the phone and doorbell ringing. So I still don’t have a lot of energy to spare, and the doctor said no matter how healthy you look on the outside, it just takes a certain amount of time for the body to recuperate. Another two weeks should have me ready to start back at work at the very least half-time, probably more – she said it would be a mistake to push too hard and have a set-back.

At any rate, I’m taking it very easy – watching a movie or two, some Stargate episodes, lots of reading and napping. Poor Robin is happy to have me at home, but disappointed that it involves so much sitting around. He thinks I should be able to chase him around the back yard, or at least play rope with him. Augie the Dorkie and his mom came for a visit on Tuesday, and the two boys entertained themselves while Cathy and I visited. I still can’t knit or bead or anything, but hopefully soon.

Oh yeah – the ovary surgeon said that it would only be about 24 hours after the surgery until the estrogen built up in my body dissipated, so that I would start experiencing whatever symptoms of menopause I’m going to have very quickly (i.e., as of now, I’m probably at the worst it’s going to get). Basically, I do have my hot ‘flashes’, and sometimes more of them than other times – I haven’t yet had a chance to identify triggers – but they’ve been very controllable by removing my hat or scarf, and at night pushing back the covers if necessary. I also dug up a little hand fan, which helps when I’m in a situation where I can’t remove any more clothing. Definitely layering is in my future ;-} She thinks I might experience a little bit more once I start taking the aromatase inhibitor (Sunday). Hopefully it won’t be too bad.

Even after sleeping in this morning, I think I’m ready for a nap. Cheers!

Julie

08
Mar
08

March 8, 2008

Ouch.

Do you know what happens when you are startled, say, when someone sneaks up behind you and touches you, or when you’re playing a computer role-playing game, and the bad guy jumps out in front of you unexpectedly?

You jump.

But do you know the specifics? Your pelvic floor tightens and jerks upward, your abdominal muscles tighten and pull inwards, and not only that, but quite probably, if you’re sitting down, you involuntarily push yourself upwards in a flight response, however aborted.

Ouch.

I had thought that, in spite of the ongoing pain as the usual bowel function has been restoring itself, I was starting to really improve, and that the abused muscles and tissues were starting to reach normal levels of usage without too much pain.

What the above reaction showed me is that in fact, I’m still babying my body, and with very good reason. I started paying attention, and I noticed that I still move very slowly, and initially I walk hunched over my abdomen slightly and straighten up only after several steps. I’m still resting against the backs of chairs when I sit down, although normally, I typically sit forward. Trying to stay upright on the exam table requires a lot more effort from one’s abdominal muscles that I realized. Bending over, I’m using lots of support from my arms, which is OK as long as I don’t push down, or put a lot of weight on the arms (or move them very far in any direction). When you just have laparoscopic surgery, you depend on your arm and chest muscles to compensate for not being able to use your abdominals. When you have breast surgery, you depend on your abdominal muscles to compensate for not being able to use your arms or your chest muscles. When you’ve had both. . .

So no scary movies for me for another week at least.

Weight-wise, I’ve actually dropped four pounds in two weeks, mostly because I haven’t been eating a lot. I’m generally back to normal foods, but my appetite is feeling pretty reduced.

We met with the plastic surgeon on Thursday – he’s pleased with the general results, although I think he agrees that the right side is currently not looking the way *I* want it to look (it may look fine to him, as far as being a surgeon goes, but aesthetically, I’m not happy because it still bulges too much to the side and is still fairly flat on top). Of course, there’s swelling, and so it’s hard to tell what it’s going to look like in the long run – before I freak out and start demanding that it be put “right”, I’m going to control myself and wait to see what it looks like once it is declared healed. The left side looks pretty good – still bulges a little to the side, but it’s more rounded and evenly proportioned. I have to do nothing with my arms for another week, and have another appointment in two weeks.

My ovary surgeon is in Maui for ten days (I hadn’t realized that I’d forced her to do a major operation the day before she was leaving for vacation, but it explains the hesitation her scheduler had about the 29th, and also why in the face of the hesitation she didn’t suggest moving to the next week). I’ve had some difficulty getting the pain medication and the stool softener dosages correlated properly – Brian and I call it the Porridge Paradigm, and decided that the point is searching for the Goldilocks Effect. You know the story – this porridge is too hot, this porridge is too cold, this porridge is just right; this bed is too hard, this bed is too soft, this bed is just right – substitute stool for bed, and you’ve got the point. However, I’ve managed to reduce the pain pills to roughly 1/4 – 1/3 the maximum dosage I was taking (although I bumped that up briefly after the little “dungeon exploring accident”). My follow-up with her is in a week.

