Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back from DISNEY!

We are back from our Disney trip and I have to say it was WONDERFUL!!! We had such a great time we are already planning a trip back. I've got the pictures uploaded to Picasa and you can go there to see them all.
You can also click on this video to see the girls on the Teacup ride! Rachel Rose was such a lightweight!
video

The girls and I flew down early on Friday. We had sent all our luggage with John in the car on Tuesday. So all we had was a carry-on backpack. On the plane, I explained to them that we had to keep our seat belts on until the pilot told us it was okay to get up. I explained that the pilot was up front driving the plane and he was like the boss. Apparently, Rachel Rose misunderstood because a few minutes later she said she was scared. I thought she might be scared of take-off so I started to reassure her. But then she said, "I'm scared of the pirate!" It took me a moment to realize she had heard "pirate" instead of "pilot"! Well, sure, I'd be scared too if I thought a pirate had seized the plane!

Just minutes after takeoff, which was pretty cool to watch the girls experiencing their first takeoff, Caroline turned to me and said, "This is boring!" Well, honey, this is flying. And this is why I packed every known handheld activity I could find!!!

Rachel Rose had to use the potty during the flight, so I took her to the back of the tiny plane where the toilet was. After asking a passenger to shift over, we were able to open the door - tiny plane! As soon as she looked inside she shouted, "Yuck, I don't want to go in there!" Totally embarrassed, I shoved her in and closed the door. New experiences aren't always pleasant. Between the pirate in the front of the plane and the nasty potty in the back, I don't think Rachel Rose was impressed with air travel!

We finally landed, got on a shuttle and made it to the hotel. We had a calm dinner and went to bed early that first night. The next day we went to a hands-on discovery-type kids' museum that was really cool. Then after John got finished at the show we went to Downtown Disney for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.
It's like a shopping mall with fun activities. It was there that we got our first taste of the enormity of what is DISNEY!!! You could burn through quite a bit of cash in a very short time at this place! The girls wanted to ride the carousel and I saw that it was $2. Okay, not too bad. Then I overheard a couple dads behind me comment, "Are you sure that's not per revolution!!" Yeah, I could see parents throwing kids off as it spun around because they only bought one revolution! "Jump, Timmy, jump! Mommy doesn't have any more cash!"

That night a cold front came through, so the next day - our Magic Kingdom day - was a little chilly. We packed sweaters and coats and headed off anyway. What a magical, wonderful, amazing place! I was surprised at how caught up I became in it all. It truly turns you into a kid again. Caroline kept commenting on how it was the place where dreams come true, she truly believed it! And Rachel Rose just kept saying, "I like it here!"

One funny thing happened at the Monsters, Inc. Laugh floor. It was a comedy show where they would show audience members up on this big screen. Well, they told the story of Monsters, Inc. the movie and guess who they showed up on the big screen as Boo . . . yep, Rachel Rose! With her new haircut she was a dead ringer and she was so cute! The whole point of the show was to fill up the "laugh meter", this fake cannister with metered lights on it. Well, Caroline thought it was real, so she was giving her best effort to put out the laughs. At every joke, she would force out this loud cackle then comment on how the meter was moving up! People were turning and staring. I was pulling my hat over my face.

We took the girls on the Pirates of the Caribbean. We had no idea what it was going to be like and it turned out to be a little scary for the girls. Afterward, I asked Rachel Rose if she liked it and she told me, "No, it was for big kids. You should not take me there!" It's bad when your 3-year old is critiquing your parenting skills.

Overall, we all had a fabulous time. Even if the temperature in the car read 46 degrees when we rode home. We are ready to go back and definitely stay longer. But we'll have to build up some funds before that happens. Disney is a rare treat that can't happen too often. But it is worth every penny!

Oh, about the chemo stuff. I had my 5th treatment today, it went okay, I'm still feeling good. Just one more to go. Hopefully, I'll get it on Feb. 14 if I don't have another blood count delay. Then I'll be DONE!!!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reality Break

"Melinda, you just finished your 4th chemo, what are your plans now?"
"I'm going to Disney World!"

Literally, we are going this weekend. Since John is already in Orlando for the PGA Show, the girls and I are going to join him for the long MLK weekend. He drove down on Tuesday, we're flying one way on Friday, then we'll all drive back together on Monday (insert eye roll here). We have plans to go to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday. The weather is supposed to be good for that day, just chilly. We are all so excited! None of us has ever been to Disney World, so we've all turned into giddy, bouncy balls of excitement! And I didn't think my kids could get any bouncier!

I know most people plan trips to Disney months, even years, in advance. Well, we planned everything last weekend. The chemo nurses okayed my next treatment for the week we get back, so we rushed around and made all the arrangements as best we could. It won't be an extravagant trip (I actually pre-bought "souvenirs" at Target to save money), but it will be fun. A nice break from reality for all of us. We need it!

