Archive for the 'recovery' Category

12
Jul
09

Long time, no post

About three weeks ago I was talking to one of my friends at work, who said “You know, you *sound* like you feel better.” I realized at that point that I *did* feel better – and had for at least a week or so. I’m working full-time, and actually have energy when I get home to do stuff besides sit and read – and except for a migraine¬† this past Friday, have been feeling pretty darn close to normal.

We had friends visiting for the Fourth of July weekend, and we had fun, although I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to. We had the hottest weather of the year so far that weekend, and I don’t do well with heat. I used to live in Livermore, CA, where it would stay in the 90s to low100s for weeks at a time; and I worked outdoors at a dog kennel to boot. Never had a problem with the heat. A few years after I moved to Portland, I started getting sick if I spent much time in heat over about 85 degrees. I get a headache that feels like a migraine, nausea, and lightheadedness. If I don’t get somewhere cool fairly quickly, I actually get worse than nausea, and start vomiting.

Of course, our main plan for the weekend of the fourth involved going to the Waterfront Blues Festival. We got to the festival on the afternoon of the 3rd, and I was only able to stay for a bit longer than an hour. Brian ended up taking me home and driving back down while Matt and Nancy stayed and danced Zydeco. Saturday I didn’t even try going – there was just no way I was going to be able to enjoy it, and we’d bought tickets for one of the Blues Cruises on the Portland Spirit – I just pictured being stuck on the boat, sick, for 2 or 3 hours, and decided that I didn’t want to subject them or myself to that. So I spent the day and evening at home, and tried to get Robin to woofle whenever he heard fireworks – that worked for the first hour or so, and then he spent the rest of the time under my feet.

Sunday was considerably cooler, just mid-80s, so we went down to the Saturday Market and wandered around. After a couple hours of that, it started getting too warm again, so I cruised on up to Powell’s City of Books, where Brian, Matt, and Nancy were going to meet me when they were done at the Market. On my way up, I noticed that my back was starting to hurt – I haven’t had problems with it for quite a while, but I couldn’t come up with anything I’d done specifically to set it off. Once I got to Powell’s, I broke my book-stash-diet – there were several sequels to books I had read that I just *had* to have. Matt and Brian sat in the cafe while Nancy spent her time in the Drama section, and I was in there looking at graphic novels. We all met an hour later to check out, and drove on up to NW 23rd to wander around. We walked on down to Marrakesh, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner, although I learned that my body hasn’t completely recovered, because I was stiff and sore. I’m pretty sure that didn’t help my back any.

This past week, my back has been bothering me, mostly both sides of my lower back. It would stiffen up and be painful after sitting at my desk or in my recliner in the evening, but it seemed to be clearing up slowly. Thursday morning, I got up at 6 a.m. to go pee, and it seemed to be completely fine. When I got up at 8 a.m., my right-side lower back screamed at me, spasming so badly I could hardly walk. As of today, it’s down to about a 3 on the pain scale, from around a 7, and I’m trying to move around a lot, so that I don’t spend too much time sitting in any one position.

In some ways, I’m pleased to have this kind of problem, instead of being inundated with poisons, or recovering from surgery or chemo. It seems pretty normal.

14
Jun
09

The Bridge Over the River Exhaustion

I finished my second week of full-time work on Friday, and although I was tired, I wasn’t totally wiped out. Slowly I’m starting to build some stamina. I am trying to park farther from work, so that I have to walk farther; and I’ve been having to do some physical stuff at work – moving boxes and stuff in preparation for shipping to events. But come Saturday, I don’t have much energy, so again this weekend I have spent a lot of time reading.

One of the ways to work a dog to exhaustion is to make him think – we find that if we start training Robin to do some new trick, and spend enough time at it at any one time, he is as tired as if we took him on a long walk.

We had dinner with Sharon and Gary Saturday night, and then they started teaching us how to play Bridge. Taking tricks is nothing – all the important (and confusing) part happens before you ever lay a card on the table. By the time we’d played 5 hands, I was so tired that I totally forgot the conception of a trump card, and was playing as if I was playing Hearts. Fortunately, Gary (my partner) was not only kind, but forgiving also ;-}

This afternoon, Robin was in dire need of a walk. So I girded my, um, feet, and we walked around the block. I’ve measured it in the car, and it is 1/4 mile. Having thought ahead a bit, I headed downhill to start, because then I was walking uphill on the middle of the walk, and downhill again on the way back home. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I made it all the way around. Once we got back in the door, I collapsed into my recliner and just lay there for about 45 minutes.

