Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A week after my chemo....

I have to say that, over all, I’ve had a pretty good week. It’s been a week now since the 1st dose of this 2nd round of chemo, Adriamycin.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but they told me the most common side effects were mouth sores, nausea, and fatigue.  Perhaps it is because I’ve just had one dose, but the SE did not really occur.  Certainly, the mouth sores were not an issue.  Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but occasionally, I would say that I got a little queasy.  Mostly, I just lost my appetite.  Nothing really sounds good to eat.  That makes it really hard to cook.  Thankfully, Guy’s friend from Alabama is still here, so they want to eat out a lot.  Nothing in the restaurants sounds good to me, either.  I did fix some home-made chicken and noodles one day.  Instead of my home-made noodles, which I always make, I had purchased a bag of noodles from the Amish nearby.  It was not the same, but it was OK.  Guy had made a great big pot of chili a week ago, but what usually is very good to me, has not been very appealing.  I guess all this is good, because I’ll not gain a lot of weight like I did with that 1st round of chemo.

The day after the chemo, I felt great.  I realized that all the little aches and pains (including my pesky side ache) were all gone.  But I discovered they all returned after the steroids of the chemo-day wore off.   The next day (Friday), I did not feel good – was dizzy, tended toward diarrhea, shaky.  Then that night I discovered that I had forgotten to take my Cymbalta the night before.  Those were all SE of Cymbalta withdrawal.  ARGH, missing one day of that pesky pill threw me all off!!  I’m still tapering off of it; I’m half-way – 81 beads left in, 81 beads taken out.  It is a slow process.  But Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were pretty good days with just a tad of queasiness now and then.  I get sleepy pretty easily, so fatigue is once again an issue.

Yesterday morning, I got up and ate breakfast.  I was trying to decide if I wanted to take a shower or just sponge off.  I started feeling a little weak, so thought it was not wise to get in the shower.  As I finished sponging off, I realized that if I did not get to the bed, I was going to faint.  I hadn’t had one of those spells for a very long time, but it sure hit hard.  By the time I felt good enough to find my BP cuff, my BP was 102/66.  I usually run 120-130/70-80.  It took a long time to get dressed, but once I recovered, I felt fine the rest of the day.  This morning, I thought the same thing was going to happen, but it was not as bad.  My BP was still low, so I held one of my BP meds.  I went to the ladies’ Bible study and did OK, but took a long afternoon nap.

One VERY good thing I’ve noticed this week is that the spot on my cheek has definitely lightening and recessed.  Just last Sunday, it was still very dark purple, and the spot was bulging to the place where I was afraid that it might break open.
This is last Friday.

This is today.

The spot on my forehead, too, seems to be shrinking and acting like it might scab over.  I still have a lot of redness on top of my head and down onto my forehead and around my eye, but I’m absolutely amazed at the progress after once dose of this chemo.  I sure wish I could look inside my right lung and see what those 3 spots are doing!  And I hope there are no more developing in my liver.  Tomorrow, I go to the infusion center to get labs drawn.  The next week I see Dr. Page and get labs, and the week after that, I go to see Dr. Powers in OP.  I don’t think he plans to do a scan at that time – I guess he’ll decide then when to do the next scan. 

So far, I have not sewn a stitch.  L  There is so much I want to do.  I want to make some of those reading pillows.  I have several of the embroidery designs to do it, but one of the issues is that when I unpacked my Bernina 830LE from the moving boxes (original boxes), the foot pedal and power cord did not get packed into those boxes.  I can’t imagine why or where they must be.  I still have a lot of boxes labeled “quilting” that I have not opened.  The other issue is that half of my sewing stuff has been moved to the basement from the ground floor bedroom.  There is twice as much room down there than in the bedroom.  But there are 3 large bookcases and 4 smaller bookcases that need to be moved down there from the bedroom, so I can get all my fabric put in them.  Neither Guy nor I can move them, so we are going to have to call the movers we used to move into this place.  Last weekend, Mark worked really hard in the garage and took the boxes from the south side of the garage downstairs to the storage room.  Wow!  He worked so hard.  It was a lot of boxes.  I was afraid he would be sore for days, but I guess he is in pretty good shape!

I’ve never been this late decorating for Christmas.  I got my favorite nativity set put up.  This is the one Jeannine gave me several years ago, and I just love it.

I’ve never had a place without a mantel, so it is a bit challenging to decide where to put my decorations.  I put the nativity set up on the piano.  Our living room and kitchen are one big room, so I still haven’t decided where to put the Christmas tree.

Guy’s friend from Alabama is still here.  They’ve been going out every morning and evening, so Marion can get his deer.  It’s been a frustrating time.  He had one chance to get the big one last week, and his gun just “clicked” – something about the ammunition he was using.  Today, Guy was up at the home place (out at the farm), thinking he would flush them out and down to Marion down south.  Marion should have been with him, because Guy flushed the big one out, but he took off another direction.  Last week, the weather was nice; this week, the moon has been shining BRIGHT (the Super Moon), it has turned cold and WINDY – not good deer-hunting conditions.

