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.

Halle-freakin-lujah.

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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

You can take the girl out of the farm town, but...

It's another matter, entirely, to take the farm town out of the girl.

As I mentioned last night, my hair has started to fall out. In patches. Obviously.



And when I stepped out of the shower last night and saw these pink patches all over my head, my very first thought was, "I look like I've been in a chicken fight... AND I LOST!"

What can I say? Someone's seen too many hen house scrabbles in her day...

Judy's been calling it "male-pattern baldness", because, so far, most of the hair I've lost has been on the top of my head. I'm insisting it's "chemo-pattern baldness", because I'm also patchy above my left ear. Also, chemo made it happen. Oh, and I'M A GIRL who just happens to be going bald... in sections.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Day 14

It's Day 14 (since the start of my first round).


Let this serve as the record that my hair started to officially fall out on Day 14.

A whole new level of tired

Hi again. Remember me? The girl who posted something all week last week (even if it was super lame), just to make sure my peeps who are too far away to know what's going on would know what's going on?

Yeah, I got tired.

So tired, in fact, that the post I started on Saturday didn't get finished and thrown up until yesterday morning. I'd posted the pics and was just finishing up writing that Saturday post when I had a double wave of hot and tired hit me at the same time. Judy took my temp and it was 100.2. I immediately removed myself from the blogesphere and spent the rest of Saturday night praying that my temperature would go down, so I could just go to sleep.

Miracles happen. Prayers are answered. My temp never did hit 100.4 (this is the magical number that sends me straight to the ER), and I was able to sleep Saturday night. For 12 solid hours.

And then I stayed in bed all day Sunday, pretty much unable to move.

And then I went to bed Sunday night, slept another 10 hours, and rolled myself out of bed just in time to go to MD and have them take some blood Monday morning.

Oh, and also so I could ask about all these awesome side effects that have been piling on since Thursday (acne, mouth sores that have now started to go down my throat, itchy/irritated skin... the list goes on and on).

And the blood work reveals:

*Low White Blood Cells (It seems that the bladder infection on Friday has been my saving grace, in that I was put on antibiotics that've been keeping me safe while my own immune system has been rapidly making its way down the drain)

*Low Platelets (I told the PA, "No wonder I keep getting bloody noses; I can't clot!" Her response "Yeah, I was gonna say to be careful around stairs. ... But also maybe don't blow your nose too often."

*Low Phosphorus (I did a little Google research and it appears that this may have something to do with my lone kidney... as in, "healthy kidneys work to keep a balance of calcium and phosphorus in the blood" ... but I'm not entirely sure what that's about)

Aaaaaaand, voila! We have a reason for why I am so tired!

As per the lovely PA, yesterday I was "this close" to needing a transfusion to build my levels back up. Rather than re-access my port and literally pour new blood back into my body, I've been put on two new prescriptions - one to build white blood cells and one to build my supply of phosphorus - and I'll go back in for blood work Thursday morning. Depending on what they see, they may call me back Thursday afternoon or Friday morning to do an infusion/transfusion.

Gosh. Will the good times ever stop rolling?!

But hey... at least now we know why I'm so tired. It's my blood. Or, rather, the lack thereof. It can't do everything it needs to do right now, so... I nap a lot. I'm not sure if that's actually helping my blood do what it needs to do, but I'm not real lively even when I am awake these days, so it seems like a good use of time.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Controlling what I can control

As anyone who knows me knows... I like predictability and order. I like to make plans.

Okay, fine... I like to be in charge. (Uhm.... I may or may not be a little bit of a control freak.)

This particular personality trait of mine has probably suffered/struggled the most in the nigh-on-five-year battle with the big C.

And while I have learned to let go of control of many things in my life... I could not, I would not, reconcile myself to letting my long, brown, hair just fall right out of my head. (Also, the dream lives on that I'll find a wig maker in the US who will be able to do what I want to do with my hair.)

So, I made plans to cut it this weekend. 

I had texted The Designated Ball Family Head Shaver (Aunt Cindy) from the waiting room when I was checking myself in for chemo last week, to ask if she could come this weekend and do the duty. (Hair typically falls out 2-3 weeks from the first chemo treatment, and I wanted to make sure I had my hair cut before it fell out. Also, President's Day weekend affords a little extra wiggle room for travel time.)