I really need to start getting out with him every day, the way I used to – *both* of us need it. I also need to start working on some strength exercises. There’s a balance between pushing to get myself back to being relatively fit and overdoing it; so far, I haven’t been pushing at all, because it has been such a struggle just to be able to get back into work. Now that I’m back to full-time, and as it levels off to being normal, and not such an effort, I am going to start adding in the exercising a bit at a time. It’s really tempting to start by just doing everything I used to do, but I actually recognize (without having to have a doctor tell me) that I’m not ready for that yet. Patience isn’t really one of my virtues, but I’m working on it, and trying not to let patience be an excuse for total sloth.

It doesn’t help that I’m still having trouble sleeping – I find that I am getting somewhere between 4 and 6 hours a night. I really try to get to bed earlier, but I have trouble falling asleep, so I’ll get up and read a chapter until I feel tired again; then I lie awake trying not to think about not falling asleep; eventually I do sleep, but it’s very broken. I have been having very interesting dreams, though. Guess I’m making up for the lack of sleep by trying to make what sleep I do get worthwhile. Recently I’ve been dreaming about a book I was reading; and last night I dreamt about Robin, and about Brian and work, too. It’ll probably be the only time I ever see Robin go swimming.

07
Jun
09

Foreign Objects and Me

The surgery to have the chemo port removed was very quick – indeed, we spent more time between when my appointment was scheduled and when it actually started (1 hour) than we did undergoing the surgery (20 minutes, including changing into/out of the gown).

The numbing agent was just injected, and the surgeon started cutting before it had completely taken effect – it was very quick to get me numb (30 to 45 *seconds*), but she was quicker still. The first thing she did was cut out the old scar (it was very thick and red from having been cut open 3 times already – 2 ports in, 1 port out), and she told me that this would help keep it “pretty.” Considering the number and size of scars on my chest, and my displeasure about the appearance of my right-side implant, I can’t say that I think this is really going to make things prettier.

After the numbing agent kicked in fully, all I could feel was tugging, and I didn’t feel the tubing being dragged out of the vein at all. A few stitches, steri-strips, a cotton gauze pad, and some tegaderm later, I was dressed and Brian was driving me to Dairy Queen for the obligatory Heath Bar Blizzard after a medical procedure.

Friday afternoon the numbing agent seemed to be still working, because I didn’t really feel much at all. As the evening wore on, the pain grew, and it looked like quite a bit of blood had leaked. The pain kept me awake a long time that night. I was using ibuprofen because it seems to help the most with pain for me, but it wasn’t enough to let me sleep. Eventually out of sheer exhaustion I did fall asleep around 3:30 a.m. Saturday day was much the same painwise, until later in the afternoon it faded considerably. That evening and night, though it got bad again. So far today, it’s been pretty mild – I can take the tegaderm and cotton gauze off this evening, so we’ll see if that helps.

So the number of foreign objects in my body has now been reduced by 1/3.

03
Jun
09

I’m being deported on Friday

I reminded Brian that my appointment with the surgeon to have my chemo port removed is on Friday afternoon, and he said, “Oh, you’re being deported.”

This time, perhaps because the port went into the same place and there was scar tissue built up, I haven’t noticed it too much. The first time, it was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t lie on my right side at all for most of the time I had it in.

Also, last time, after I was done with the chemo, I couldn’t just have the port taken out in the usual office procedure – I was on warfarin at the time, so the surgeon would only do it in an operating room. So I ended up having it removed when I had my reconstruction/ovary-removal surgery.

For some reason, I’m a little nervous about having it removed in office, and totally concious – but lots of people do, so I’m sure it’s not a big deal. It just seems as if, when you’re taking something out of one of the major veins, that it *should* be a big deal. Even knowing that they do angiograms and other procedures where a vein or artery is entered under non-operating-room conditions doesn’t really make me less nervous.

