Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just found this!

My computer was hiding these photos, but I finally found them. This is Tracy and Me at my second chemo treatment way back when. She was so good to come and sit with me. I absolutely have the best friends ever!

Apricot Jam anyone?

Today, Mom, Dad and I attacked the apricots - from my neighbor - with a vengeance. We've got some dehydrating and the rest (6 batches) were made into apricot-pineapple jam. What a lot of work! This morning, we also got two of the kids off on a pioneer re-enactment trek for four days (yea!) It took us all yesterday to get them ready. Well, it took so long because I have so little energy. (And Mom had to put a new zipper in Jacob's sleeping bag which turned out to be a sewing nightmare lasting til midnight. And we won't even go into Taija's pioneer-woman costume!!)

I felt bad yesterday - the neighbor cat pounced on a baby robin in our yard and the entire robin clan chased it. We got in on it, too. But the cat came back! She returned several more times and finished her deed while we were at dinner. The poor robins sat on the branches of our weeping birch chirping their sad story until late. I was sad, too, because I just found out that my lifeskills classroom teacher at Kamiakin is leaving. I just adore her and her way with the kids. I worry what I will return to when I finish chemo at the end of September. Another loss is my brother and sister-in-law and their four kids who moved to Wyoming today. And, the kids' doctor (ADHD specialist) is retiring next month. And, Mom and Dad are returning to Utah next Wednesday. What am I to do? I'm savoring every waking minute with Mom and Dad. I've loved having them here. We're sending them home with apricot jam for everyone... (is that kind of like leaving zucchinis on someone's porch??)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sick today

I woke up this morning and realized right away that something wasn't right. I've got a raging Urinary Tract Infection. Never had one like this before. I got some good antibiotics and something else for the "discomfort." Heather got me some cranberry juice, too.

Mom and Dad are planning to return to Utah August 6th. Mom's bum knee needs to be checked out. It's been terribly painful for her the past week. I will really miss them. I love their cheery "Good Morning!" first thing in the morning and their love and care throughout the day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Yesterday I finally got my 4th chemo. It went pretty well, considering all we had to do to get it. I was also told the results of my MRI (on my head due to headaches.) She said there was no cancer, but there is swelling of the cerebral spinal fluid (which could indicate a rare disease, but I don't think it is. Mom insists that I check with my family doctor next time I'm in.) I guess that would cause the headaches - or maybe it's that all 3 anti-nausea meds list headaches as a side effect!

The routine that should have taken place for yesterday's Chemo: An hour before chemo, you have to go and get blood-work done to make sure you're healthy enough to get chemo. Then you have a doctor's visit wherein the doctor or his assistant checks you over. If all is good, you have chemo in a large room with curtain dividers. You can now take the first anti-nausea pill (the 3 pills cost $450 - unless you have good insurance, which I do.) They start the IVs going into my port with saline, Kytril (anti nausea) and throw in some steroids. Next is the red adriamycin which is a very toxic drug that can damage your heart. Afterwards is the clear Cytoxan. This one takes an hour to dispense. When they're through, I get more saline and herceptin (blood thinner). That was the last time I have to do that routine. For visits #5-8, I will get Taxotere, another drug. I have to have steroids with it (day before, day of and day after) which will do a number on my diabetes.

What happened yesterday: Before chemo, I woke and found my blood sugars were in the 500's (normal is 80-120). I gave me a ton of insulin but it didn't work. I changed my pump site and discovered that the canula leading into my body had gotten twisted. No wonder nothing worked. With the new pump site, I gave me more insulin. Blood sugars went higher! After the next try, the insulin did its thing. But, it still was in the 400's for the doctor's lab report.

I told the doctor's assistant about my chest pains and headaches. Shouldn't have said ANYTHING. She wanted to make sure everything was okay, so before chemo I got to go across the street to a radiation place where they checked my port with a dye test. It worked great, but the equipment they hooked up to my IV wouldn't come off and the doctor spent 15 minutes using various tools to pry it off.

Mom and Dad then took me to Kadlec in Richland to get the EKG for my heart (chest pains). That took us forever because the papers requesting the EKG had inadvertantly requested an Echocardiogram and they were booked for the day in that area. After an hour or so, the receptionist got that mess straightened up, I got the EKG and went back to the Cancer Center to get the chemo. I didn't get out until 4pm - though I had started the day at 8:45!

I'm sleepy due to the anti-nausea meds. But am doing well otherwise. We went to weight watchers this morning. I've gained 2 pounds in the past 3 weeks. Decided it must be the steroids I'm on. (But, I've lost over 25 lbs since Christmas!) Then we detoured to Value Village and bought Kyle some shorts and levis (it's his 12th birthday today!) Got some things for Stephen at Target (and smaller pants for me!!!) and mailed him a package. Got home and there was a message from the Cancer Center. Instructions on taking the steroids for next treatment and information about the EKG - fine except for an insignificant finding of "Right Bundle Branch Block" (try to say THAT 10 times in a row!) This block is insignificant (I looked it up on the internet - indicates damage to the heart possibly from previous heart attack) and was actually discovered before my surgery when I had my first EKG in May. So, that's me so far this week!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Don't you love it!

Ta Da! Look what Mom and Dad finished last week at our house - shelves in the garage to store all our STUFF!!! It's like a miracle happened! THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!


I tried helping Tuesday this week to put things on shelves, but my body said, "NO!" and began "throwing up." I just can't push myself like I used to. It's as if the chemo dictates: You have X amount of energy - and that's exactly, to the letter, all I can get from myself. Heather wanted me to save today's energy for her. She was going to the movies with her friends. I tried, but by 3pm I had to take a nap and then I just couldn't get it together to go out. Sigh....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Since you asked...