You know, you watch some TV, and you see the “beautiful people” and what is important to them.  Some of it may have been somewhat important to me at one time, but all it takes is a major disease in your life to put things into perspective really quickly!!  You find out right away what is important in life.  I was also watching the fires in California.  You put your whole life into a big beautiful home, and it’s gone in a few minutes. Tragic in so many ways…..

Whether this cancer is fading due to the chemo or all my prayer warriors (or both!), I do not know.  I just know that I’m VERY grateful for every day that I see improvement and for every day that I am not sick.  And I give God ALL the glory.  He is my constant Companion.  On days that I’m tempted to focus inward, I remember how precious my devotional book is, and how He speaks directly to me through it.  I never take my prayer warriors for granted, either.  How VERY thankful I am for each one of you!!!!!  I know there is power in prayer, and when you say you pray for me, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that!!

As always……I remain in His hands……

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

1st Chemo of round 2……

This morning I called Dr. Page’s office early to see if they were going to start me today.  She said that they did get the ECHO back, and it was just fine, so they would take me as soon as I could get there.  Since I had just got out of bed, I cleaned up as quick as I could, got dressed, took my pills, and ate breakfast, and we took off.  We got there about 10:00.  There was only one other patient there when I got there.  The nurse that took me was filling in from Salina, a town about 20 minutes north of McPherson.  The other nurse there said she was new – been there about 3 months.  She came from 8 years in an NICU, so she is not a new nurse.  Kelly accessed my port easily and got blood, but when she tried to draw my labs, it just didn’t flow freely.  She finally deaccessed my port and got a bigger bore needle.  That worked very well.  That process took quite a while, so the whole thing took much longer than anticipated.  In the future, it will take about 1 ½ hours instead of 3.  After she drew the labs, while we were waiting for them to come back, she went over all the orientation to their center, over all the meds I would be getting and the side effects.  Each week I go in for labs, and then I’ll have the Adriamycin every 3 weeks.  At that visit, I’ll get labs, and then I get a steroid IV, and a shot in my stomach, then I’ll get the chemo. They have a new med, an antiemetic (nausea), Sustol, that they give in the fatty part of the abdomen.  It is thick and lasts for about 5-6 days.  They numb the spot before giving because the bore of the needle is large since that med is thick.  She said that they have really good results with this med, and most don’t have to take pills afterwards.  I’m all for that!  They also give Emend IV before the chemo to prevent nausea.  So, they cover nausea pretty well!!  Then the “Red Devil” is hooked up, and it takes about 45 minutes.  
She said that they prefer to called it the “Red Warrior” since that is more positive.  The chemo is red.  She said it would turn my urine red, and it might turn the skin of the area that has had chemo red, too.  I don’t care what color it is or what they call it – all I care about is that it goes out there and KILLS EVERY CANCER CELL IN MY BODY!!

Since one of the side effects is mouth sores, I loaded my YETI cup with crushed ice and took it with me.  By the time they got the chemo started, the ice was perfect – and not a drop of water in the cup.  I chewed on the ice chips the whole time to constrict the blood vessels of my mouth to decrease the chemo getting to the area.  We’ll see if that helps.

I've heard of split personalities, but don't have a name for this.  

So far nothing has shown up on the right side of my head. Thank you Jesus!!

On the way home, I got SOOO sleepy.  I don’t think it was any of the medication, because steroids pump you up.  When I got home, I walked Annie for 10 mins, made a strawberry rhubarb pie, went to a church soup supper, played the keyboard for the congregation to sing about 10 Christmas carols and came home.  I’m not nauseated (Praise the Lord!), and only feel just tired.  I think that is just from a little bit of stress from the whole day.  I didn’t feel particularly stressed, but just the newness of everything was tiring.  Next time, hope it is a piece of cake!

Guy’s friend and former coworker is here for a visit from Alabama.  He is an avid deer hunter (well, an avid hunter PERIOD), and he and Guy are all set to go after what they hope is Mr. Big tomorrow!  Marion has had this trip planned for over a year.  When turkey season came along last year, I was sick and kind of spoil his trip to get a turkey.  The previous year he had been here in September (before all my surgeries started) and got two big turkeys.  At that time I had baked a strawberry rhubarb pie, and, not ever having had rhubarb before, he thought he had died and gone to heaven!!  J  So, of course, when rhubarb was in season here this summer, I laid in a supply in the freezer, anticipating his coming at this time for deer season.  So, the pie is made!

I really need to go to bed early tonight.  Have a bit of a headache (side effect from the Sustol, they say).

Thanks so much for all of you that prayed for me today and pray for me each day!  I simply couldn’t make it day to day without my prayer warriors and my God.

As always…….I remain in His hands……

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Update on tests and chemo…..