I faced major surgeries with less nervousness, so I’m not sure why this bugs me. On one hand, I’m looking forward to getting rid of it, because it is nearly the last thing related to having cancer that I still have to deal with – the other thing being the anti-hormonal pill that I have to take for the next five years (and the quarterly follow-ups with the oncologist, and the yearly bone-density scans, and the – oh, never mind). On the other hand, I think there’s a superstitious part of me that is afraid that shortly after it’s removed, I’ll find out I have cancer again. It was only three months between the port being removed and finding the lump this last time – but then, it was only three months between my reconstruction surgery and finding the lump; three months between having my ovaries removed and finding the lump; three months from starting the anti-hormonal treatment to finding the lump.

But I could also say: it was three months between flying down to visit my mother-in-law and finding the lump; three months between having my first bone density scan and finding the lump; three months from our eleventh anniversary to finding the lump.

Intellectually, I know all of these things are unrelated to getting cancer – that doesn’t stop me from having irrational fears.

25
May
09

Crawling out from under

In this case, out from under the weight of chemo and its side effects.

Because of the pneumonia on top of the chemo, and how wiped out I was, I ended up taking 5 weeks off work, basically all of April plus a little bit of March and May. I spent a good portion of that time sleeping, and pretty much didn’t leave the house at all. Brian ran any errands that needed to be run, and I read when I wasn’t sleeping. Hooray for online grocery shopping with home delivery, and for Dinners Ready!

Back before I got pneumonia for the second time, Brian and I had planned a celebratory trip to the coast for the beginning of May – we hadn’t been able to properly celebrate Valentine’s Day, our 12th anniversary in March, or my birthday in April; and we wanted to celebrate the end of my cancer treatment. So we made reservations for three nights in Cannon Beach, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of May, at the Tolovana Inn, just two weeks after I had my last chemo treatment.

On the 1st, we packed up ourselves and Robin and headed to the coast. We had lunch at Camp 18, and checked into the Inn around 2:30. Our room was on the third floor, and so Robin had his first experience with an elevator. He was fascinated by the opening door, cocking his head, and stretching his neck to get a look at the inside. He walked in with no hesitation and sat down on command, but when the door started to close, it rattled and clanked and freaked him out so that he tried to back away from it as far as possible. The movement of the elevator itself didn’t seem to bother him, and by the end of the weekend, after we started rewarding him with treats for sitting and staying sat while the door was closing, he got over his worry and was perfectly fine with it. The noises of the elevator moving and the pings at each floor made him tilt his head in interest, so all in all, his first experience riding an elevator turned out to be a positive one.

Our room didn’t have a bedroom, it had a murphy bed in between the kitchenette and the living room. It was pretty comfortable, but I kept stubbing my toes on it when it was down.

We didn’t do huge amounts of stuff, because even though I was starting to feel better and the chemo side effects were diminishing, I was still pretty much a lump of pain and exhaustion, only with brief spurts of energy. Happily, my sense of taste and smell were well on the way to getting back to normal, so our meals were enjoyable even though I didn’t have much appetite. Each day we took Robin down to the beach to let him run around – he loves to run on the beach, so Brian would throw a stick for him or chase him around, or we’d get him to run back and forth between us. On Saturday there was a major wind/rain storm (same as in Portland), and the wind was blowing so hard that it was parting his hair on his side – fortunately, since I had so little energy, we were only spending 15 or 20 minutes on the beach at a time, so we were on the way back to our room when the rainstorm started. It was nice and cozy in our room watching the heavy rain blow sideways; but kind of creepy listening to the wind screech and howl through the front door, and clang something on the roof.

Other than that, we took a brief turn around the downtown area, windowshopping and stopping for lunch – Robin got lots of attention and several people wanted to take pictures of him; Saturday night we went to a musical put on by the local community theatrical company (quite fun!); had a nice romantic dinner at Newman’s at 988; played cards and word games in the room; read; napped; and just generally relaxed. We drove home on Monday the 4th.

Tuesday the 5th I started back to work half-time – that first week, I came home and took a couple-hour nap each day, and still slept through the night.