She called right back - and had to talk to Judy, because by then, the hospital clerk was actually checking me in - to say she should come.

And the plan was on.

I added my cousin Rachel into the mix when I had a wild hair on Wednesday and asked if she would come with Syd. Bless Rachel's heart for dropping all of her many plans for the rest of the week/weekend (and the heart of her mother-in-law who took ownership of Rachel's five children), so she could be here.

I woke up this morning and... didn't wash my hair right away. (Because Rachel had spent the night here, while Judy and Cindy and Rae (Cindy's grandaughter, my cousin Amy's cute kid) slept at Jo's.) Rachel and I sat and talked and laughed and talked and... didn't get much done. (We heart Cousin Bonding.) Until around 11:00, when the actual grown ups came home and made me take a shower so I could wash my hair.

For those of you not in the know... when one is going to donate one's hair for a wig the rules are simple: clean hair, air-dried, with no product in it, bound in real rubber bands (not the fabric-covered kind we actually USE for ponies these days).

Since the official cutting time was 2:00, 11:00 was... sort of pushing it. (It takes my hair around 3 hours to dry. Crazy, right?!)

By 2:00, everyone was here (Judy, Cindy, Rachel, Katie and Jo), but... my hair wasn't all the way dry yet. So, we sat around and talked for a while. Judy made fried eggs and toast for lunch (my favorite), and then we passed around the sugar cookies that Jo had brought (because you HAVE to have sugar cookies on Valentine's Day!).

It was probably around 3:00 that I took my seat in the kitchen and they started putting the ponies in my hair. Because I want to use the entirety of my hair for a wig, ponies were positioned as closely to the scalp as possible. Starting at the top, and going down through my layers (this is when it helps to have cut your own hair, kids... you know exactly where your layers start and end), everyone took a turn in pulling hair into ponies and/or cutting them off (save the Ball Family Designated Head Shaver, because her responsibility is to SHAVE the hair, not CUT the hair).


All in all, we ended up with 11 ponies. They're small, roughly four ponies for each layer. But they are long. (18 inches. Every blessed one of them.) And when you put them all together, it's still enough hair to fill the lap of a grown woman (with... erm.... not a small lap).

Cindy then took hold of the clippers and shaved my rag-tag ponytail haircut into submission. As per the instructions from the doctor, we didn't go directly to the skin. My hair's about 1/4 inch long right now, which is as short as they recommended going. As you may recall from my recent ACNE post, my skin is all kinds of irritated and sensitive these days, and  the thought of razor burn on top of what is already swollen and tight makes me cringe. (Who's kidding who? I have the face of Gollum right now, and didn't want to risk continuing what's happening on my face up onto the top of my head.)



So, that's it.

It is done.

18 inches of hair - a literal lap full of hair - has been removed from the top of my head. On the one hand, it's surreal. I can't believe I'm really here, at this place. But I am. And I'm okay with it.

The truth is, the chemo had already changed my skin - and, by association, my scalp, and, thus, my hair. The hair I brought home with me from the hospital was not the same as what I wore in. That made it easier to cut.

I'm so incredibly grateful for the support system that I have, near and far. 

Today was  a good day. Spent in the company of some of the women whom I love the best.

And now I get to try and figure out scarves and beanies and all of the other head coverings out there, besides hair. Should be a real adventure.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Suckah!

As frequent readers may recall, yesterday I issued a (bold-ish) challenge to come back today to see if I am:

A) Even more of a leper
B) Decided to set some Friday goals
C) My right nostril had completely caved in on itself, and I am now struggling to breathe through a mangled nose

I sure did NOT set any Friday goals. 

In fact, I moved my Friday goals to Monday. And when I mentioned that (via text) to my fabulous cousin Becca, she volunteered to take over my Monday goal for me. (God bless Becca!)

Also, I am please to report that the Acyclovir has almost made my nose whole again. Don't get me wrong. It still bleeds when I blow it (which is semi-constantly), but it doesn't have the throbbing ache of yesterday, and the swelling seems to have gone down. So, that's a win. It seems, at the end of all this, I'll still have a cute nose.