I also met with the oncologist for the first time since my last chemo in December. Now that I’m post-menopausal, he wants me to start my aromatase inhibitor, and we’ve settled on the particular one (Letrozole, brand name: Femara – don’t you love these drug brand names? This ones sounds so feminine yet mature. . .). He gave me a month’s sample to get me started. I’m planning on starting it on the 16th (he doesn’t know that – I decided that after I’d gotten home from a long tiring afternoon). But I don’t think my body is quite ready for a major influence change this close to having had surgery – I’m going to give it another week to heal, and to shake out the new status of being a (mostly) estrogen-free state (not quite like Jefferson Free State, but we no longer owe those annoying hormonal taxes). I haven’t had a lot of reaction yet to the lack of estrogen – as I mentioned in my previous post, I had started sleeping warm again, and that is continuing; however, I am starting to have hot spells during the day (they don’t really “flash” – that makes it sound as if you are just all of a sudden sweating and way too hot – mine creep up on me, and if I ignore them they will kind of “flash”, but if I take care of it as I feel it coming on, by removing my hat or scarf, it’s usually just fine). I asked the oncologist how quickly one should expect the estrogen to be gone after surgically removing the main source, thus triggering official menopause, and he admitted that he doesn’t know. I’ve tried to find it on the ‘net, and haven’t found anything that really specifies that particular information. Should I be searching for “estrogen half-life” or something? I guess if I don’t know what my base level of estrogen was to begin with, knowing the half-life wouldn’t really be any help.

So that’s how it’s going for now – mostly not too bad as long as nothing sneaks up on me.

04
Mar
08

March 4, 2007

Hi y’all –

Thank you, everyone, for the cards, calls, flowers, and visits! I am doing pretty well, for the most part. I had a lot of pain on Saturday while I was still at the hospital, but Sunday and Monday I had cut way down on the pain pills because I wasn’t having a lot of problems.

Sunday evening the waited-for event, some indication that my bowels were coming back online, made itself known, and I celebrated by reducing the pain pills even further. It all started to seem pretty normal, but then Monday evening, I hit a snag. Rather than constipation relieved by the stool softeners, I started having diarrhea, which I suspected was being exacerbated by the stool softeners because I’d reduced the amount of oxycodone, but not the colace. Suddenly, there wasn’t as much need to soften things, but it was still working on it. I also developed a mild fever of 100.4 degrees, which is verboten after surgery. Since it was midnight by the time I took my temperature, I didn’t call the doctor, and planned to call them this morning at 8:00, after having taken my temperature again so I could give them an accurate update. I also bumped the oxycodone dose back up, both because I was starting to feel a lot more pain, but also because I thought it had acetaminophen in it to help control the fever. Apparently I was wrong about that, but it certainly helped with the pain.

By this morning, my temp was back down to normal (which for me is typically right around 98 degrees).  The surgeon’s advice nurse said to call if my temp went back up, but otherwise I could just take some immodium for the diarrhea.

So far I haven’t had any indications that I’ve entered menopause, and have even been chilled, rather than too warm. Finally, last night while I was snatching cat-naps between cramps, I started sleeping hot again for the first time since my surgery (something I’ve done for many, many years). I had to strip the blankets off, take off my hat, remove my sweater, and pull my neck scarf off – all items I’d been too cold to go without since I got home from the hospital. Even though I started out by putting everything back on, I just kept having to remove it all again, so I ended up wrapping the scarf around my shoulders and pulling up one blanket.

I haven’t been focusing on eating all my points for Weight Watchers, mostly because it has been a bit of a struggle to eat much of anything.  I do get hungry, but it doesn’t take much to satisfy the hunger, and so I haven’t been worried that I’m overeating.  I probably am undereating, which is just as bad, but I had planned on taking one to two weeks break, and am hoping that at the least I will maintain my previous weight loss, and if I’m lucky lose some more, rather than putting on anything.  As of this morning, I’m at about the same weight I was at my last official weigh in.

The laparoscopic scars are small, and although I’m sure there are stitches inside, the outside was only sealed with glue.  As I’ve had to clean spots to give myself my Lovanox injections, I clean off the iodine – there are gleaming white patches amidst the jaundice-yellow overall tone of my skin currently.  I haven’t seen the scars for the reconstruction yet – my first post-surgery follow-up appointment is Thursday, and I can’t change the dressing or shower until then.  Fortunately my hair is so short that I don’t have to worry about trying to keep it clean – also, I still haven’t gone back to my excessively oily skin and hair that I had prior to chemo.  I’m hoping that part is a permanent change.

I’m about due for my next dose of pain pills, and am going to have a mug of boullion then lay down again.  I haven’t had a lot of focus so far, yet it’s so much better than the previous surgery – I can read, and although I don’t read much at a time, I *remember* what I’ve read so I can be right back into it when I pick up the book again.