As I was going through my e-mail inbox that first day, I came across an e-mail from my friend and co-worker Jenny – she’d once again set up a team from work called “Supporting Julie” for the annual Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk on the 9th of May. Brian signed up to walk, and I went with him, although I wasn’t up for actually walking. Many of my friends from work came – Leah, Carrie and James, Kristen and her husband Bill, Jenny and her family (including her in-laws, who were nice enough to go walking on their vacation!), and Becky, who started at Schrodinger just before I started medical leave, so I haven’t gotten to know her yet – wasn’t that sweet of her to walk for me? The company I work for is called Schrodinger, and the team t-shirts always feature the name of the team and the company name if there is one. This year, the way they printed the shirts, the team name came out looking like this: Supporting Julie Schrodinger – all on one line, so it looks like the team was supporting Julie Schrodinger ;-} Thank you, Jenny, for taking the time to organize the team and to walk for me! I waited at the plaza that was both the beginning and end of the walk, and had a nice little nap while I waited. It was a beautiful day, and Brian took Robin on the walk – Robin had the usual freakiness about walking on the Broadway Bridge (it’s very noisy, and shakes and rattles from the traffic – heaven forbid that a big truck or bus should pass over while he’s on it!), but other than that he enjoyed the walk, and all the attention he got – one lady came over to pet him at least 4 times over the course of the morning!

I worked half-time again the next week, and it was better – I didn’t end up having to nap each afternoon once I got home, although it was tempting.

The weekend of the 16th/17th we spent in Tacoma – way back months before, we had purchased tickets to the Fleetwood Mac show at the Tacoma Dome (I actually bought insurance on them in case I wasn’t well enough to go, knowing it would be just a month after my last chemo). We had planned to leave Robin with our friends Sharon and Gary, but when I called my 93-year-old aunt to see if she was going to be in town for a visit, she not only insisted that we spend the night with her instead of at a hotel, but that we bring Robin, and she would dog-sit while we were at the concert. We got there around 2:30, and Robin just went nuts when he saw Aunt Julia – he remembered her from previous visits, and really thinks of her as part of his extended herd. We had an early dinner, then Brian and I headed off to the show – she only lives about 15 – 20 minutes from the Tacoma Dome, so it was no problem to get there, and traffic wasn’t too bad. The show was awesome – Lindsey Buckingham’s voice and playing was as good as we expected (we saw him solo in Portland a couple years ago, so had a pretty good idea what to expect); John McVie was the quiet stalwart he always is; Stevie Nicks was her usual lacy, floaty self, but I don’t think her voice has held up as well as Buckingham’s – she no longer was hitting the high notes on her songs, opting instead to harmonize with a lower note, which was kind of disappointing; but for me Mick Fleetwood made the show. I’d seen him in 1993 or ’94 with Fleetwood Mac, although neither Buckingham nor Nicks were touring with them – he was incredible then, and he was incredible this time, also. He is so into what he’s doing, you can just see it on his face, and he’s obviously having a blast. Our seats were good, but low enough that we couldn’t see him over the drums, so I found myself watching the screens a lot in order to watch him play. Wow – he’s intense!

When we got back to Aunt Julia’s, she said that Robin spent the first hour sitting and watching the front door, and both times he asked her to go out, he wasn’t interested in going potty, but wanted to go in front to see if we were out in the car. He spent some time lying in the guest room where our suitcase was, but then came out and lay down against her feet and they spent the evening watching TV. We chatted for another hour and watched part of Saturday Night Live before heading to bed. Sunday, we slept in, had a lovely breakfast and visit, then headed home. I napped a good portion of the way.

Last week I bumped my hours up to 3/4-time, and the first day I worked from home, which was good, because I was so wiped out I needed a couple hour nap once I logged out. The rest of the week went pretty well, and although I was tired, I wasn’t exhausted, so my stamina is slowly coming back.

Friday we had my one-month follow-up with the oncologist. He started me back up on the Femara, the anti-hormone treatment – I’ll be taking it for about 5 years (he said by then they’ll probably have a study that shows that 10 years is even more effective, so don’t plan on stopping then. . .). His only real concern was that since I’m still having muscle and joint pains that I might get worse because that is also one of the common side effects of the Femara. I don’t remember having a lot of problem with that – maybe some when I first started, but I don’t think it was too bad. I started taking it again on Sunday, and so far it isn’t getting worse, so hopefully that won’t be an issue.

He also said that I could get my port taken out any time – I had to wait at least one month post-treatment because the Avastin can cause bleeding problems and wound-healing complications. It’s an in-office procedure for the surgeon, so even though I’ll probably have to take a mild sedative, it’ll only be a local anaesthesia, and I can just take an afternoon off work to get it done.