Now, there's something to hold on to!

Which brings us back to A.

Uh, yeah. I sure am more of a leper. An incredibly ugly one. (Note: these pics were taken this morning. I kid you not when I say that the acne has gotten angrier and uglier as the day has worn on.)

Even Judy has remarked on it, "Your face is SHINY. ... And your face is NEVER shiny!"

For real, every time I walk by a mirror, it's like roadkill. "Has it gotten worse, I wonder? I bet it has. Do I want to know? NO! ... Yes. NO! Baaaaahhhhhh! .... It's wooooooooorse!!!"


In the immortal words of Roomie Wood (I texted her the shot below this morning, thinking my ugliness would help her feel better about her swollen cheeks from having her wisdom teeth removed), "Not acne! Not the terrifying puss-filled hills that grow on your face that induce ridicule and judgement. This is enough. I refuse to let you suffer any more!"


Seriously. Acne stinks. Esp when you're 40 years old and going through a smattering of OTHER chemo-induced ailments (this just in: I have a raging bladder infection).

But, as Judy and I keep discussing... would ya take a gander at how thin my neck looks?! It appears that the acne, at the very least, is a distraction from my double chin. So, there is that.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Goals

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of resolutions. (Okay, so I sort of HATE them. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that.) I don't go in for the whole New Year's Resolutions game. Those resolutions are too far out there, their end date is beyond my ability to see them coming. It feels totally useless to me to make changes in January that are going to get me to a certain point by November.

I know, I know. I'm not rational. But that's how I feel about resolutions. I hate them.

Now, goals? Goals, I can get behind.

But they have to be just for ME. Group goals are for the birds! (Says the girl who may or may not still be suffering from PTSD related to group project assignments in High School Biology.)

I set completely irrational goals: By Thursday this week, I will be FINE!

And I set slightly more achievable skills: On Wednesday, I will put on real clothes and take a walk around the pool.

The good news: I am totally fine with adjusting said goals when I can't meet the objective.

Because on Wednesday, all I could manage was getting dressed. That, alone, winded me.

Well, that and opening a week's worth of mail. It had been piling up on my kitchen table since I went into the hospital and since the only things I like to pile up on my kitchen table are hand-dipped chocolates and fresh-cut flowers, I had Judy bring me the mail and I sat in my chair and opened it. And I did fairly well. For about ten minutes. (Insert laugh snarky laugh here. You're not laughing at me, kids. You're laughing with me. ... This body is ridiculous, and I know it!)

By the time I got to the bottom of the mail, I had a runny nose (I'm sorry to say that it was the exertion of opening multiple envelopes/packages... I'm so lame). I went to bed last night, thinking my nose was still runny because of the dust I'd breathed in while I was opening care packages from around the world (I kid you not: people mail me stuff from around the world. I'm pretty much the luckiest girl ever, in that way.) I woke up this morning, with a sore throat, itchy ear, right nostril so swollen I can't breath out of it, and....

So much for being FINE by Thursday.

It appears that I made myself sick, opening the mail. They weren't kidding when they said my immune system would be tanked!

But I did feel better, nausea and anxiety-wise, which was most of my initial "I will be FINE on Thursday" manifesto.

So, "ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED" on that one. Sort of.

My new Thursday goals are: Shower (check) wash hair while you're in there (check) get dressed (check) send two semi-important emails (check on one, but not on the other... I'm just too tired to write well, and this one's going to be sharing a part of my soul, in hopes to get some help on the wig-maker front) oh, and see if you can't get outside and take a walk around the pool (the jury's still out, but it's only 4:00, so it's likely to happen)

Fun new things that my body did against my will today:

My skin is sloughing off. It's vile. As in, I got out of the shower, and my entire face was white and peeley. WHAT THE CRAP?! Two hours later, I walked past the bathroom mirror and I have acne the likes of which this face hasn't seen since 1987. I'm sure it's just toxins coming to the surface of my body, but still. Ewh. I can't even...