(I have no idea why the first part of this has a white background!)
I saw my PCP this morning about this left side that is still giving me fits. Pinpointing the location, he thinks that the "pop" felt (the 3rd week of Oct) is likely a separation of the cartilage and bone on the lowest rib. It most likely happened originally due to being weakened by chemo....... and my age. (ARGH!) A couple weeks ago, it was getting a little better – enough that I didn’t think about it all day long.  I probably reinjured it taking boxes downstairs. L Since that time, it has become a real thorn in my side – literally!  I’ve had 2 CT scans since that time – one he ordered at Hutch and the other Nov. 6 in Kansas City – both of which were negative as far as this side was concerned.  I asked if an ultrasound would show anything, and he said, “Probably not”, but he would order one.  So, I had that, and it was negative.  He said to just take anti-inflammatory pills for a few days (which I was told in Alabama to avoid due to my kidneys but he said my last kidney function test looked pretty good), and put some heat on it.  AND not carry boxes downstairs or do anything that aggravates it!  These things take long time to heal, and my body is not in an optimum healing mood right now!!

I was able this morning to pull up my last CT scan details from KC to show him.  This was the first time I had seen those myself.  This is interesting because it is not what my oncologist told/showed me when I was there for that last scan.  He had just come from talking with the radiologist, but apparently when the final results were read and published, it changed a bit.  Here is the report on my chest (I’ll put definitions in ( ) for those who are unfamiliar with medical terminology.):

Lungs and Pleura: There has been development of a tiny 4 mm (0.1 in) nodule within the right upper lobe with probable central cavitation (Cavitation is when the center of the tumor dies) on image 26 of series 2. Small 5 mm subpleural (situated or occurring between the pleura (a serous membrane that envelopes the lungs) and the body wall) nodule within the posterior right lower lobe on image 37 as well as a small subpleural sub-5 mm nodule within the right middle lobe on image 39 have also developed. No pleural effusion (an escape of fluid into a body cavity).  Chest Wall and Osseous (bony) Structures: No destructive osseous lesions are seen.

So, before, I thought I had one tiny spot on each lung, but the final reading showed 3 tiny spots on the right lung.  That was a bit unsettling.  The one good thing (if there is any) is that the spots are all on in the right lung – far away from my right side pain – thus this pain I’m having in my left side is highly unlikely to be cancer. Praise the Lord for one blessing at least!!

I was able to get my ECHO of my heart moved up to 11:00, and I even got in there about 10:45.  That would have been a piece of cake had I not had to lie on my left side the whole time.  That was not comfortable, given the pain is on my left side, but thankfully it didn’t take long.  I told the tech that the results needed to be called to Dr. Page’s office immediately upon being read.  He said he would put a note on it.  On the way home, I called Dr. Page’s office just to alert them when the ECHO had been completed.  She said they had put a note on the order to called immediately with the results, too.  She said to tentatively plan on starting the chemo tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.  I hate to miss Bible study, but the doctor is not in on Wednesday afternoons.  I suppose waiting one more day might not hurt, but I’m just so anxious to get it started.

My face is really getting bad.  Just one week has made a big difference.  
Here is 7 days ago.

Here is today:

I’m just hoping this one place on my cheek does not break open and start draining!  And I’m praying it does not get into my left eye since the “rash” is coming down into that area near my eye.  
You can see the reddened area down my temple and near the outer corner of my eye.

Here is the normal side.

I would sure hate to think of losing the vision in my left eye!!!!!!!!

Before we left Hutch, I went to the infusion center to check in with my favorite nurses.  One was not there, but I talked with the other one and told her that I had changed to Dr. Page in McPherson.  She hated that I would not be taking my treatment there, and I hated it, too.  The nurse that worked for Dr. Haenel was there, and she said, “Oh, don’t you just love Dr. Page?!?!”  I said that I did and thought it a bit strange coming from her.  Oh, well, they all know the situation there, and I’m sure they are aware that several have left and are going to Dr. Page now.  They asked me to stop by now and then to let them know how I was doing.  I told them that I would.  Anda told me that this chemo I was going to take was stronger than the one I had taken.  She said to prevent mouth sores, keep ice in my mouth the whole time I’m getting the drug infusion.  I was glad for that tidbit, because I had not read that anywhere, but it makes sense.

The chemo I’ll be taking is Adriamycin, and it is a common chemo agent for lots of different cancers.  As I understand it, it is a “push IV”, so it doesn’t take long, and I think it is every 3 weeks.  It is red and will turn my urine red.  It is more likely to cause nausea than the 1st med, so I’m to take a nausea pill every 8 hours for 48 hours.  I really don’t like nausea or vomiting, so I sure hope that pill works. I’ll let you know how the first dose of chemo goes.  I just want to get it started. 

I’ve been blessed to have this 4 ½ months off.  I’ve felt good (except for this pesky side!), and I plan on feeling good through this next round, God willing.  I appreciate all your prayers more than I can say!!

As always……..I’m in His hands…….