Other than that, I asked him about my vision – I’d noticed that I was having some vision change during the treatment, and was having trouble reading the computer screen – he said that any chemo-related vision change should be gone for sure in 3 months. It’s definitely been getting better, but my lenses are getting old and the coatings are coming off, so I need to get new glasses, and wanted to make sure that I didn’t get my vision tested while there was still some chemo-related effect.

My peripheral neuropathy has been diminishing significantly, to the point where I haven’t been noticing any numbness or tingling, although the motor control is still not back to normal. I decided to stop taking the Glutamine, and took my last dose Saturday – as of this morning (Monday), I’m starting to feel some numbness and tingling in my fingertips again. Guess I’ll keep taking it for a while, although I think I’ll start with a lower dose and increase it if that doesn’t take care of it.

This weekend we have just been lazing around the house, relaxing, playing with the dog, and enjoying the weather outside.

So there’s the update – I’m caught up, and believe that with my stamina starting to increase, that I’ll probably be better about posting. No promises, but I’ll try!

18
May
09

Here yet!

I’m back at work and exhausted, which is why I haven’t posted for such a long time. Besides exhausted, I’m feeling much better, with my other worst symptom being the muscle/joint pain – Tylenol usually keeps it under control during the day, but I’m still needing something stronger at night.

I will post again, hopefully this weekend.

23
Apr
09

One of these days . . .

. . . I will not only not feel yucky (that’s a technical oncology term, I’m sure), but I will actually start feeling good, instead of just feeling less bad.

This last chemo hit pretty hard – I’m still having some intense chemobrain moments, although they’re getting farther apart. The normal stomach/intestine action going on; the pains are pretty bad (I’ve had to use “the good stuff” to get any sleep since Monday); the insomnia when I’m not in pain is moderate; the fatigue seems excessive (presumably related to anemia); but the worst thing I’ve got going is the peripheral neuropathy.

It’s hard to type because my fingers don’t really want to do what I tell them to do, and I make a lot more mistakes than usual. The tingling and numbness is the obvious part, pretty much constantly there for now, but when I try to do anything that requires detail work or lots of movement, the clumsiness and lack of control is noticeable. I am even having a hard time knitting, even on big needles, and knitting is so second-nature (kind of like typing) to me I often don’t have to really watch what I’m doing.

The thing I’m most worried about is that it’s gotten so much worse so quickly. Typically by the week after a chemo it had faded to nearly unnoticeable levels – this time it’s even worse than it was early in the week. In some cases, it never goes away; or it can take as long as a year to go away. I’ve also read that the symptoms may not even peak for 3 – 5 months after the last chemotherapy.

But just today I was reading The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, and came across this:

“Human beings are remarkable – at what we can learn to live with,” Father told me. “If we couldn’t get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can’t have,” Father said, “then we couldn’t ever get strong enough, could we? What else makes us strong?” Father asked.

18
Apr
09

The Day After . . .

. . . my last chemotherapy.

This one has hit me pretty hard – I’m having a lot of pain and quite a bit of stomach/intestinal action, and my chemobrain seems to be pretty bad, too.

Today was one of the first trips out of the house that wasn’t for a doctor appointment in a long time. I had Brian take me to the grocery store today, because there were a few items I just had to have, but the places I usually order online don’t carry them. He would have come in with me, but I assured him it would only take a few minutes, and that I knew exactly what I needed and where to find it.

Of course, it was all being remodeled, and everything was moved around, so I ended up spending a lot longer pushing a cart than I expected. I finally found everything I needed, plus a couple impulse buys, but by the time I was heading for the checkout I banged my cart into several stationary objects. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t drive the car.

Typing is not working very well right now because of the increased peripheral neuropathy symptoms in my fingers, so I’ll just say that I’m happy to have finished with chemo, and I’m looking forward to getting through the last few weeks of feeling awful, and finally get back to real life!

08
Apr
09

Closing in on the endgame . . .

Yesterday Brian pointed out that there were only 10 more days before I’m done with chemotherapy.

Sadly, even though that was a happy thought, I then focused on how I’m going to feel crappy for at least 2 weeks afterwards.

