Friday, November 30, 2007

Savin' some for later! (a Rachel Rose story)

Let me start by saying that we have had our kitchen table for oh, about 4 years. It was not until last night, or I should say not until Rachel Rose, that a new feature of our table was discovered - it has secret compartments! Last night, I was vacuuming the carpet underneath the table because Rachel Rose had eaten Cheetoh's earlier. As I was walking back toward the table after putting the vacuum away, I noticed two small bumps underneath the tabletop. As I got closer I realized they were, you guessed it, Cheetoh's. But they were stuck there and they were tiny, just an end of a Cheetoh. I wondered how on earth she managed to bite off a tiny piece and then get it to stick to the underside of the table . . . so I got on my hands and knees to get a closer look. It was then that I noticed several small screw holes lining the underside of our table. They were part of the construction and held the tabletop onto the frame. Apparently, Rachel Rose decided they were a perfect storage place for her Cheetoh's because she had smooshed a couple into two of the holes. I tried to remove them this morning, but she wouldn't let me. So now I have to decide - do I remove them in secret and pretend Chloe, our cat, ate them. Or, do I leave them and when she's asking for a snack later, tell her to go get her Cheetoh's out of the table!

Now for the cancer stuff - I had my third treatment today. Since I only have six total, I AM HALFWAY FINISHED!!!!! Can you tell I am excited? The day went fine, just looonng (6 hours). And, as usual, the Benadryl drove me nuts. They don't mind if I walk around with my IV pump, so that helped to keep moving. The nurse said some people have this jittery reaction and even in some kids it causes excitability instead of drowsiness. I took two Xanax and she even lowered my Benadryl dose to half, but I still was like a Jack Russell puppy, wiggly all over! But I was very out of it. Apparently, I talked to mom and John on the phone, but I don't remember any of the conversations. I'm just worried I might have to go the bathroom while I'm drugged up like that and forget to shut the door!!

It probably wouldn't matter - the chemo patients are all very friendly and no one is too modest. You can't be when the nurse is asking you within earshot of everybody else, "How is your constipation, did the Miralax work?" and you have to respond, "Uh, yeah, but I almost didn't make it the toilet in time, is there anything milder?" Then, from across the room somebody pipes up with, "Try prune juice, works great for me!" Okay,uhm, thank you!

It's actually pretty sad to be in the chemo room for that long and see all the many patients come and go.
I could tell you about some pretty bad cases of recurrences, disease spread, and diminished quality of life. I play up the humor because if I focused too long on the unfairness, I'm afraid of how low it would take me. It's enough for me with mom to focus on the positives and not let myself get sad for her. But no matter how desperate all these stories are, they would also be so positive and hopeful. These women are amazing! My dr told us that the reason he went into gynecologic oncology was because of his fascination with the strength of women, especially their tenacity and optimism and fighting power over men! He always jokes with John about this! It is true, women are incredible . . . just look at my mom!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

No chemo for you!

If my life were a Seinfeld episode, this is what the "Doctor Nazi" would say! I get a call today and it appears that my blood counts are low, so I won't be getting my scheduled chemo treatment on Monday. Instead I will go for Neupogen shots on Monday and Tuesday. Chemo tends to zap your blood counts and they have these drugs to help with this. Neupogen actually works by overworking your bone marrow to make extra white blood cells. The downside is that is makes your bones HUUURRRTTT! Mom has to have three shots of Neupogen after every treatment. She actually gives them herself. I don't know how she does it. I am dreading it so bad!

I'm actually more bummed out that my schedule is getting delayed. It will be the first of February that I will finish now - IF I don't get more low counts. Can't get too used to anything on this ride! The chemo coaster changes at every turn!

Caroline asked me this morning when my brown hair would grow back. I told her not for a long time. I wish for everyone's sake this could get OVER WITH!

About my mom, we did meet with her dr last week to discuss her treatment, prognosis, etc. It was a good meeting, I thought. He is going to continue after all with her current chemo since it is still working. He said that what the cancer does is after a while on one treatment it finds a way to get around it. But in mom's case, her spots have shrunk. So her current chemo is still working. And he mentioned there are lots and lots of drugs to try after each stops working. He talked about fourth and fifth line of defense. So mom's got lots of options to run through before she's done! She actually goes tomorrow for a treatment . . . I'm jealous! :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bald is beautiful???

This second treatment has been much better. For the first week I was extremely fatigued - lying down to rest every time I reached the top of the stairs, panting like a dog when I went to pick up Rachel Rose in her classroom, and sitting in the shower! But then for the next week I was completely back to normal! I even hauled an elliptical machine up from our basement - well, Caroline did help! And then this week has been even better. Thank goodness since Thanksgiving is almost here - can't miss out on the bingeing!

I think the problem with the first treatment was that they had my weight wrong. She had me down 10 lbs heavier! They have to weigh you each time to know the correct strength of the chemo. So I kinda think they gave me a little bit of an overdose that first time. If the next treatments go like this one has I'll be happy!

And my incision is finally pain-free! It is all healed and doesn't sting or ache or anything. It's still pretty ugly - red and twisted - but I'll take ugly over painful any day!!!

