Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What chemo has done to my skin

First things first - Please pardon my lack of a pinkie toenail. While I DO have something there that resembles an actual pinky nail, it is beyond my natural abilities to make it  cute. (Unlike those sweet Asians at the nail salon, who can somewhere make a double French manicure appear. Bless them and their detailed work! For real!)

Now, for the true reason for this post. See how my skin is puckery and loose? See how the skin on my third and forth toe has shriveled? Note how I suddenly have a swath of extra skin beneath my big toe. Did you see how my skin has a chalky appearance, almost like there's a fine dusting of white powder on top of my skin?

This is what's going on ALL OVER MY BODY, KIDS!

Not only has this last round of chemo wrecked the smell of my skin, I appear to have aged seven years in seven days. That film/residue is just chemo coming out of my pores. The kicker is, I sort of have to wait for it to just slough off. I can't use a louffa sponge or soap with harsh cleansers, because I could hurt/cut my skin and cause an infectiom, which would be worse than dealing with the skin that is grey and chalky. Bahhhhh!

Monday, March 2, 2015

So much for that...

Round I, 21 days, no puking.

Round II, day 6... let the puking commence.

Not sure if it's because I'm not sick enough to stay asleep for the 48 hours following release (this was the story of my life in the first round), or what. But I can tell you that the last 24-36 hours have been a nauseated misery, and that we just hit the first vomiting milestone in this chemo journey of my life.

I'm grateful for meds that (mostly) help me keep the food in my body INSIDE MY FREAKING body. As not awesome as this has been, I'm super grateful for all the meds that make it as easy as they can.

Nurse Brian

Please allow me to introduce Nurse Brian.

(But before we go there, there's a short back story that goes with.)

Scene: Laurie's hospital room, chemo day three

Dr. H and Nurse Brian enter. Dr. H is waving a blue glove about in his right hand, saying something like, "Don't say I never brought you anything", as he tosses the glove onto my bed.

Then H stopped and looked at Brian, and said, VERY seriously, "Whatever you do, DON'T read her blog." Nurse Brian made sort of a nervous face and said "Okay", and that was pretty much the end of that...

... Until the next time Nurse Brian had to come into my room, at which point, he was ALL about the blog. Wanting the address, asking if he really could read it, etc. Kimmie Curry was visiting at the time, we set up a fun little question/answer session so the readers could be properly introduced to Nurse Brian (aka: Hot Nurse Brian)

Nurse Brian is 35 years old.
Why, yes, that is his real hair. And you should SEE his father's hair!
Nurse Brian is from South Dakota.
He left because of the winters, did a brief stint in Vegas before coming to AZ
Nurse Brian is married and has two children, ages 2.5 And 5.5. (His wife is very into celebrating birthdays, including the half birthdays, so he always knows how old his kids are.)

If you've met Kimmie, then you know that the interview got cut short once she realized Nurse Brian was married (in her defense, he wasn't wearing his ring that day).

Her final question was whether he had an single, marriage-aged, men in his family he could contribute to the pool. (Kimmie WILL find me a husband with medical benefits, or die trying!)

Aaaaaaaaaaand, drumroll, please!

Nurse Brian does, in fact, have an eligble brother. An identacle TWIN of a brother.

Only downside (and I do mean, the ONLY downside... because their last name is CASTLE, people!)... the bro lives in South Dakota.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

In the wee, small, hours of the morning.

While the whole, wide, world is fast asleep. I lie awake  and think about the chemo, and never, ever think of counting sheep.

(Just cracked myself up with that, btw.)

Here's the haps on the craps:

My ativan was ordered for every 8 hours in error. Oh, no. That's an every 6 hours med. Wanna know how I can tell? I had one at 10 and slept straight to 4:00, at which point, I woke up thinking I needed to pee. (Which, duh, I did. They're pushing fluids through me like crazy banshees.) But before I could even get back to bed, my brain was running in circles. Awesome. So far, I've walked the entire floor twice, trying to wear myself out. (Usually, this would work. Nooooot when I'm all hopped up on anxiety. Oh, no.) Had a total meltdown on my sweet night nurse who thought I was so pleasant when she came on shift last night at 7:00 (duh... I was medicated). She was totally awesome - and even told me stories  to prove that I am not the crazy one. She's got a call in to the doctor to get the order changed, and then we just have to wait on pharmacy. Fingers crossed we've got some early risers out there!

In the meanwhile, I look up and this is what I see:

Other (hilarious) things that the chemo does to me? I've gained three pounds since my pre-bedtime weigh in. How nuts is that?! Three pounds in roughly eight hours. I'm looking at you, Mesna and Ifosfamide!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

And... Here we go.

Don't worry that every time I hear/say that phrase, the Joker's voice echoes in my mind.

Which, in this case, I'm considering a good thing.

Because this is what he says right before he attacks Batman. And I feel like I'm attacking the cancer, as I go into my second round.

Also, yes. I'm ignoring the fact that Joker ultimately loses. (And... uh... dies.) It's the super explosive fight scene that I'm focusing on right now. And that is totally good enough for me today.

On call

So, here's the fun thing about today...

I'm sitting around, waiting for the hospital to call and let me know there's a bed available, so I can go check myself in.

How crazy is that? ... I know.

Apparently, the Oncology Ward is super full these days. When I saw Dr. H on Monday, the nurse gave me the "on call" instructions and told me that, as of Monday, there were no beds available... but that, by Wednesday, someone surely would be released and there would be room for me.

