Tuesday, December 29, 2009
round 4 week 1
.... I am up early, of course!! It is just after 4 am and I am fidgety so I get up and throw on a sweater to go downstairs... a few minutes later - I have the kettle going and am neti potting my nose due to a fit of sneezing just prior to rising. I need to occupy myself and so I empty the dishwasher and make a non-caffeinated pomegranate and blueberry tea with a scoop of fiber...... I am feeling good today, just in time for round 4.
The first three rounds consisted of FEC this next three rounds consist of Docetaxil..... in short I am on the FEC-D regime. The fear of the unknown is always anxiety provoking. What will it feel like, how will I cope with any side effects that come up? I don't like having cold feet and hands.... which is why I just cranked up the furnace - 62 degrees is bloody cold!! Will they put the ice packs on my fingers and toes and just leave them there for hours all in a bid to save them from turning black and falling off? Yikes.....
December 29th 2009
My wonderful husband is accompanying me on this next step in my chemo journey. We leave the house early - I never want to be late and the weather is snowy leaving the roads slick so we take my little vibe with the snow tires to the hospital. We get there at 8:40 and head over to the Tim's on the bottom floor for a coffee before heading up to the chemo suites. I have remembered to give Lydia her antibiotics for a nasal infection prior to leaving and now I am taking my third double dose of steroids with the water I have brought with me. I arrive at the chemo suite reception desk and receive my next booking and the pager.... I have brought with me a bag of Hershey's kisses and grab out a handful of chocolates for the busy ladies behind the plexi screen and am met with a group of smiles.... ah chocolate - the elixir of life made better by a cup of hot coffee. I take a seat next to Max and I look down at the paper detailing my next appointments as I shove the pager in my front pocket. What??!! 'Max, they have scheduled me in for the day before our company party and only 17 days after this chemo??' He looks at me and mentions that I should go over and get the appointment changed.... I look at him and think, yeah, there is one good reason why you bring someone with you to your appointments and I head over to the reception desk and explain the issue. No problem, we will bring you your new appointment when you go into the suite. Thanks Max, good thinking. I am now relieved that the only 4 days I will be feeling good will be spent in the company of the people I have worked with for the past 16 years and the friends that I dearly miss.
We head into the chemo suite after a 40 minute wait which is explained by the nurse as she puts in my I.V - the pharmacy which is attached to the chemo suite had a 4 day rest for the holidays and usually put the meds together the previous day... they arrived for work at 7:30 in the morning and were busy mixing the chemo cocktails. I will have to wait a few more minutes as my cocktail takes a few hours to prepare . The suite starts to quickly fill up within a half an hour after getting comfy in the recliner. I am hooked up to the Docetaxil after receiving a few minutes of saline and the nurse reviews the side effects with me and to indicate to her if I notice any changes in my physical well being such as chest pain, nausea or aches of any kind and of course a frosty set of insulated mitts and slippers to wear during the time the Docetaxil is dripping into my veins. The cold instantly takes and bites at the end of the toes and fingers. The slippers are so cold that Max is joyfully scraping the frost of the tips!! This is all done so that the capillaries feeding the appendages will stop the blood-flow thus no chemicals to the ends and consequently save the nails. Apparently you will notice within 48 hours if you were cheating.... the nail beds turn black and the nails should disengage within days thereafter. My hands are still numb from the previous FEC dosage I took weeks ago so the hands do not feel the cold as much. My big toe on my right foot is aching like mad and I ignore it and look around the suite which has begun to fill to capacity.
