Monday, October 29, 2007

It has begun!

I had a feeling that today would be the day I noticed my hair coming out and sure enough, it has begun! I can now pull out a pretty good amount as you can see from the photo. Normally, no strands come out when I pull on my hair, not even one. So I know it's the chemo effect. Probably by Thursday or Friday it will all be gone. If it starts looking really gross, like I've got mange or something, I will buzz it all off. That's my worst fear - looking like a diseased dog!!

Mom told me about a place in Gainesville that allows you to get a wig at no cost, just a donation. I have an appointment for Friday. Since my insurance will not pay for one, this place is a blessing! Wigs are not cheap! I didn't think I wanted a wig for a while. I mean, I am lucky that my chemo does have an end point and I will grow my hair back. I thought I could manage with hats and head wraps for 3 to 4 months. But I am getting to the point that I want to be normal again. I am actually tired of my new blonde 'do. It's just not me and I'm anxious to be me again. All the side effects, whether they are from the chemo, the menopause, the surgery, or the medications, they just make me feel sick and not like myself. I know it's going to get worse before it gets better and I should get used to this other 'me' for a while. I just feel like I'm missing out on months of my life.

I should shut up now - it could be worse! I am lucky, lucky, lucky that they caught it early and only one round of chemo is all I need. I should be thanking God it's only months and not years. Lord, please help me remember to see the bright side!

On another note, my right side pain is back (grrrrrr!). I noticed it the most today so I called the dr. and they are setting up another CT scan. Hopefully, it is just another fluid pocket. They have been known to fill back up after being drained. Last time, it was such a relief when I had it drained. I would love to feel that relief again!

By the way, keep my mom in your thoughts this week. She's got a bad sinus infection and actually had to miss her treatment today because of it. Although I don't think she is too sad about that! But she does feel pretty crummy and I know she would appreciate some healing prayers.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Over the hump!

I am feeling much better at last! In fact, yesterday and today were almost back to normal. My incredible sister kept my girls over the weekend since John stayed in NC to work. So I had a chance to rest up and stayed drugged! :) Today, I actually felt like doing some housecleaning. Not fun, but much better than what I've been dealing with! Thank you to everyone who has given me encouragement with your messages. I couldn't get through this without cheerleaders!!!

And I want to tell those of you who have called me and had to leave messages - I am sorry I haven't returned your calls yet. My moments of feeling good are used right now catching up on things around the house. But I will call you back soon! I can't begin to express how grateful I am to have such caring people in my life!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chemo STINKS!!!

Okay, I have had enough! One treatment, that's it for me, thanks! I feel like I have had the worst case of the flu EVER! The nausea, the headache, the body aches, the feeling of being hit by a truck - I hate it!! Add to it, the hot flashes, the itching skin - get me off this ride!!!

If you have ever been through chemo before, you now have my utmost respect and admiration. We should not call you 'cancer' survivors, but 'CHEMO' survivors. I was beginning to feel really good after my surgery and if that had been all I needed, I would've breezed through this cancer stuff. But it's the chemo that is killing me. I just keep saying it will be all worth it. When I'm 70 years old watching my grandkids play, I'll be glad I went through this. But right now . . . . it's not fun!

I saw the dr yesterday and my incision is almost well. I can finally take a bath. Maybe that will help with the itches and aches. He also gave me a hormone patch for the menopause symptoms. Since estrogen alone will cause the endometriosis to grow back, he gave me a patch with progesterone added. It should be safe, but of course I will always worry about it coming back and turning into cancer again. I've got to trust him, though. He is the cancer doctor!

I go next week for blood tests, and again the next week. Then the third week, I'm back on the 'chemo-coaster'! I'd rather be at Six Flags!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Track STAR!

I did have my first chemo treatment yesterday. But before I tell about that, I wanted to tell about my amazing daughter, Caroline. Please forgive the blatant bragging to come . . .

We all know how smart Caroline is - qualifying for the gifted program as only one of three kindergartners in the entire school! Well, now she can add to her talents - track and field! On Sunday, the Future Olympians held a competition for all Forsyth elementary schools. Caroline competed against other first grade girls. I am so proud of her - she won First Place in the 25 meter dash,
First Place in the 100 meter dash, and First Place in the softball throw; and she won Second Place in the long jump. She came home with 4 medals jingling around her neck!