It's funny to see it snowing and sleeting tonight knowing that we will be in 70 degree weather this weekend! I took some photos of the girls tonight playing in the snow. Rachel Rose got to make her very first snowball, she was so happy. And Caroline would've stayed out until she was frostbitten if I hadn't forced them inside. But I had to let them play, it's been so long since we've had such a pretty snow! Hope y'all got a chance to enjoy it!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back from the doctor

Good visit today! The opening in my incision is okay to leave alone (thank you, Lord, it does not need packing!). He says it has reopened from the chemo. Basically, the chemo never allowed it to heal completely and it has weakened the skin over it. It's not bleeding or oozing too bad, so he says it's okay to leave it alone and let it try and reclose on its own. Of course if it starts showing signs of infection, I'll have to deal with it. But for now, I can just walk around like normal with a quarter-size hole in my belly. Okey-dokey! He mentioned again another surgery once chemo is done to redo my scar. The first time he mentioned this I laughed at him - No Way, was I going under the knife ever, ever, ever again! But now I'm thinking I need some work done on it so that it can heal properly. The opening will probably leave a hollow place even if it does heal closed, and the hard knot on the right is beginning to be painful again. He says he can take all that out by cutting a long ellipse around the scar line and pulling it closed. Almost a mini tummy-tuck (Woooo Hoooo!). Then without chemo interfering, it should heal like it should. I've never had a nice scar. Even after my c-section/hysterectomy with Caroline, it took forever to close up good. I lived with that ugly scar for 6 years. And now I've got this monstrosity. I remember at the pool last year, there was a lady who was newly pregnant and just beginning to get a little bulge. She was wearing a bikini and I noticed a very, very thin pale line across the top of her bikini bottom. It took me a while to realize this was her c-section scar from a previous pregnancy. It was beautiful!!! I wanted one like that soooo bad! So, yes, I am considering scar revision surgery in a few months. If you think I'm crazy, just ask and I'll post pictures of my scar now on my blog and you'll agree with me (after you finish gagging!).

The dr read my lab results and decided all of my counts were a little too low. He ordered me a shot of Procrit (red blood cell booster) today which hopefully will give me a little more energy. I've been wondering why I've been more tired than usual the past few days, so it makes sense that I'm a little anemic. I also had more labs drawn and my platelets have not come up enough for me to get chemo tomorrow. We'll try again on Sunday. He said it's not as big a deal for me to be delayed a week or two as it is for someone who is stage 2 or 3, since my chemo is only prophylactic (preventive). The problem is, John is leaving for the PGA show in Orlando on Tuesday and I DEPEND on him on my post-chemo/misery-filled/one step from the grave/shoot me now/yucky days. I'm considering asking if I can hold off on the treatment until he gets back, and actually maybe taking the girls down for the long weekend. Is that bad? It would be 12 days of a delay if I do this. As much as I want to get this over with, I don't know what I will do with John out of town. We'll see what the chemo nurses have to say . . .

Let's see, not much else to report from me. Mom has begun a new chemo, Gemzar. She had her first dose on Monday and has been having terrible migraines and dizziness. She's actually spending the night with us tonight for safety reasons. We're hoping she develops a tolerance for it and this is just an initial reaction. If so, she'll get it every Monday for 3 weeks, then one week off. Her hair is coming back and should regrow with this new treatment. She's worried that it's coming in too gray . . . better watch out, she'll be red before we know it!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A few hot topics -

So here's the conversation I overheard the other day . . .

Rachel Rose: "Daddy, how tall are you?"
John: "Oh, about six feet."
Rachel Rose: "Noooo, you just got two like me!"
I look over and she's holding her feet up to him. Guess she set him straight, he's actually 5'11" and 3/4! ;-)

