Saturday, June 23, 2012

Who loves ya', baby...

Feeling Goooooood, man...

Today is day 9 since my last chemo treatment.  I was told that my blood cells would be at their lowest point ("nadir") between days 7-10.  I have actually felt great the last two days.  I'm  not really sure what that means, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that this is a good sign.  I'm hoping to be on the uphill swing of things until my next treatment in a couple of weeks.  I realize that because the effects are accumulative, I can expect to feel worse each time, but if this last week and a half has been any indication, I've fared pretty well over all.  Sure, I've had the unfun neurological effects, but overall, it's still been better than expected.  I don't want to jinx it, so I'll shut the hell up about that.

Sleep is a huge challenge.  I have the Ambien, but I really don't like taking it.  I haven't had any crazy episodes on it (well, that I remember!), but still.  I can usually sleep fairly soundly until around 4am - regardless of when I fall asleep.  We live near a train so perhaps that's waking me, but geez, man.  This shit gets old.  I'd love to go to bed, fall asleep and then wake up when it's morning.  Period.  None of this tossing and turning and being super cold and sweating my ass off and all that... I don't sleep during the day so that I'm that much more tired at night.  Not sure if that helps, but I'm trying.

I've found that baths - warm, not hot - help, too.  I'm not in there for long and really don't do anything but soak, but I think they just calm my crazy body down.  Matt can't stand the fact that I bring my iPhone in there with me.  iPhones + water aren't typically a good combo.  Since I'm all butterfingery, I'm sure I'll drop it in the water one of these days, but come on.  Not having in the tub is like not taking it to the... well, anywhere.  Ha.  I did get a splash of water in it last night and I could no longer hear people on the phone, but after letting it sit in a bowl of rice overnight, all was good with the world again.  Take THAT, Matt.

I've looked at a lot of pictures of myself the last several days and realize just how much I've transformed in the last few months already.  My eyebrows and eyelashes are thinning more and my little nubs of hair on my hair are falling out, too.  I may get to be a real baldy yet!  My skin is very different still and I rarely wear makeup now.  My face in general is puffier and I just look, well, tired.  Big surprise, I know.  To me, I look unhealthy.  I want to look like the old me and look forward to the new and improved version when this is all over.

I think this whole experience has brought me closer to my girls.  We've always had a strong relationship, but they've really looked out for me and have been nothing but thoughtful and considerate of me at all times.  They know what they can joke about and when they need to be more sensitive to me.  I hate the fact that this may have made them grow up a little faster in some respects but I'm so proud of them and thankful for them.  They're going to visit family next week and I can say that I will really miss them.  They're my little buddies, my comic relief, my comforts.  Matt is wonderful but it's obviously a much different bond.

We've started receiving meals from various friends and we are so appreciative.  Like I've said many times, it's all very humbling.  There are truly good people out there that have no ulterior motive and simply want to be helpful.  That's good stuff right there.  I thank each of you that has helped us from the bottom of my little heart.

So as not to end on a melancholy note, I'll share what I posted on my Facebook page the other day.  I realize that many people that read this are friends of mine there, but in the event that you're not - enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Google searches... Such fun!

I don't check often, but I do have the ability to see how many page views I've had or from which URLs people are accessing my blog from, etc. I can also see keywords used in a Google search. There have been some interesting ones but this made me laugh out loud. See if you can guess which one it was...

(To the person that used it: You're some funny shit!)

Side note - It did just dawn on me that someone COULD have been trying to find a crack whore and ended up with me. My apologies! What a disappointment that must have been!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fun Fact #482

One of my new chemo meds, Cytoxan, is a derivative of that groovy old school, WWI toxin, mustard gas. Yes, I'm totally serious. How badass am I now?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chemo Treatment #10: Finally!

Howdy!  Sorry it's been a while since I've posted anything.  I've felt so/so, but I've had other neurological issues and quite frankly, haven't felt up to it.