I can't bend over - to say, water a plant, or tie a shoe - without my heart racing. And then it takes an hour or so of sitting still for my heart to calm back down

My bones are starting to hurt. Not all of them, but some of them.

I can hardly wait to go back to MD Anderson on Monday for my lab work and walk my happy little self up to the triage center on the third floor and see what they have to say about these new developments in my life.

The good news:

Food is still delicious. I don't really get hungry anymore, but when food is presented to me, I love the crap out of it. Such a blessing!

I have been awake all day today. (Always a win!)

I still love sitting still. ... Gosh, I'm so grateful (ALL THE TIME) that I am not a person who gets bored. I love that I can live in my head for hours on end. Sitting still in the quiet never gets old, and I'm so incredibly grateful for that.

Check back tomorrow (if you dare) to see if

A) I'm even more of a leper
B) I decided to set Friday goals
C) My right nostril has completely caved in on itself and I'm now struggling to breath through half a mangled nose

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Days Later

I'm pleased to report that I've been actually AWAKE for this whole day. I'm still so gol' darn tired that I can't manage to do more than sit really still and breathe, but I've been awake. Which is more than I can say for the first two days home.

Monday, I was home around noon and woke up for meds every six hours. Other than that, Sleep City. Tuesday afternoon, I had an appointment with MD to get a follow-up shot (something about increasing the white blood cells). I was up long enough Tuesday morning to shower and wash my hair (I'm sorry to say, it's already changing). I got back into bed and slept until Jo came to taxi us to the doctor.

Had a brief scare at MD when my initiall resting heart rate was 120. Sat there for a while, while they watched my vitals.

Today, really, all things considered... has been good. I didnt get dressed until 3, when I was PLANNING on getting dressed by 11. On Monday, I'd given my body an ultimatum of being back to normal by Thursday. (I figured a week for a round of chemo should be sufficient.) Now, I'm still hoping for Thursday... but I've amended my "normal" on Thursday to "being strong enough to send two emails and walk outside".

The amount of sheer tiredness is... exhausting. I've honestly NEVER been this tired in my life. And I've been plenty tired. I'm burning a low-grade fever at all times, trying to push the poison out of my sad little body. I've somehow lost 10 pounds in a week, all the while, having literally GALLONS of fluid pushed.

I don't get hungry, but food still tastes good when I eat it, and I am grateful for that.

Luckily, no mouth sores so far.

I still have my hair, but plan to cut it in ponies - to preserve it for a wig.... still looking for that wig maker, so if anyone knows something, please feel free to chime in - and then we'll shave the head this weekend. Hair generally falls out between 2-3 weeks after chemo, but I have a friend who lost hers at 10 days. I'm quite confident we'll be able to get the hair bagged and tagged before it starts to fall out.

I am tired, but I'm grateful for all the medication that's made this as easy as it could be. I shudder to think what cancer patients had to go through twenty years ago. The pre-meds and the post-meds have saved me!

Monday, February 9, 2015

My current view


I'm home.


Halle-freakin-lujah!

I'm so incredibly grateful for medications that cover side effects. While there have been hours of misery, it certainly could have been worse.

I'm home now, with Doctor's orders to lie low and take all the anti-naseau and anti-anxiety meds that I can, So... I'm gonna do that now.

I'll check back in in a couple days when I've slept off the poison.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The last bag

Okay, so what?

It's the next to the last bag... but we believe is celebrating small victories here!



This is the next to the last bottle of Mesnex, which is what coats my liver, my blabber and my kidney. My last BRUTAL chemo ended around noon, so now we'rw just in coating phase.

As for me and my house, we're just grateful for Zophran and Phenegran, because every time the nausea kicks in, one of both of those drugs knock it right out!

I won't lie. This hasn't been a cake walk. While I am incredibly grateful for all the premeds can do, there have been moments of waking up and thinking, "Oooooooh... this is what i especting." The nausea has been frierce. The anxiety has been incredibly high. The tired is more of a "bone deep" exhaustion than I could have imagined.

But I'm alive. And I'm okay. And I should be home tomorrow. (Expect frewer posts the next few days. I've been told the side effects hit HARDCORE and take 28-72 hours to clear.)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Afternoon of Day 3

It's not pretty.