So, what's new with me? Here's a few hot topics -
  • John got a new car! Yipppeee! Ding, dong, the Taurus is gone, the wicked Taurus is gone!! He actually was able to get a brand new Corolla. His very first brand new car. It's beautiful - pale silver and soooooo clean! We'll see how long that will last. For now, the girls have to pass inspection before they can enter it! We are so happy to have it because it's going to get so much better gas mileage than the Taurus which is huge with him traveling back and forth to NC. And the Taurus was in need of some major repairs . . . good riddance (I never liked that car).
  • The girls are finally back in school. Forsyth got a really long break this year and it actually got to be too long. Caro and RR did play very well together with all their new toys, but they finally reached their limit. Amazing how fast new toys become boring . . . they should include a shelf life on the box. Probably, though, the cold weather had a lot to do with the boredom. They got new bikes and would've spent time riding them, but it was just too too too cold!
  • My birthday is tomorrow! 38! We've made a tradition of wearing my tiara from Miss NGC on our birthdays (well, John is excused from it). I wonder how it will look on my bald head . . . Ha! Ha! I'm laughing just envisioning it!!! I could wear one of my new wigs and the tiara. Thanks to my Friends Fund that so many of you contributed to, I was able to buy two new wigs - one short and brown, like a pixie cut and the other RED! I love the red one and actually wear it to school when I sub. Thank you all so much for your amazing generosity!
  • My platelets are low. After my blood draw this morning I got a call from the chemo nurses saying that they were at 47 and they have to be over 100 before I can have my treatment. So, it looks like I won't have my 5th treatment on Thursday as planned. Hopefully, I can get it on Friday. I'll have another blood draw to check and see. Unfortunately, there is no medicine or shot they can give to boost platelets. Just gotta let your body do it on its own. If they get too low, they can give you a transfusion. That's what Mom had to do with her first chemo back in 2001. I would like to avoid that if at all possible - I've had enough transfusions, thank you! (39 when I hemorrhaged with Caroline's birth)
  • Oh, yeah - my incision drama has begun again! (Warning - graphic content alert!) The other day as I was drying off after a bath, I noticed that I must've rubbed too hard because a small spot on it had split open and begun to bleed. It wasn't deep just the surface skin, but it is draining/bleeding some still. I've also got a small area about 4 inches away that has begun to hurt. Maybe it's all the same thing, but the nerves are cross-wired. I have an appointment to see the dr on Thursday. We'll see what he has to say about this. If he mentions the word, 'packing', I'm running out of there as fast as I can. I've done my time with this darn incision, I don't want any more grief over it. I just can't believe it has done this - it has been 4 months since my surgery!!! I had no idea the incision could reopen like this. Although this spot was the last to heal and it never seemed to smooth over like the rest, it has always been red and puffy. Gosh, my scar is so hideous - crooked, sunken, bumpy, red and purple. I need an extreme makeover!
So that's about it for my latest news. The hormone issue seems to be resolved at the moment. Cross your fingers for me! Hope all is well with all of you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is enjoying this new start of a new year! Our Christmas was great! The girls were lavished with toys from Santa, a little too much if you ask me! But that's Santa, for you, always overdoing it! My chemo treatment was the Thursday before Christmas and I had a Neulasta shot on the Friday. I wish I could say that the worst was over by Christmas morning . . . but not so much. The nausea this time was bad. I tried some anti-nauseau medicines, but they did not really work. John finally bought me some lemons and that seemed to do the trick. I thought I was better on Christmas Eve and got the girls together to bake cookies and wrap some presents. Then, maybe it was the craziness of "helping" Santa until 2am in the morning that broke me down. On Christmas Day, sometime in the early afternoon, I began having my menopause symptoms again - hot flashes, sweats, itchiness, irritability (baaaaadddd!), random teariness. I felt like my body was a torture chamber. I made it through dinner with Mom and Jan and the whole fam' and the present opening chaos. Then by bedtime, I was aching everywhere. I decided to change my hormone medicines back to my orginal one. Immediately, the heat left me and I slept pretty decently. I don't really like this original HRT all that well. It's called the CombiPatch and it's a patch of estrogen and progesterone. I tried it right after my surgery and it worked for a while, then I started having night sweats with it, so they changed me to good ole Premarin and Provera, the old standby's in hormone replacement therapy. They were working great and I still don't understand why they stopped working at Christmas. Maybe the hustle and bustle was too much. Who knows! Anyway, I called the dr to see what else I could try and she said she could up my dose of Premarin, but if that doesn't work then I'll need to see a specialist in hormone replacement therapy. And I thought my dr. WAS a specialist, but apparently not! They just gut you and take away the hormones then send you on your way - See ya! Buh-bye! Here's a complimentary fan!!! I'm going to give it a month and if I still don't feel the way I want to, then I'll go for the specialist. Right now, the main issue I'm having is itchiness. It's in my hands and feet mostly, but goes to my legs and arms. It's hard to describe the sensation since it's not so much a surface skin itch that lotion or Benadryl cream could fix. It's more of a circulatory or nerve thing - tingly, stinging, deep underneath the skin. I usually just scratch and rub until it stops. Mom and I were talking about how with her cancer, she is having to get used to a new "normal" for her. Her body is not the same as it was before cancer, even though her mind is. She is having to change her entire mindset and accept what her body can and can't do. Pretty tough for a busy lady like my mom. But the same thing applies to me. My body no longer has hormones, but my mind remembers what I felt like with hormones. I've got to accept that I will never feel the same as I did before surgery and I will have to get used to some discomforts now and then. Yeah, easier said than done!!! Mentally, I'm beginning to imagine life after chemo - my hair growing back, no more needle sticks, no more nausea, energy, energy, energy - but life after hysterectomy doesn't excite me quite as much! For those of you taking hormones or going it cold turkey, I would love to hear what worked for you. Once this chemo is done, that's my next goal - getting as close to my old "normal" as possible! By the way, I have two more treatments, Jan. 10 (one day after my 38th birthday!) and most likely, Jan. 31. I hope to start February with chemo completely behind me! I pray, Please God!