Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not the best Christmas carol!

"Dashing through the snow, On our way to urgent care, Worst headache in the world, And itching everywhere! Oh, Shingle bells, Shingle bells, Shingles all the way, oh how miserable it is, To be sick on Christmas Day!"

Yep, I got shingles! After waking up last Tuesday with a horrible headache, fever, chills, and nausea, I knew something was up. Went to my primary doctor on Thursday who suspected shingles at first, then changed their minds. Gave me a shot of antibiotic and sent me home with steroid cream for the rash and oral antibiotic for the fever. Friday night began throwing up and kept on until Christmas morning. Went to the ER on Sunday and finally diagnosed with shingles. My head was still killing me and my neck and shoulder were aching too where the rash was. But the ER docs introduced me to my new best friend . . . Dilaudid, ahhhhh! It's a very lovely narcotic painkiller that totally put me in a new dimension. As I lie there in the triage room with the lights dimmed and a nice warm blanket, I relished in the drug-induced daze of feeling no pain, finally.

They also gave me some anti-nausea and anti-viral meds, along with more painkillers, and let me go home. So far, I have felt great! They said it shouldn't last more than 2 weeks. But I'm supposed to have the Cyberknife treatments on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I'm not sure how shingles complicates things . . . I'll just have to wait and talk to Dr. M tomorrow.

So, we did have a wonderful Christmas despite my misery. The girls finally got a Wii, which has been hysterical to watch them play. Rachel Rose doing the boxing game makes me smile more than anything. Her trash-talking her opponent is truly impressive. "You sorry loser! You're going down! I'm just getting started with you!" But it does make me rethink our idea of starting her in martial arts anytime soon!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! And no Shingle Bells!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's a Christmas miracle!

We got a call this morning from Madge, the sweet insurance coordinator for Dr. McLaughlin. We won our appeal - Blue Cross is going to cover my Cyberknife treatments! Apparently, Dr. M spoke with a doctor at BCBS and explained my case. God bless Dr. M, and God bless Madge, and God bless BCBS! The Christmas spirit is alive and well!

So I will get a call next Monday telling me my treatment time. Then I will go on Tues, Wed, and Thurs. Dr. M feels very confident that the radiation will eradicate the tumor entirely. So do I!

Meanwhile, John, the girls, and I have been enjoying the season and being home together. We have drunk gallons of hot cocoa, watched a ton of Christmas shows on TV, turned on Christmas music at dinner every night, and even went on a tacky lights tour! If you're interested, check out Hillbrooke neighborhood in Alpharetta - incredible!!

Oh yeah, and my hair has started to grow back. I have a very close crew cut on my head and teensy-eensy eyelashes. I'm hoping by the end of January I can put away the hats and scarves.

MEEEEERRRRYYY CHRISTMAS, everybody!!! I hope yours is amazing!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I like this gut better!

On Wednesday, I went to see Dr. Salmieri and he had a more encouraging outlook. He talked with Dr. McLaughlin and instead of more cancer causing my levels to go up, he feels it could be from these two remaining nodes. Dr. M. wanted to know how he could be sure, and he responded he didn't know! He said he could only treat what he knew about and right now the scans show only those two nodes. He wants to eliminate them and then see what happens. So I will be having Cyberknife alone for now. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!

I went yesterday to Dr. M's office to get the planning started. They did a simulation and a CT scan. I will have the actual treatments on Dec. 27, 28, and 29. Each treatment could last up to 2 hours. He gives a prescription for Valium to take beforehand, so John will have to drive me to each one. Thank goodness he is home from work! But I appreciate all the offers to help, it's nice to know I can count on help!!

I asked Dr. S how long we would watch my numbers before possibly going back on chemo. He said 2 months since the cyberknife can cause inflammation which can cause my level to rise. He wants to give it some time to "settle in." I also asked him if he would start chemo with only my CA125 as an indicator. He said no, not if I didn't have any other symptoms. So the plan is to have the Cyberknife done, keep watching my CA125, keep getting scans, and get back to living my life! I'm just excited because with a guarantee of 2 months without chemo, my hair should come back! That will make me feel better more than anything!

Thank you, everyone, for all your good wishes and prayers for me! It's been hard to stay positive this whole time, but it's easier with my cheerleaders!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Waiting til Monday . . .

Yesterday, John and I met with Dr. McLaughlin again. After finding out my CA125 is up to 40, I decided to go ahead with the Cyberknife option. But when I told Dr. M that my level is rising, he gave me some disappointing info. He said his gut is telling him that there is more cancer than just the two lymph nodes . . . he said if there were just those 2 nodes, my levels would be remaining near the same, but with a marked increase it's indicative of more cancer. It's just not showing up yet on scans. Great.

He's going to talk with Dr. Salmieri on Monday and the two of them will decide the best next course of treatment. He said he could go ahead and do Cyberknife on the two nodes and knock them out of the way. Then I might need more chemo if my CA125 doesn't go down after that.

I am praying that his "gut" is wrong, and it is the two nodes alone that are causing my numbers to go up. And that the Cyberknife treatment alone will put me back in remission. Anything is possible, God is still the God of miracles!

I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers! So so so much!!