So, I was able to have chemo last Thursday.  Woo hoo!  Because of the lingering neuropathy, though, Dr. Nelson decided without batting an eye to move me to the FAC portion of my treatment. FAC stands for 5-Fluorouracil (F), Adriamycin (A), and Cytoxan (C).  The "A" is known as the Red Devil or Red Death.  Good times.

I had two nurses on Thursday - Sarah and Tracy.  I do like both quite a bit, fortunately.  My infusion is basically the same process as it was with Taxol.  My premeds are somewhat different since the side effects are different.  This means... (wait for it).  No more Uncle Benny.  It breaks my heart. I won't lie.  I now get a cocktail of two different anti-nausea meds along with more steroid.  I was down to 4 mg with the Taxol, but I'm up to 12 mg now.  I also get Ativan, which is nearly as good as the Benny, but not quite.  Good lord.  My PIC (partner-in-crime), Jenny came to visit, which was huge.  She brought along some Andes candies cupcakes that were delish, too.  Mmmmmm...  I love her to pieces.

Anyway - I was started on the Red Devil first.  Sarah told me that she takes offense to this term and likes to refer to it as the Red Angel. Okay, sister.  I'll call it whatever you want as long as I can get it over with.  It looks like cherry Kool-Aid through the IV.  She yelled at me for watching it snake through the line up to my chest.  I laughed and kept on watching.  If I'm going to be poisoned, I'd like to watch, thank you very much.

It was basically a non-event.  I didn't feel any differently with this than I did with the chemo except for being a little more out of it physically.  I was told to take my anti-nausea meds for three days as prescribed - every six hours - whether or not I felt sick.  I took my Compazine like a good girl.  It's strong stuff and I basically slept for a day and a half.  I slept more than my cat does.

I haven't taken Compazine since last night.  In fact, I haven't taken any since Saturday.  I've only had very mild nausea and it's been very manageable.  I haven't wanted to sleep around the clock, although, some days, it seems like a terrific idea since I don't sleep well at night.  I'm very uncomfortable. I have horrible restless leg syndrome and it seems like it's a side effect of damn near everything I take. Fucker. I have a pretty signficant loss of dexterity in my hands, so texting or typing or anything takes far more effort than I thought it could.  I feel like my fingers are meaty little sausages.  They're still numb and tingly and that hasn't really subsided much at all.  I don't have pain associated with it, which is good, though.  My brain is still very foggy and I can't concentrate for shit.  I lose my train of thought very easily and get bored with things quickly, too.  While I may not be throwing up or feeling like a bus ran over me (yet!), I have enough other issues that I wish would stop.  In all, I'm doing okay.  Just okay.

I have my next treatment on Thursday, July 5th.  My blood counts could plummet around the 7-10 day mark, which is in just a few days.  Since I haven't been outside or around other people, hopefully, my risk of getting sick is very low and I'll stay fairly healthy.  I'm thankful that I haven't been worse, but this still sucks great big donkey balls.  Big hairy ones.

Thank you to everyone that continues to support me and ask about me and pray for me.  I know I say this all the time, but I appreciate it immensely. This is a tough journey for anyone and I'm happy that I'm nearing the home stretch of this stupid fucking chemo.  I hate it.  I love that it's killing the cancer but hate that it's messing me up in the meantime!

I'm adding my Jennys and Matt as contributors to this blog because I suspect that I may not feel up to it more often than not in the coming weeks/months.  I'll add where I can because I know you'll miss my colorful commentary! Haha...

This is the Red Devil/Angel flowing up through the IV to my awaiting port.  Yummy.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chemo Treatment #10: DENIED

Thursday started like all the others... I was anxious to get chemo and continue to kick this cancer bastard in the junk. My hands had gotten worse over the week - to the point that I had difficultly performing normal tasks like buttoning my shorts or hooking my bra or even writing. My thumbs were the worst. I had read about cryotherapy for neuropathy and had planned on asking my nurse if I could put my hands on ice during the infusion to see if that would help.

We got to the hospital and headed to get blood work done. I got the tech that bruised the bejeezus out of me a couple of weeks ago. She still poked me but thankfully, no bruising. Perhaps one of these days, my leg will accidentally on purpose kick her in the shin. After she puts the needle down, of course.