Sigh. I thought I was getting out of that mental state. I really *want* to get out of that mental state. All the sun for the last few days made me *feel* like I was getting out of it, but apparently once the sun is back behind the clouds, so am I.

It really was much easier to have a positive attitude the first time I had cancer – although I do recall have some pretty grim days as I progressed through the chemotherapy back then too. Fortunately, back then I didn’t have to deal with all the illnesses I’ve been coping with this time. I’m not sure what to think about the pneumonia – I finally was feeling a little better earlier this week, but as of yesterday, I seem to be back to the same place I was the week before. Chest pain, still extremely fatigued (where even walking up the stairs exhausts me) – if it weren’t for the chest pain, I might think it was just (!) the chemotherapy. The doctor will probably want me to go in for another CT scan since I’m still having the pain. I just don’t want it to put any delays on finishing my chemo.

At any rate, here’s to 9 more days! Woot!

05
Apr
09

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Day

I spoke wistfully this morning of laying in the backyard in the sun, when it was still in the upper 50s. Around 1:00, Brian told me he’d set up one of our chaise lounges just for me, and since it was over 70 by then, I found some sunscreen, took a water bottle and the dog, and went out to enjoy the sunshine.

What a lovely day! it reached at least 75 degrees, with not a cloud in the sky.

About 2:30 or 3:00, Brian came and woke me up, and brought me indoors so I wouldn’t get burned.

Isn’t he wonderful? He takes such good care of me. Laying in the sun was so relaxing and warm, and even though I was still tired when I came in, I felt so much better emotionally than I have since I found out I had pneumonia again. It’s amazing what a little sunshine, and a lot of love, will do for one’s spirits.

04
Apr
09

pneumonia vs. chemo

I’ve been really wiped out the last couple weeks – even though I started the antibiotic over a week ago, things were worse at the beginning of the week than before. As of yesterday, I felt about the same as I did last Friday when I was diagnosed, so the antibiotic doesn’t seem to be helping, which could mean that this is viral pneumonia.

I don’t remember if I went into this before, but pneumonia isn’t a description of a single illness – basically it refers to any infection of the lungs, usually involving inflammation and collection of fluid. It can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitical. So even though I had a pneumonia vaccine in November 2007 that is good for 5 years, the vaccine doesn’t cover every possible source of infection – as a matter of fact, it only covers bacterial infection by the pneumococcal bacterium; and then only about a quarter of the varieties of pneumococcal bacteria out there. So even with its protection against the most common bacterial infections, there’s a ton of other stuff out there that could get me; and with the compromised immune system, even the ones that are covered under the vaccine could still be suspects.

At any rate, when we went in for chemo yesterday, the oncologist expressed concern that I wasn’t feeling better on the antibiotic, and that my white blood count was so low – however, he decided to proceed with the chemo, with strict instructions to report any increased chest symptoms immediately. And if I’m not feeling better by next week, he will probably send me in for another chest CT scan.

Even with the already low white blood count, but with a good neutrophil count (the bacteria-fighting white blood cells), he decided against having me get the daily Neupogen shots next week – they are one of the two ways of getting your bone marrow to start producing white blood cells. The other is only given when there’s at least two weeks between chemo sessions. However, the bet is that as of next Friday, when I go in for my !!SECOND-TO-LAST!! chemo, I will probably have to have them the next week. That’s kind of a pain, since I really don’t feel up for driving these days; fortunately Brian is usually working from home in the mornings, so it’s just a matter of struggling out of bed earlier than I usually can.

I’ve been sleeping a lot, although the last three or four days I’ve started waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to get back to sleep for 3 or 4 hours, but then sleeping hard until late in the morning. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or not – I’ve been trying to avoid daytime naps since they’re probably one of the culprits (I was only up for 5 hours one day, usually around 8 hours most days for the last week and a half before that). But maybe it’s a sign that I’m finally going to start getting better?

But then there’s chemo. It really has sort of rocketed to my brain this time – I was talking to Brian last night and didn’t remember something that we’d talked about just 5 minutes ago. Hmmm. I’m having more stomach and intestine problems this time around, and the pains are already calling for the good stuff – the morphine. Fortunately I only seem to need it at night, since Tylenol is currently managing it during the day. But even sitting typing, I can feel the tingling in my fingers that means the peripheral neuropathy is escalating. Thank goodness I’ve only got two more sessions! Yay!