Poor Robin is resigned to my being boring again – he follows me everywhere (I am still getting up and pacing around the house periodically), and collapses at the foot of my chair if I don’t get the foot elevated right away.  Sigh.

Julie

02
Feb
08

February 2, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day!

We’re not the least surprised here in Portland to know that P. Phil saw his shadow – the clouds, wind, and rain definitely look as if they’re here to stay. It’s actually rather comforting weather for me, as it reminds me of all the road trips that we took when I was a child – driving in the rain in Oregon seems natural because we did it so often. My one regret about the cold and rain is that I haven’t been able to drive with my convertible top down since before my surgery last year.

Next weekend we’re traveling to Newport for a couple nights, because I really want to get out of the house – this will be my first excursion away from Portland since early September. Between surgery, chemo, work, and facing another surgery, if we don’t go now, it’ll probably be late April or more likely May before we’re able to get away. Robin isn’t able to come, although he would love it, since he loves the beach; but he gets to stay with his friend Jasmine, so he may not even notice we’re gone.

Some of my coworkers have done a really wonderful thing – the American Cancer Society holds a walk every year to raise money for breast cancer research. Jenny, along with Lynnette and Shi-Yi, decided to set up a team in my name, called “Supporting Julie”. It is impossible to describe in words how honored and touched I feel. The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is on May 10, 2008, starting at 9:00 a.m., but the starting location is not determined yet. For anyone who is interested in joining the team to walk with us, or in making a donation in our team’s name, follow this link: SupportingJulie. If you want more information about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, here is a link to the main page: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. I will be walking in memory of mom, and in honor of my aunt, two of my cousins, and a friend.

My surgery date has now been confirmed – it*is* going to be February 29th, at 7:30 a.m. That means that I have to be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. – since I’m going to be asleep most of the day, it won’t matter much to me, but poor Brian! The nice thing for me is that my previous surgery was scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and I couldn’t eat or drink after midnight – for this surgery, the cut-off is still midnight, so I don’t have to suffer through all those hours of thirst and hunger. The surgery(s) are expected to take up to 5 hours between them, and then, of course, it’s usually an hour or more in recovery before they take you up to a room. So for me, the day will be pretty short; Brian’s day is going to be pretty long.

Tonight we’re going out to dinner with some friends, so I have the challenge of being able to find something to eat that won’t totally gobble up all my points for the week. I’ve had a light breakfast and lunch, so I should be able to splurge a little bit – it’s the point where I have to make the responsible decision of ordering something sensible rather than a burger and fries; or fish and chips; or the creamy, cheesy, most fat-laden dish on the menu that is the hard part. Especially in this weather, hot food rather than a salad seems necessary, so I have to try to come up with something grilled or baked. We’re going to the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse (a McMenamin’s pub), so that seems pretty unlikely. Also, I will need to restrain myself from my usual pint of Ruby mixed with hard cider that goes down so well. Or maybe I’ll just have that and skip the meal altogether ;-} Well, not really, but having one might make the idea of a salad much more palatable. . . My weigh-in this week was disappointing, but at least my weight went down, even if only by a fraction of a pound. I don’t want to blow it now, when surely, by following the plan religiously, sooner or later it will start showing. I’ve tried very hard to account for everything I eat, and make overestimates of how much I take in situations where I can’t measure it exactly. I try to comfort myself with the thought that working out in physical therapy is building muscle tissue, which weighs more than the fat. I try not to use up my Activity points, although I definitely did this week, between work’s Winter Party and the beading group night.

My next beading group night is the night before my surgery – I definitely plan on going, because it is now a tradition that I go to some sort of crafting group or class the night before surgery. Last time, it was a quilting class. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue the class due to recovery taking longer than I expected. So I planned on taking the class this spring when it was offered again. Guess what? The first session of the class is the week after I have my latest surgery. If I were paranoid, I’d say it was a conspiracy to stop me from taking the class – Brian, did you call the teacher and bribe her into moving it?

I’ve been reading a lot this winter. Mostly I’ve been in the mood for light stuff, so I’ve been re-reading the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I also have read a lot of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman – not that it is light reading at all, but it is very compelling, and an incredible graphic novel series (comic books for adults). Even with getting back to work, I’ve been reading a lot – historically my average is about 13 books per month, and I read 21 books in January.

BTW, I haven’t noticed any hair growing yet. They say it takes 4 – 6 weeks for hair growth to restart after chemo, and it has now been 5 weeks. I still have the usual crop of stubble, but it’s not getting any longer, nor is it filling in areas where there hasn’t been any hair. I keep meaning to get some pictures of me bald, and we just haven’t done it. Maybe today.

Julie




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