We proceeded up to see Dr. Nelson and hopefully get into chemo a little early. I had a quick visit with the nurse and got into my gown in preparation for Dr. Nelson. While I disrobed, Matt was kind enough to "make it rain" with 2, yes 2, one dollar bills. Wow. Way to make a girl feel special.

Dr. Nelson came in shortly thereafter and asked all the standard questions. He gave me an exam and we discussed my side effects more. He was very concerned about my hands and said, "This is pretty serious". He told me that the tingling/burning related to neuropathy is one thing, but once it impacts my ability to do things, it's
cause for concern. He told me that we were going to skip chemo this week to see if my hands improved. He was worried about long-term implications. It's generally reversible but sometimes it's not. Great. Lucky me.

I will have chemo one way or the other next week. If my hands are better, I'll have a reduced dosage of the Taxol. If not, we will stop after 9 treatments and move right to the FAC chemo. (The "bad" chemo.) Fortunately, the Taxol has been effective and did reduce the tumor by half, so stopping early won't have a negative impact. He also said that the neuropathy is a side effect of Taxol and shouldn't be an issue with FAC.

I felt completely defeated when we left. I was in tears before we made it out of the building, which is very unlike me. I want to be strong and handle all of this but clearly, my body has other plans. I was also upset that I could be starting the FAC chemo weeks earlier than I expected and it terrifies me.

Today is Saturday and my hands really aren't much different. They were very sore last night - worse than they've been so far - but today they're back to the way they've been the last several days. Nothing much helps. Massaging them and ice packs help temporarily but that's about it.

This trouble with my hands sucks but I'm glad that I haven't been sick up to this point. My side effects have been more annoying than anything else. I want to get chemo over with so that I can move on.

Keep your fingers crossed that things go well next week. I'm trying to rest in anticipation. I'm still bummed but I have to get over it and move on. I'm winning this battle - no matter what curve balls get thrown at me.

Fuck cancer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Always something new...

Another unexpected side effect from the chemo is that my body temperature is lower than normal. I am typically 98.6 on the nose. Now? I frequently have a temp of 97.9 to 98.1 or so. I still have hot flashes and all of that, too. It's really odd.

Last night and this morning, though, my temp was around 98.5, which, if you do the math, translates into a low-grade fever since my starting point is low. I had all the classic fever signs - chills, aches, etc. I had a bit of a headache, so I took some Benadryl and went to bed. (I'm plugged up all the time.) I didn't sleep well and woke up feeling just really run down. The fatigue was pretty strong - even though it seems to have leveled out some overall. As I come up on my 10th treatment, I'm pretty thankful that I really have had more good days than bad days. Today was not great but I'm okay.

I did end up going to see Nickelback on Saturday. We had tickets for one of the suites, and I didn't have to be around hoards of people. I sported my pink wig, which was pretty damn fun. Lots of stares and compliments but unexpectedly, there were several men that came up and asked if it was really my hair. Why, yes. Yes, it is. Duh.

The seats in the suite are like plush movie theater seats and ├╝ber bouncy. I bounced all night long. I bounced to Bush. I bounced to Nickelback. I bounced for the sake of bouncing. Yay for bouncing!

I did wipe out in the concourse - not once, but twice. I realize that coordination isn't always my strong suit and add to that my new jelly legs and it's a recipe for klutziness. This time, though, the floor was genuinely wet. I slipped in water or beer or something and slammed my knee down. I got up, walked about 2 more steps and BAM - down again. I now have a pretty bruise and bump on my knee. Like I don't have enough shit going on.

In all, it was a much-needed fun night. My PIC (partner-in-crime), Jenny, was the perfect date and Matt was, as always, the best chaperone/chauffeur I could ask for. I may have looked like a drunken clown, but it was totally worth it. (By the way, I got crazy with some Dr. Pepper. Woo hoo! No alcohol!)

Thinking it's about bedtime... Fingers crossed that I get my snooze on!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chemo Treatment #9

More than halfway done... Woot!