Thank you to everyone who is sending all the love, good wishes, positive energy, and prayers – I appreciate them all. It is both motivating and healing to know how many people care and are thinking of me. I think of you-all often, myself, even though I haven’t had the energy to make contact. Hopefully that will be on the mend soon ;-}

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.

21
Mar
09

Bacheloretting, briefly

Brian has flown down to visit a friend who lost a sister to colon cancer, and then is going to visit his Mom and help her out with some things she can’t do herself, so I’m alone from last night through next Thursday.

Brian almost didn’t go because he was worried about leaving me alone right after chemo – I reminded him that the last time I had chemo he left me alone for a few days while *he* went on our normal family Christmas visit, and the worst thing that happened was that I fell up the garage steps and strained one of my arms when I grabbed the door handle (only the door wasn’t shut tight, so the door swung open and pulled on my arm, only I had just had my mastectomy 2-1/2 months prior and neither arm was supposed to be used, lifted, pulled, etc.).

Somehow, that didn’t reassure him.

Then I told him that Sharon is right across the street, and has promised to check on me, and give me rides if I need any. Also, I had suggested that I could call Cathy if he *really* was worried about it, and that I was sure she would come stay – he decided that I would probably be fine, since I’m pretty sedentary (read: totally wiped out) after chemo anyway, and that the worst trouble I could get in would probably be spending too much time in my recliner.

As it turned out, I was on the phone with Cathy last night, and when I said Brian was out of town, she immediately offered to come stay – so she’s coming down today, and we’ll probably do all sorts of arty/crafty things for a couple days. When I’m not sleeping that is. I’m just about to go work on my quilt, but decided I wanted to tidy up my office a little more – after all the sorting I’ve done I’ve got a lot of papers relating to crafting that need filing in binders.

I may do a Lord of the Rings movie marathon; or who knows. I have to say, the bottle of port is tempting me, but the way my stomach feels, it’s just going to have to wait.

Had my neulasta shot this morning, and already the pain is starting, so I guess it’s time to go take something, and see where the day goes from there.

18
Mar
09

Things I never knew were difficult

Today I went into work today (edited to add: included in the list, avoiding redundancy) instead of working from home – even working just over half a day had me sweating and totally wiped out.

I went in because there are some physical things I have to get ready for our tradeshow starting this weekend, and tomorrow I have to go in to finish them up and ship them off.

Did you know that making copies of CDs is difficult? I don’t remember it being so hard, but between shaky hands and peripheral neuropathy making my fingertips numb, it certainly is now.

Lifting pads of paper, sorting through pieces of paper, writing the same number over and over; these are all things that I wouldn’t normally think twice about (except maybe how boring they are). Today, I was glad that I didn’t have anything more exciting to work on!

But wait! I had to do some proofreading. My nose kept creeping closer and closer to the page, and after I read it for spelling and punctuation, I had to re-read a lot of it for context.

Yikes. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get back in shape just to be able to work a full day at the office once I’m done with the chemo – no doubt I’ll do it, because I have to, but man – I feel like less than half a person at this point, not even being able to read sensibly. Sigh.

16
Mar
09

Did you get the license number. . .

. . .of the truck that it feels like just hit me?

Today was one of those days when it feels like the zombies are winning. Or, rather, since I was feeling particularly zombified, that they’re taking over, anyway; since I don’t really feel as if I was winning anything.

The usual pains, fatigue, insomnia, numbness/tingling, bloody nose, and today with extra special chemobrain and blurry vision!

I was having a lot of difficulty thinking straight, and if it keeps up like this, I’m not going to be able to drive anywhere. Fortunately I have some good friends who are going to help me out with rides a couple days this week.

I need to talk to the doctor about the blurry vision though. One of the symptoms of high blood pressure is blurry vision, although I don’t know how high over normal that would start showing up. Presumably, once I’m done with the Avastin and my blood pressure is back to normal, I will go back to my previous vision measurements. Although I was thinking I was ready for new glasses before I started treatment, so I’ll probably wait a couple months, then see how it’s doing.

Vision is one thing that I would be devastated to lose – that and my color vision, because both are so much a part of what I do artistically/creatively.




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