In fact, I'm just going to ask forgiveneness for typos here and now.

It's bad. The "little bit shaky" from yesterday has escalated straight to "this is exactly  what Parkinson's looks like on TV". I'm hitting my phone in an attempt to scroll. Words are in my head, but won't come out right."

Dizzy, Nasueas, but if iI still completely still, it gets better.

So, that's it for today.

Friday, February 6, 2015

2nd Morning

First things first... I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! (Except the 3-4 times the nurses had to wake me. But still, steady sleep.) I woke up at 8, reached for my phone, and... realized I had little control over my shaky little fingers. (You wouldn't believe the amount of time it's takenme to get this much out.) My verbal skills are also compromised.

Could be an early side effect of the chemo (neurological side effects are possible), could be a high dose of the steroids they're giving me to help with the infection of the lining od my bladder, which is another awesome side effect.

the upside of whatever this is... I'm tired enough to sleep. So; i'm gonna go domemoe of that.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hospital Food

It's not all bad, kids.


I don't know how much longer I'll be able to eat citrus, but I'm telling you right now, I plan on finding that out the hard way. Esp when said citrus is GRILLED and served on a bed of lettuce with sliced strawberries, blueberries that are as bug as a nickel, grilled chicken, pinions (and saving the best for last), blue ccheese and a raspberry vinaigrette.

Since i had this salad for both lunch and dinner today, I feel like doing a double shout of gtratitude for all the pre-meds they IV'd me with before they started the chemo. While i know the mouth sores are coming, and that they'll stop this kind of shenanigan... IN ITS TRACKS... I'm just so grateful that I can still taste food, esp a medley of berries and one of my favorite cheeses.

12 hours in

I saw my beloved Dr. H yesterday. Turns out my heart looks good! (Surprises all the way around the table on that one. I am, after all, my Mother's daughter. Also, I would eat steak and bacon every day if I could. I am SO not a heart-healthy eater. .... Could someone please pass the butter?)

With the final blood work and the echo results showing that I have an irrationally healthy heart, I got shuttled over from MD Anderson to Banner Gateway to get checked i.

It was probably 5:00 before I had a room. Around 6:30, I noticed that the port area was looking a little peaked (by which I mean: peaks and valleys of angry red welts). I'd slathered myself with numbing cream, as per the instructions.  Hours after.'d received, and then covered the area with plastic wrap to keep it sterile (also per the instructions). 

Too FREAKING bad I'd forgotten that my body has a reaction to plastic-on-skin that is UNPARALLELED. As soon as Judy saw the rash, she was having flashbacks to trying to raise this little girl who'd get bandaids growing into her skin and other such dilemmas.

So, my sweet nurses had to wipe ALL the numbing cream off (not that it was working anyway. I'm pretty sure the reaction with the plastic made it defunct) and start up my port. Bless them. It took 3 qualified medical personal, one mother who was gently rubbing my hand in an effort to keep calm, and one incredibly anxious-and-in-pain patient roughly an hour to get that dang needle in, but it's stuck. And now I'm attached to a IV machine with the highest number of output tubes I have EVER seen.

For real. See that list? THAT is what they've run through me in the last 12 hours:


All those little boxes on the far left? That's inside of me now! ... Well, except for what I peed out. And I am here to tell you, there is A WHOLE LOT of peeing to be done when gallons of liquid are being pushed through your veins.

Which leads me to my next fun fact: Did you know that the toxins that are in chemo stay LIVE TOXINS as they travel through your body? I was told this morning that, for up to 48 hours after my last treatment, I need to treat my body fluids as toxins. Rubber gloves, the whole nine. (I may or may not have peed my pants a little last night and was just gonna was them out and let them dry and re-wear them today. ... And then the nurse figured out what I was doing, went and found some rubber gloves to put my pants in a sealed bag, watched me wash my own hands TWICE, and told me that I need to be REALLY careful with the fuilds - all of them - not to let anything touch my skin during chemo and for 48 hours after treatments start. Who knew?!