Yesterday was a pretty good chemo day. My grody crack whore bruise was actually mostly healed but I was leery of getting poked again. Thankfully, it was the gentle lady. She started to wrap the tourniquet around my right arm and I asked if she could please use my left. I showed her my fading bruise and mentioned that it was still that bad after a week. She said "Wow, were you in the hospital?" I told her, "No, this is actually from my visit here last week." She seemed surprised but explained that sometimes, no matter what they do, it'll bruise if platelets are low. She proceeded to gently draw my blood. As she finished, she told me that it was very important to keep pressure on the site after the blood was drawn, which would also help keep it from bruising. Considering that this was the first time ever that I had bruised like that, I'm still convinced that the other tech just botched it that time. Not so surprisingly, no bruise this time.

I headed upstairs and after a bit of a wait, I got back to room 8. I princess waved my way down the hall. While I was being a clown, I didn't notice that the nurse that lead me back had the blanket warmer door open to grab a blanket for me and I came within inches of smacking nose first into it. That could have been pretty.

I got settled and had yet another new nurse. This one was named Tracy and she was a firecracker - complete with big, pink fluffy earrings with googly eyes. After getting me all hooked up she said, "You're not even going to comment on these earrings?" Nothing like putting me on the spot, lady... I said, "Well, they ARE pink, so I figured you were just being supportive." She laughed and told me that her son (who's in 4th grade) had made them at school and asked her to wear them. She happily obliged. She said that a friend of her son's said to him "Your mom is so cool!" Ha... Love it.

Because Hannah had a half day, Matt picked her up and she visited with me for the last 30 minutes or so. By the time she got there, Uncle Benny had worked his magic and I was pretty dazed and slurry. I apologized for it being rather boring and she said, "It doesn't matter. I get to hang out with you." That child is so full of bullshit that her eyes are brown, but she's sweet and kind and I love her to pieces.

I've had some new side effects. My legs have felt sort of jelly-like. I haven't fallen but I feel like I've lost some coordination. (As though I really had any, mind you...) Tracy told me that it's from chemo. Of course it is, dammit. The neuropathy in my hands occurs more regularly, but it's still not anything that is unmanageable so far, which is good. As a whole, my senses feel dulled - particularly my sense of taste. Very little tastes normal now. My face is very dry and feels like it's sunburnt most of the time. It doesn't hurt - but it's tight and puffy. Of course, the latter is from my ever-present chunky monkiness courtesy of the steroid. Ugh...

My head funk hasn't gone away but it's not worse, which is good. I've taken to wearing wigs at work primarily because the "oh, poor you" look from people got old. My head isn't "nice" enough for me to feel comfortable enough to go commando there still and the scarves are a flat-out pain in the ass. They'll be better when the weather is cooler. Even with the wig, the second I drive away, it's off and I have that great "ahhhhh" moment.

My brain continues to succumb to a chemo dumb-down. I can't remember things and have trouble concentrating. I find myself repeating things because I can't recall if I've already said it. I will admit that I'm terrified of being like my mom, who suffered back-to-back strokes last year and is severely brain damaged now. Usually, chemo brain is reversible. Sometimes; however, it's not. It's yet another reason I have this blog. I may not remember all that I want to.

All in all, none of my side effects are totally incapacitating right now. The fatigue seems to have leveled out a bit but I've also been moving much more slowly. I'm trying to listen to my body more and rest before I hit the wall. Sometimes, it doesn't work, but it's been better. I may bitch and moan here and there but I'm also extremely thankful that things are going well.

Tomorrow night, my goal is to get to see Nickelback. Yeah, haters gonna hate. They're cheesy and raunchy but so am I. They're a rockin' good time and even though I've already seen them 6 or so times, I can't wait. I want to feel normal. No, I won't be drinking or singing and dancing until I feel sweat pooling under my boobs and down my back into my buttcrack (yes, really) but I will have fun. Wait. I'll still be singing. Singing at the top of my lungs with my PIC in tow.

As always, I'm thankful and love you and you and even you. Xoxo...