I feel back to my old self except for the bald head. I could almost forget I was doing chemo if it weren't for that. Be sure to check out the pictures at the link to the left. I still have fuzz on top and all my eyebrows and eyelashes. I expect them to fall out at some point and that will really be depressing - no way to add mascara to make myself look presentable. Maybe I'll get some fake lashes.

Meanwhile, mom has been told she has to stop her chemo. It is causing severe numbness in her hands. We're not sure what her doctor is planning to do. Mom, Jan and I are all three going to meet with him tomorrow to discuss the situation and find out what we can do and what we can expect. It is a scary thing to have to deal with stage 4 cancer - it has no cure, just one treatment after the next when they stop working. We are living in constant fear of the cancer beast taking over! But my mom is one tough lady! If anybody can beat the beast, it is her! I know I've been scared of her most of my life - I wouldn't want to be her cancer right now! :-) love you, mom!

Keep her in your prayers and visit her blogsite to stay updated.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Gobble, gobble!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Rebecca CAN COOK!

Yep, you heard it right - Rebecca is an awesome cook! Yesterday, she and Willie Grace came over with a smorgasbord of food. I was ready to call the family and have Thanksgiving dinner early! Seriously, she brought pans and pans of food - they filled up my whole counter. And they are delicious! I knew her mom was a good cook, I guess the genes got passed down. I'm not going to tell you any of the dishes she brought because I plan to freeze some of them and bring them to Thanksgiving as my own creations! Promise not to tell, okay Becca?!

Well, today was treatment #2 - 4 more to go! This one was better because I was able to relax and nap a little. The Benadryl dose was a little less. If you remember, it was the drug that made me jittery and not able to sit still the entire time. I was miserable that first time. So today, I took a Xanax (anti-anxiety medicine) beforehand to ward off the effects. But the jitters began to start up a little in my legs, so I took another Xanax. Suffice it to say, I was knocked out within ten minutes. And it was much so better! The time went by pretty fast even though I was the last patient in the room when John and the girls came to pick me up. For the last half hour I had been talking to one of the chemo nurses and telling her basically my whole life story. She kept telling me I should write a book! I told her I would if the traumas would ever lighten up to give me enough time! It's always something with my family! Just as I was telling her the part of the surrogacy and how my sister carried my second daughter for us, Rachel Rose bounds into the room. "And there she is!" I said. Of course she had to show off. We got to see her new "angry dance" which is basically an Austin Powers move where she turns around fast and points both fingers at you with a scowl on her face. The nurse was very entertained. Yeah, baby!

Oh yes, before I forget to say - I did shave my head. I used a #1 guard on the clippers so I do have a little fuzz left - I was afraid of a real razor. I'm not that good on my legs and they are straight. Who knows how bad I would cut up a round surface! But even the fuzz is beginning to fall off. Before long I will be completely slick-headed. I really don't mind the hair loss thing. It's kinda cool actually. But I do hate the way it screams CANCER PATIENT!! People take one look and the pity starts. At McDonald's the other night I had to go back up to the counter for some more ketchup and you know how you hate to break in front of people standing in line? Well, let me tell you - a bald head is a ticket to the front of the line! I guess they think, "She won't have much time left to enjoy those extra ketchup packets, I'll let her have my place in line (pity pity)". I'm thinking of getting some tattoos on my scalp. They won't show once my hair grows back. And this way, for now I can at least be regarded as a skinhead or a convict instead of a chemo victim. We'll see how fast they let me through to the front then! Ha, ha!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Back to the doctor

Yesterday I was back at the hospital for another CT scan of my right side. The fluid pocket had filled up again so the radiologist asked if I wanted to drain it again. I said yes, of course! I was ready for that instant relief again! So in no time I was back on the table getting the 10 inch needle inserted into my belly (thank goodness my belly is still numb!). Another 7-8 cc was drained which apparently is not a lot. At first I felt better. But then the rest of the day was spent at the pediatrician's office getting the girls' well check-ups, then rushing back home to get costumes on, then trick-or-treating all over the neighborhood. By the time I fell onto the couch, that immediate relief was gone and I was in pain again full force. So I called the dr. today and they had me come in. What's happening now is the right side of my incision has a long, swollen place just above it that's extremely tender. He said it was a seroma (pocket of fluid) that has hardened. Not much can be drained because it's no longer liquid. I just have to wait for it to be reabsorbed by my body. He did give me antiobiotics since it is red and may be infected. I'm going to call tomorrow to make sure there is nothing that can be done sooner. I cannot take this pain! I think it may be pressing on nerves because it is a very sharp, shooting sensation sometimes and even goes around to my back. Meanwhile, the left side of the incision is still open a little, but not oozing anymore. It actually feels great - and I thought it was the problem side!

As for my hair, it's a total mess! It is falling out everywhere!! Chloe and I are competing to see who can cover the couch the fastest! I think I'm going to shave it tomorrow, or have John do it. It's not showing any bald spots yet, but I have no idea how long this hair sprinkling will last. Time to bite the bullet and go for the chemo cut!
Hopefully I will find a nice wig tomorrow. I already have some hats. But then who knows, I might just pull off the bald look pretty well . . . . okay, stop laughing.