Other than the "poisoned pee" scare, I'm doing alright. They have me all kinds of pre-meds for nausea, before they started the hard drugs, and they appear to be working. I'm tired and my stomach's a little weird, but both of those things are normal for me, so I'm not complaning.

Word on the street is that I'll be here for a full five days. Four days of chemo, followed by a 24 hour infusion that I'm sure will be wildly helpful, even if no one's told me what it is yet. Visitors can come if you're a healthy adult. (Warning: If you havent had a flu shot this season, be prepared to wear a mask.) No flowers, because the pollen messes withthe air quality and I'm officially a cancer patient, living on the oncology ward. But you can send balloons. Or raspberry cream pies from Kneader's. ... Whatever floats your boat!

I'll try to check in at least once a day so you have current data. I have my phone, and so does Judy, if there's something you need to reach me for.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's World Cancer Day...

 And I have some big plans.


Coincidence that my chemo start date got moved to World Cancer Day? I think not.

I formally declare war.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The chemo trio

As we close in on go-day, I decided it's time to disclose the name(s) of the chemo(s) I'll have streaming through my body in two very short days...

Obviously, this isn't everything there is to know. But it's the high (and the low) lites.

Enjoy the crap out of this list of good times...

Doxorubicin

Side Effects
Orange/red/pink urine (ooh-la-la)
Mouth sores
Decreased heart function
Fingernail and/or toenail changes
Decreased liver function
Fever or chills
Abdominal cramping

Ifosfamide

Side Effects
Kidney problems (including an awesome bladder infection that will cause bleeding when urinating, "this can occur soon after medication administration or weeks later"... note that this bladder infection is separate from the orange/red/pink urine caused by the D drug)
Neurological effects ("generally goes away after a week or two" ... oh, goodie... just in time to start another round in week three)
Heart complications ("usually reversible")
Sterility 
Electrolyte abnormalities ("symptoms may include: fatigue, muscle weakness, numbness/tingling, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, shortness of breath, confusion or irritability"

Mesna

Side Effects
Joint or muscle aches/fatigues
Headache
Allergic reaction (this is one of my favorites, "Go to the emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms: swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, dizziness or disorientation, irregular heartbeat, sudden shortness of breath, chest or throat tightness"

And then, there are the side effects that are the same, across the board and for every blessed chemo they'll be shooting me up with:

Low blood cell counts
* Risk of developing an infection may increase
* May feel more tired
* May bruise or bleed more easily, blood unable to clot

Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite

Diarrhea

Hair loss

Which brings me to... 

I've had a few people ask why, exactly, I'll be camping out at the hospital for days on end when I have a treatment. Well, I'll tell ya... it's that damn Ifosfamide and its effect on ye olde kidney.

Since I lost my left kidney to Tumor #4 back in 2012, this part of the blend is my particular danger zone. The literature shows that the administration of this drug is typically pushed in a 3-24 hour infusion. ... Dr. H has decided he'll start my infusion with a 72 hour spread. The thought process is that by spreading that dose out over several days, my lone kidney should be able to eek its way through the experience. They'll take my blood and test my kidney function morning, noon, and night to make sure we're not killing my kidney as we try to save my life... but the long and short of it is that it's that particular side effect of that oh-so-special-in-so-very-many-ways chemo that's made the decision that my infusions will all be inpatient. 

I've been told to expect to be in hospital for 3-5 days, every treatment. (And, knowing my body like I do... I'm expecting it to be around the 5 day mark. Every blessed time I've ever been admitted, something "interesting" has come up that pushes for an extra two or three (or seven) days in the big house.)

So, there ya have it. Some info on the chemos. It's pretty grotesque, right?

I know there are all kinds of medications to combat as many of the side effects as they can. I'm not sure yet what kind of cocktail I'll be given, but I do know that H is pretty big on pain control and have every confidence in the world that he'll make this as easy for me as he possibly can.

Like or not, I'm about to come up against a "Drink Me" bottle. And while I happen to know that the stuff inside said metaphorical bottle is, in fact, poison... I also have hope that it will take out those cursed cancer cells at the same time it kills my hair follicles and wrecks my fingernails.

Gulp, gulp, gulp!