There is a young woman across from me. She has on a mask and is pulling it down to cough into her hand and then to blow her nose.... I will have to remember to do a neti pot when I get home - the whole premise for the mask is to cough into it... I send Max out to deliver some more of the Hershey's kisses to her and to the lady next to us - he is shy and blushes when the one lady flirts with him. He meekly returns to his chair and chats with me. Another lady is escorted to the end bed kitty corner to my chair and she looks my way and smiles. I smile back and she says hello. The lady next to me also says hello and begins a conversation which at times is hard to hear with all the ambient noise in the room. She is in her late 60's and has had extensive surgeries removing many regions of cancer from her ovaries to her lower and finally her upper GI and stomach. Her cocktails will last a total sum of 6 hours and it begins with three bags of Demerol and then a bevy of other bags..... she says she stays long enough to watch everyone come and go. Sad really when she continues to say that years ago she lost her 35 year old son to colon cancer which had travelled up to the stomach and was given 6 months to live - he managed to pass a year later and left behind young children. If that wasn't enough grief - her young grand daughter was diagnosed with leukemia but managed to survive her ordeal. She tells me that apparently the cancers they have are not related.... makes you wonder how this all happens in one family?! Her husband shows up with a sandwich for her to eat and he is entertaining and quite jovial. They have been through this many times and he kisses her and waves to us as he makes his way down to another part of the building to do his thing while he waits. The woman across the way in the bed has caught my eye and she is saying hi again and I say hi back and smile - she is maybe a few years older than me but hard to tell when the chemo takes so much of your facial appearances. I take in a deep breath and am caught by the fact that the right side of my chest hurts. I take a few more breaths and realize that I am indeed experiencing some additional issues and I motion Max to get a nurse... he is anxious and approaches two busy nurses and I tell him to wait, there will be one freed up soon. He comes back to wait and moments later flags down one of them. She immediately stops the drip and fills a syringe with Benedryl. I am having a common reaction to the chemo and it needs to be dealt with immediately - as the nurse mentions - the body's way of saying Whoa!! I am just a few minutes into finishing the hour long drip and realize that if it had not happened when it did, I may have been walking out of the building when it happened. She tells me that it will take immediate effect and that I should be feeling woozy - no kidding, I think it took about 30 seconds and about the same time that I had to go to the bathroom. Another good reason to bring your spouse with you - he managed to get me there and assist with watching the door and then helped me back into my chair. Now the slurring of the words begin but the sleepiness did not start up right away - I saved that one for home when I passed out for about 2 1/2 hours!! The Docetaxil is done and a 10 minute saline wash is left to run. I have had my blood pressure taken no less than every 10 minutes and I find out that this is the best way for them to monitor how my body is reacting to this drug - it was going up and down like crazy and finally after the Benedryl injection it settled down.
It is finally time to leave at 11:55 am and I am hungry and make a suggestion to head off to McDonald's on the way home. I cross over the room to the lady laying in the bed who has said hi to me a number of times. I place 3 Hershey Kisses in her hand and ask her how she is doing and how many more visits... she is on the same regime as me and has 3 to go... I have 2 to go. I wish her well and to have a Happy New Year. She smiles up and thanks me and wishes me well - perhaps I will see you in 3 weeks I say. We smile again and I am off dispensing kisses to the other patients on my way out. My husband waits at the door and I catch his grin as I place my hand in his. Only 2 more left I tell him...... only 2 more. One day at a time and one step at a time.
Dinner comes by way of Nancy Allen!! Thank you for the lovely dinner. I am on a mostly liquid diet but I did eat some of what you brought. I am sorry that I was out cold when you dropped in - perhaps you will come again when I am up and about!! Sending love and hugs.
William is sleeping over at a friend's house and comes by to pick up some of his gaming equipment with Nick and his cousin. They all traipse into our bedroom where we are coloring with Lydia and Max and Mitchel are watching music videos. I get out of bed to say hi to the kids and the cousin looks at me and expresses his regrets about my illness.... without a breath in between he tells me that his mother has just gone through her journey and had a recent scare that they thought she had a reoccurrence. He might be all of 14 years old but has the look of someone much older when he speaks. I noticed that my children have matured quite a bit since my diagnosis..... diversity has a way of doing that to people, no matter what the journey. It is what makes us who we are and makes us care about others.
I am up early blogging - my stomach is boiling but not nearly as bad and I am not on the crazy anti-nausea meds this time and don't think I need to be. Like everything these days - I just wing it and take what I need when I need it.
December 31st 2009
My memory today and ability to put things together has been extraordinarily challenging. The bone pain has begun in my skull and jawline. I have numb teeth?! Weird feeling and I am slurring my words.... just thankful that I am not drooling .... at least not yet. My stomach is finicky today and what felt comforting a few minutes before causes pain just a few mouthfuls later. I am eating very light foods, mostly soups and hot drinks to get some nutrition in without slowing down my digestive system!!
I manage to lay down before going out for a few hours in the evening to our neighbors house but quickly realize as I take a hot shower that the pain is starting in my shins and knees and spreading upwards. I have been taking pain meds for the past 12 hours in anticipation but they are just over the counter and alternated - Tylenol extra strength and four hours later, an Advil Gel cap. This just takes the bite out of the pain as I am to discover later in bed. The heat waves moving through my body come as quickly as they leave and I find myself instantly soaked. I cannot lie down for long before the mini pain explosions erupt from within my body. Some are deep within the bones and others flit around the muscles in my chest and stomach. It would be akin to experiencing a fireworks display within your own body - not knowing where it will hit next....