We knew she was a fast runner last spring when her softball teammates began calling her the "Golden Bullet" (she had a gold helmet and was quicker than anyone). So when we saw the flyer for the elementary track and field competition we were eager to see how she would do. Now we know we have a real athlete! So maybe if she doesn't get an academic scholarship, we can hope for an athletic one as a back up! She is amazing!!!

Okay, now for the chemo report. My first treatment was yesterday. We arrived about 10:00am and I finished at 3:30pm. A looooooong day! I was given several drugs before the chemo started - Benadryl and some anti-nauseau stuff. Then I started the Carboplatin and then the Taxol. The Benadryl was actually the worst! At first it made me sleepy like it does most people. Then I began to feel jittery and couldn't keep still. I've had this reaction to antihistamines before, but this was much worse. I didn't fall asleep at all like most of the other patients there even though I felt really tired. I just kept getting up to go to the bathroom, get a snack, anything to move around. Finally, the wiggles went away right at the end and I was able to do a crossword puzzle. I asked the nurse if the Benadryl was necessary and she said it was since my chemo dosage was so strong. I'm going to be prepared next time and take some anti-anxiety medicine beforehand.

When I came home I rested and slept just fine last night. Today has been good as well. I did take an unexpected nap this afternoon, just got sleepy all of a sudden. But I've been able to eat pretty well. The lack of taste has begun and it is really strange eating the same things but not tasting anywhere near the same! Everthing is like unsalted crackers or pretzels. I've heard that the third and fourth days after treatment are the worst, so I'm anxious to see how tomorrow goes. I do have a prescription here at home for nausea as a back up. Hopefully, I won't need it!

I got my hair cut this evening even shorter. Now I really look like Billy Idol! I've read that my hair will start coming out in maybe 14 days and it will happen quickly. With this short 'do it shouldn't come out in huge clumps and shouldn't be too shocking for the girls. I'll probably shave it when I get closer to bald. Anybody got any cute head wraps or hats I could borrow?

So that's about it - oh, John has finally stopped packing my incision. It has closed up enough that he's not able to stuff as much and it ends up falling out. I go back on Thursday to recheck my incision, so I'm hoping for a good report!

Thanks for checking in! Hope everything's well with all of you reading!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Feeling MUCH better!

I went this morning for the fluid pocket to be drained. I guess the iliac issue was not that big a deal. Anyway, they drained about 7cc and even though the procedure was a little unpleasant, it was well worth it. I do still feel very tender and sore on my right side. But the throbbing knot of fire is gone! I actually went the entire day with no narcotics!!! Yay!!!

I am back on schedule for chemo - Monday in the morning. Hopefully, it won't set me back too much. I am finally feeling like I'm on the road to getting BETTER!!!

Probably, the biggest boost for me was the housecleaner came today! Thank you so much to everyone who contributed money to make it possible. After 2 months of recovering, I have not been able to do anything around the house. John has been keeping things picked up, but I can't remember the last time my shower smelled of cleaner. Well, today it does - the whole house does!!! Rachel Rose has apparently not smelled a clean house enough, because she came in holding her nose! We had to tell her it was a GOOD smell! It is such an amazing feeling to have a clean house. I know most of you will understand. I just feel healthier being in such a clean house! Thank you to Vicky, Sue, Kelly B., Ginny, and Haley soooooooo much!!!

And we are still eating food from other people! I have yet to cook a meal. Our freezer is full of complete meals and our fridge has plenty of yummy leftovers. Plus the gift certificates! Thank you to Lanie, Elaine C., Becky B., Willie G., Sandra, Vicky, Adela, Suzy, and my mom and sister! And Mrs. Betsy Turner from Cullasaja!

I know that having such wonderful friends and family has helped my feelings more than anything. I hope one day I can return the favor to each of you. You all are amazing!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chemo next week

The CT scan came back and there is a fluid pocket on my right side, about 3cm. It is very close to my iliac artery and something else dangerous, so they might not be able to do anything about it except let it resolve on its own. The dr is going to talk with the radiologist tomorrow to decide. All this means that the chemo which was scheduled for tomorrow will need to wait until next week. Since it will zap all my body's good cells, too, my healing will be slowed. And my healing can't get much slower!

