18 November 2009

Complaints 1.0

I have had a difficult time trying to come back here and write, because everything I could think to write about was sort of whiny. I have tried to be so positive, and really I still am. But, too bad, so sad, better go get some cheese to go with the "whine" that I am about to share.

1.0 - No one ever lists in possible side effects of chemotherapy that you can have the worst insomnia. It is making me crazy. I even take the medicines for nausea that are also supposed to make you sleepy. Most of the time, when I finally fall asleep, I am waking up every 1-2 hours all night long. I tried going to sleep without any medication, and I was awake all night long. Will I ever be able to sleep on my own again?

So, I think I figured out one of the reasons this is happening. As my husband can attest, I was the kind of person, that would be asleep within 30 seconds of my head hitting the pillow. I realized that since all this started 6 weeks ago, I have not been able to work like I used to. I worked long, hard days in the kitchen. Exhausting work. Now, I lay on the couch or bed like a slug, because I don't have any energy. My body isn't getting tired out, and chemically induced fatigue is just not the same thing.

Did I just really imply that I miss working?

1.1 - I get sores in my mouth and in my throat that make eating impossibly painful. I cannot even drink my favorite Caffeine Free Diet Dr. Pepper, because the carbonation causes too much pain going down. sad face.

1.2 - I have bruising at the nail beds of my finger nails. I thought I must have inadvertently smashed my thumb. Then, I noticed 5 other finger nails with the same thing. I looked up (I am sure doctors hate that patients Google symptoms) and sure enough...this is a potential side effect. Lovely!

1.3 - What short little whiskers of hairs that are left on my head are annoying. Your hair grows out of your head with a nap, like fabrics and carpets have a nap. When those little hairs are forced to bend the opposite direction than how they grow out of your head, it hurts. This happens when you lay down with little hats on, or even just with your head against your pillow as you move through the night. I wish that they would just all fall out already.

1.4 - Nausea. No, I am not tossing my cookies, but I live with a constant mild to moderate nausea. Yuk. It was more fun being pregnant, because at least in the end you'd get a cute little baby.

1.5 - Since I am nauseated all the time, I don't have much of an appetite, so I eat very little. And yet, have I lost even ONE pound? NO!!!!! Enough said.

1.6 - Stupid power port! This port that is in the upper inside of my left arm is annoying. It worked pretty well when they used it the first time for my 2nd treatment, but at my chemo treatment that was just two days ago, I had a different nurse. She stuck the needle in the port area. I was expecting a tiny little pinch like before. NOT SO MUCH! She must have missed the spot. I was in agony. She kept shifting it around trying to tap in and it took forever for her to get it right. I actually had tears come to my eyes it was so painful. It was like she was stabbing me over and over. It stung for about 10 minutes after the fact. And now, two days later, anytime it gets bumped it hurts like the dickens. Ugh. This was supposed to make it easier.

1.7 - Headaches!! no, not just headaches....HEADACHES!!!!I get my Neulasta injection on the day after the chemo treatments. One of the side effects can be a headache. It starts about 3-5 hours after I get the shot. That means I have a headache on Tuesday afternoon and go to bed with it that night and wake up with it Wednesday morning...and it lasts usually until Saturday or Sunday. This is really the most debilitating side effect that I have. They knock me out and I cannot function.

1.8 - Terrible Bone pain! This is a new one for this week. It is a side effect that is listed, but I haven't had it until this week. My joints in my arms, hips, lower back and knees make me look like I am 90 years old when I try to get up and walk. I am pathetic.

1.9 - I learned at my last treatment that when I start the second round of chemotherapy the week of Christmas, that my treatments will be every three weeks. The drug Taxol is just too toxic to administer every two weeks like I have had for this first round. I was not mentally prepared for this. I kept thinking that I only had to make it to February 1st, and now it adds another month onto the chemo process. It just delays the surgery and then the radiation. I got in my head that by May all the treatments would be complete. Now it likely will not be until the end of June.

OK....it's out of my system, and I am done now.

Most days I am completely optimistic. Uncomfortable, but optimistic. I just try to take everything one day at a time. Some of those days are very long, but every day that goes by puts me one day closer to the end of all the treatments.

Next week is Thanksgiving already. I have so much to be thankful for. Truly. The blessings in my life far outweigh any hardships.

I wanted to thank you all for your uplifting and encouraging comments. It really means so much to me. There isn't a day that goes by that at least one person reaches out to me and extends their love. I feel the power of all your prayers uttered on my behalf. Thank you so much.

05 November 2009

Oh yes, it was really difficult!

I had my second chemotherapy treatment on Monday. Patti took me to my appointment. My blood work looked excellent and Dr. Singh was delighted. He examined me, but I could have told you myself that the large tumor had shrunk considerably just with the first treatment. It's working! Good thing, because it would be really tough to go through all the yucky symptoms if it wasn't.

The treatment time was to be about 2 plus hours. There has to be something to kill the time, so Patti brought a book to read to me. She selected the delightful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I have to say, if you are a fan of the Jane Austen classic, and you have a good sense of humor and great imagination, this is a great read. I can't wait to hear the next chapters at my next treatment. Did I really say that I was looking forward to my next treatment?

The anti-nausea meds that they give make me kind of sleepy, so we had to stop after a while. I had a side effect with the Cytoxan that I didn't experience the first time. If delivered through the infusion pump too quickly, it can make your sinuses burn like crazy, and burn they did. It was like the worst sinus attack I have ever had.

Then, when Jan started pushing the Adriamycin, I started feeling really light headed. I have felt this way before, so I knew that my blood pressure was dropping. Jan, my nurse came to my rescue and took my BP and confirmed it. She stopped delivering the Adriamycin and stabilized me. The rest of the time went by fairly quickly.

I had the worst headache the rest of the day and I was exhausted.

On Tuesday morning, my hair started coming out in large handfuls. If I had stayed in the shower long enough, rinsing my hair, I am quite certain that I could have washed every hair off of my scalp. I grew weary of the process and just towel dried my hair. There was a lot of hair in that towel.

I decided to be proactive and called Claire, my stylist for over 12 years, and she had me come to her shop at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening so she could take the clippers to my hair and just finish the job.

Doug and Benjamin and I drove up to Cary. Catherine met us there, as did Christian and Mary. This was my support group.

First she scissor cut my hair to about an inch or so. I dealt with that all right. She began shaving the back first, while I looked in the mirror. I was doing pretty well, until she made the first stroke across the front of my scalp. I put my teared up eyes in my hands. I saw an old man sitting in my chair. It didn't help when my daughter, Catherine said that I looked like my father.

This was hard. Much harder than I thought it would be.

After I wiped away my few tears, Doug planted a big kiss on the top of my head, and then I put on a scarf and a hat. It was pretty chilly that night. We all went to Dairy Queen and enjoyed ice cream to cap off the adventurous evening.

The deed was done, and there is no turning back now.

The shaving of the locks
(warning, it is 4 minutes long)

It is finished.....sigh

It was nice to have my family with me. They kept me laughing, and that is always good. Feel the love. It's all around.