January 1st 2009
I get to spend time with Mandi chatting and hanging out on the sofa. It is so good to have a friend drop by and just spend time talking about anything and everything. Dinner was fabulous - the mediterranean salad is now Max's favorite. Lydia had so much fun playing with Ava and loved the stuff she brought over with her.
Saturday 2nd January
I could describe this day in a few words - complete emotional breakdown..... I was left alone too long today - my eldest is always gone out it seems to somewhere but here, Mitchel was at a movie then a sleep-over with a friend and Max had been gone with Lydia most of the day. Sometime around 5:30 p.m., the panic started to well inside and the whole idea of being abandoned and alone struggling to heat up dinner by myself was too much and the body racking sobs began. I tried desperately to get ahold of Max as my head swam, the sweats kicked up and my stomach foamed.... he picked up his phone but I could tell by the sound that he was still at the movies even though he had left at 2 p.m. but he wasn't answering the call. Half hour later he called to tell me that he was on his way but I could barely get out the words that the text message I had already sent said - no longer coping. He rushed in a few minutes later apologizing as I continued to sob uncontrollably - don't ever leave me alone again this long, He held me until I could stop crying and promised to never leave me alone that long again..... this has been my lowest day to date.
Sunday 3rd January
As promised, my husband stayed with me most of the day and the kids joined me for a marathon of 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. Thanks to Montea Sherritt for the lovely dinner that the kids wolfed up and thank you for spending time chilling with me. It is so good to see you and I miss you.
January 4th 2009
It has been a week since chemo and I find that I am still in pain but managing with a concoction and timing that suits my own needs. The pharmacist suggested alternating over-the-counter extra strength Tylenol and Advil every 4 hours but the chemo brain could barely keep track of what I took last without writing it down... never mind trying to struggle in the middle of the night by myself to find the right bottle. I found that if I took one of each every 5 hours, I could keep the pain under control effectively without getting up in the middle of the night.... that being said.... the night sweats seem to be getting worse and the period I expected is still causing pain but has not yet started - it is now 7 days late. Did I mention day sweats as well? Within seconds of a heat flush, I am covered head to foot with a sheen of clammy sweat that makes me feel horribly uncomfortable when it starts to cool. I am not sure what to wear anymore as everything I have on makes me either sweat or feel too cool. Last night, my desperation peaked with the desire to go outside and walk off the belly bloat that had been forming since lunch. I was so uncomfortable that the thought of going through snowbanks with deep leg pain had more appeal than sitting in the warmth of the kitchen tolerating the belly which was growing in size and not emptying into the intestines..... things slow down when you do. The walk, albeit painful to the legs and back was just what i needed and I sucked the cold air deep within my lungs...... ahhhhhhhhhhh so good to be alive!!!!! Max held my hand tightly as we made our way in the middle of the street to walk around the block. We did a good size circuit which finally got things moving in the right direction and made me feel reconnected with the world even though the brain is still on a siesta!
Today is a new day and looking forward to a small home reno project that was planned for quite a while - small job but a needed boost for the morale. The fireplace mirror is coming off and a new mantle and stonework is being put down. Eventually there will be built ins on either side of the fireplace and a multi-media center complete with large screen TV. I am a big believer that everything works out in the long run and that no matter what, it is often best to sometimes follow your heart and do what makes you happy... we all too often put things on the back burner waiting for a better time or when we have more money...... I had my babies when I had so little and still made a good life for them and I went with my instincts and got the house and the lifestyle that my family and I enjoy.... it really is best living life in the here and now while making goals. I am realistic and practical balanced with belief that it all works out somehow.
Thank you once again to the supper club for your support and fantastic meals.... if I managed to miss thanking any one individual it is primarily because my memory these days is short and without the blog - it would be non-existent. It's funny how I started the blog to keep track of my progress and now it has become my own valuable resource. I simply write down the highlights and discuss them with my Oncologist at my next appointment. I hope you all had a wonderful New Year and hope that you put your heart wish out there and that they come true for you. Heart Wish - it is the wish your heart desires the most.... once you acknowledge what it is, it is easier to realize it in your future. Sending love and best wishes this year, and every year.xoxoxo