And, I've run out of the packing gauze I need for my incision. And it so happens that all of the pharmacies in Cumming are out of it, too. I know - bummer!!! I think it's God's sneaky way of giving me a break with this whole packing thing. Hallelujah! One pharmacy will get in some tomorrow morning, so I'll be back to my medieval torture techniques soon enough. I hate to admit that I do think it is helping. The drainage is still gross, but not quite as goopy!

So tomorrow I should get a call about what to do about this pain in my side. Honestly, I hope they are able to drain it or do something. I can take it much longer! Plus, I am READY to move forward with all this. The sooner I get started, the sooner I can get finished!


Did I say already that this pain in my right side really hurts? Because if I forgot to mention it at least once or twice or a zillion times, I think it deserves mentioning again. . . . Aie, Aie, Aie!!! Tomorrow is the CT scan to see what's going on (or I should say today since it's already the a.m.). At this point I wouldn't be surprised to see a mean little alien in there with a blowtorch! I don't even care if they say I need surgery again, if they can just fix it!

Did I mention it hurts! @@#$$%^&&***(($%^^&*$#!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Incision not healing

Well, I thought things were going pretty good. On Monday, I had my staples pulled out. About 30 of them - thank goodness, the incision is still very numb! I was still having some drainage from the wound, but my dr assured me it was not infected. He said that since this surgery had come so soon after the first surgery that it was taking a while for my body to heal. Okay, I can deal with that. But then I started having pain on the right side of the incision and it felt hard under the skin. It would hurt so bad that it spread around to my back and down my leg. I ran another low-grade fever, so here I go calling the dr again. Of course they want me to come in today. This time I went by myself thinking they would just give me more pain pills and another antibiotic. But nooooo . . . he thinks the open and draining parts of the wound need packing and he wants me to go for a CT scan of the right side to check for fluid pockets. I hate to say, it freaked me out a little bit. Partly, because the packing is what I went through when I had the hemorrhage with Caroline. My wound then did not heal and they decided to keep it open and pack it daily. If you're not familiar with the packing process, it's where you take strips of gauze and using a q-tip, you stuff it into the openings of the wound as far as you can. Then the next day you pull it out with the idea that the gauze has soaked up a lot of the infection, throw it away and then you stuff it again with new gauze. Now there is no way I have a strong enough stomach to do this to myself. Bless John for doing it for me back then and for agreeing to do it again this time. They offered me a visiting nurse to come do it for me daily, but I can scream and cry at John more comfortably than a nurse!
So I endured one packing there in the office and then went to schedule my CT scan. I had not taken any pain meds since I had driven myself and I was beginning to hurt pretty badly, especially that right side. The nurse came to ask me about scheduling my chemo while I was waiting for the CT appointment. I guess I will have to start that before the incision is fully healed.
Finally, I was able to leave. I just wanted to get to my car and cry! John had gone into work and Mom was watching Rachel Rose for me. She had her own CT scan today, but wasn't able to drive herself since she had fallen last night and hurt her foot pretty badly. She needed an X-ray while she was at the hospital.
I started off to Mom's, but then the tears came . . . then the sobs . . . then the hyperventilation! I have had panic/anxiety attacks in the past, but it has been years since I've had a full-blown one. I guess I was due! I managed to pull into a parking lot and call John. He is usually able to calm me down before I totally pass out. So after staying with me on the phone and telling me to breathe over and over, I finally got control of myself and calmed down. If you've ever had an anxiety attack, you know what they're like. If you haven't ever had one, you are lucky!
After several minutes, I was able to drive and I made it to mom's. He left work right then and came to mom's then followed me back to our house. So I made it home safe at last!
I guess it all was building up and with all the good news I was getting, I had no reason for a meltdown. Then when a little bit of setback happened, the dam broke and I lost it! You can bet I won't be driving myself to dr appointments anymore!!
Anyway, I am better now. Still having intense pain on the right side. If the scan shows a fluid pocket is there, it will have to be drained. I go on Monday for the scan. And then for the next 2 weeks we will try the packing to see if the incision can heal from the inside out - Yuck!!!
Wish me lots and lots of bravery until this is all over!