So, today I got to wake up early and turn my ringer on so I can sit here and wait for the call to come in.

The good news? I don't have to be fasting.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wanna see something gross?

I will show you.

Do you know what that is? That's a BRUISED port area.

I have absolutely no idea what happened when my needle was removed yesterday (I find all things IV/Port/accessing a major blood line vile and keep my eyes closed at all times when needles are going into or out of my body), but something happened.

I had given the nurse firm instruction not to talk to me about what she was doing (I can't even hear the talk about needles, or I lose it... typing this sentence just made me gag... I'm not kidding), so she was quiet. But I did hear her take a sharp breath, and then she pushed on my port - HARD - for at least a minute. And now I have a weird scabby thing below the port and a giant bruise on my chest.

Having this port accessed again at the hospital tomorrow should be a real blast.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Round II

... Is a go.

I had blood work yesterday, and an appointment with Dr. H today. My white cell count has climbed its way out of the toilet and my levels are now high enough that I am approved to be readmitted and re-chemo-ed. (You know I like to make words up, right?)

Dr. H is cutting my dosage down a little this time (taking out a day of Ifosfamide), in the hopes that a lower dose will decrease the chance of the second round effecting my blood in the same way that the first round did. (Also possible benefit: All my OTHER side effects may be lessened as well. Thank heaven, because I'm starting to worry about the acne scaring. ... Bald is one thing. But acne scars at the age of 40 is quite another.)

Round II will commence on Wednesday this week and run four days. (Wahoo! Only four days in the hospital this time.) Three weeks later, on March 17th, I'll have a scan so we can see exactly what the chemo's been doing in there. I'll get the results on March 18th. Once the good doctor can see the CT results, he'll determine if we're continuing with further chemo at my current dosage, changing dosage, changing chemo's, having a hard talk with Dr. G... So many fun possibilities.

How I'm feeling... Tired. Very, very, tired. Most of my side effects have gone away. (Finally! Just in time to start again.) The mouth sores have been gone since Saturday. I haven't taken any nausea meds since Saturday, either. (Double win!) The acne is slowing down, but it's not gone. My bones hurt, something fierce, but that's really the only side effect that's hanging on with a passion, so I won't whine about it.

My hair: Almost all of my hair is gone. It's actually kind of ridiculous, how some areas are hanging on while most of it has abandoned ship. I'm shaving my head with an electric shaver right now, in an effort to look more Kojak than Minion. It's pretty weird to have stubble instead of hair on my head (and only on some areas of my head), but I'm getting used to it. My left eyebrow is about half gone, because I sleep mostly on my left side and my hats and scarves seem to skew to the left, rubbing against that eyebrow. The lashes on the inside of my right eye are gone, thanks to allergies that cause me to rub at that eye more often than my left. I've lost the hair on my legs, but only in patches. The hair on my harms is hanging on for dear life. ... I'm telling you, it's real special.

I'm not real excited about going back into the hospital this week, but I'm resigned to it. (And real - REAL - hopeful that the side effects, both in the hospital and when I get out, won't be as bad this time around.)

I do have funny stories about my appointment with H today, but I'm too tired right now to type them out. (And that, kids, is a major clue to exactly how tired I am these days.) Maybe tomorrow? ... We'll see.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cheep, cheep, cheep

Nice baby bird fuzz, eh?

This picture was taken this morning. That fuzz was all that was left after about 15 minutes of Judy and me pulling on the loose ends of the hair that was still there when I went to bed last night.

Tonight, I'll take an electric shaver to it and clean it up, but who could resist posting a pic of that awesome fuzz?!

Also, I have a song for us to sing together in commemoration of The Big (Bald) Event. (Nope, I'm not even kidding.) This is a collaboration of one Michelle Beal, Judy and my own self.

Sung to the tune of The Popcorn Song 

I woke up this morning, and what did I see?
Very little hair that was left upon me.
Cancer's brought me such a crap surprise - loss of hair right before my eyes!

I could take a handful and make a nest
For baby birds to have to a cushy rest.
I wish it wasn't so, 
But it seems to me, all my hair is going up a tree!

You're welcome. ... And maybe now that my hair is gone, this little corner of the www will go back to something with a little more substance. (Big. Fat. Maybe.) Only time will tell.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Scenes from a hen house

Just in case anyone's been wondering if Judy and I get bored over here...

We don't.

We've been pulling my hair out, strand by strand. (It's more fun than peeling a sunburn, I tell ya! And that's saying something...)

Before it's all said and done (and.... uh... gone), I thought it'd be fun to throw up a few more almost-baldy pics.

That first pic mostly just looks like I'm sporting a receding hairline (aka: "Look, Mom! I finally have a high enough forehead that could pull off bangs!")... but the one just below?

Oh, geeze! Check out the side of my head. THAT's what's really happening over here.

Makes last night's chicken-pecked look seem like nothing! 

Aaaaaaaaaaand, then there's the back of my head. Looks like I've been in a fire, right?

Methinks that by this time tomorrow, my hair will be but a memory.

It's actually been kind of fun to see (and help) it fall out this week. Cutting the length off took all the stress out of it for me. Had I been watching 18 inches of hair fall to the ground, it would have been horrifying. But pulling an inch at a time out of the top of my head has been oddly therapeautic.