A lot of you have asked how I am. "Well, I'm pretty good." That's my pat answer. Nice and simple. Cuz no one REALLY wants to know the monologue that runs through my head:

Good news:
*Made it to church today
*Stephen is surviving boot camp - had a rough week, but they didn't put him in the brig - this time
*I still have eyebrows

Grumblings: (STOP! This is the part NO ONE wants to hear, but it's my reality lately)
*The metal taste in my mouth affects everything I eat...

*My toes are always COLD. The rest of me can't decide and fluctuates back and forth between hot and cold - sometimes I'm both at the same time.

*My skin is DRY - lotion fragrances (even unscented) leave me nauseous

*My sandpapery head feels weird and it sticks to my pillow cases (I'm sprouting porcupine quills up there!)

*One or all of my medications give me headaches, eye aches, chest aches, "the willies" (Restless Leg Syndrome) and "the jitteries" (Restless Whole-body Syndrome)

*And Lastly and most grossly: having gas and constipation as a side-effect of every single one of my medications means I get to down prunes, milk of magnesia, etc. while I'm nauseated (Yes, the alternative - Senokot - sends me into spasms of cramps which in turn leads to explosions from both ends)

Well, you asked how I was.... and now you know.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garage Sale Anyone?

Mom and Dad are building shelves in the garage right now. (You know how we Mormons have all these buckets of wheat, beans, rice and potato pearls stocked up!) It's looking super so far. The kids were a tremendous help and threw - literally - all the garage contents all over the front lawn. Can't beat help like that. People have stopped by asking if we're holding a yard sale... We should have told them, "yes! Please help yourselves..." It's actually embarrassing to see all the junk, I mean stuff, we've accumulated. Hopefully, not all of it will make its way back into the garage.

I'm still practicing not puking this morning. I've managed to get down some toast and watermelon. I've dreamed of tapioca pudding... enchiladas... funny how I can crave things and be nauseated at the same time.

I also walked around the block this morning. Sometimes I can make it around twice, but if I get too tired, I get more nauseated.

And P.S. The MRI went well yesterday, I clutched my barf bag the entire time and luckily didn't need to use it. If I didn't have headaches before, I surely do now with all the noise that exam produced!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chemo #3

I am 3/8ths of the way through chemo. Yea! The side effects are headaches, constipation, metal taste in my mouth, nausea - of course, my hair loss, high blood sugars, heartburn... I am getting an MRI on my head this morning due to the headaches. The doctor wants to be sure it's not something else. Of course, that sets my mind to wondering..... I won't know the results until my next chemo/doctor appointment in two weeks. I'll practice assuming it's the medications - actually, a known side effect of all 3 anti-nausea meds.

I take my anti-nausea medications to my chemo appointments. This time I thought I would be so clever and put everything in my purse... To keep from looking like a bag lady with several bags in tow. The problem with that was that everything kept falling out. I lost my Emend ($450)and Phenergen (not $450) both anti-nausea meds, a ball of yarn and crochet hook and my blood glucose monitor... I didn't realize this until they asked me to go ahead and take the Emend. (They wait until after the lab report and the checkup shows that I'm healthy enough to get the chemo before starting the anti-Nausea medications.) Horrors. My purse had coughed up its contents and they were nowhere to be found.

Mom had dropped me off, so I called her and she found the Emend and glucose monitor under the seat of the car. The other two items are still missing. I was upset and crying over the Emend (and just being in the cancer center now sets off my nausea!) so nurse Gloria gave me medication to calm me down. It put me out and I woke after it was all over. Phew! (Gloria made sure that Mom - not me - had the Neulasta shot ($2,000) to take home. I take it 24 hours after the chemo to build up my white blood cell counts.)

Mom and Dad have taken on the goliath task of building shelving units for our garage. I can't believe it! They got the sheetrock up yesterday. Wow!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our 4th of July

Breast Cancer isn’t for Boobs! My friend Carol in Colorado told me this phrase – she, her sister and her cousin are all in various stages of treatment for breast cancer. While it is totally unfair and unthinkable that so many, so close would go through this awful predicament, it is also cheering when someone knows exactly what it means to be nauseated, tired, hairless and craving an oddball item of food all at the same time. She’s been a well of wisdom for me! So glad that her last treatment is next week (I’ll bet they sing “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” for her like they do for those here at the Tri Cities Cancer Center when they “graduate.”)

Our air conditioning gave out on the 3rd. It was hot all day. Very hot. I sweat an awfully lot now that I am bald. Mom and Dad took me out to Panda Express (where it was air conditioned!!!) … mmmmmm. Afterwards, we bought blocks of ice to put in front of our fans to help cool the house. Thankfully, we found a repairman to come out and fix the problem the next day – what a nice way for him to spend his 4th of July holiday…

On the 4th we went up to Dayton to spend time with the Rickords relatives. I was worried that my baldness might disturb the younger ones. Nope. Hannah and Lynae painted my head in red, white and blue! In turn, I painted stars on their cheeks. We were very patriotic! Later, the boys and I went to see the fireworks in Pasco. I love the colors, the noise and the WOW!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's Gone...

It’s gone. After shedding heavily for a week, Heather shaved the rest of my hair off around 11:30pm Monday night. Just a bit of peach fuzz left. (Tues. pm: Max was gracious enough to take the electric razor to me... )

The dogs barked when I came in to go to bed! The cat ignored me. I look like the King of Siam in “The King and I”. Mom says that I was brave. Was I? Really tired of changing clothes and sweeping my bathroom floor maybe… My bed is full of hair. So is my laundry basket. Have some vacuuming to do....

The McFlurry is gone, too. Did you know that Oreo McFlurry’s turn purple in your stomach? I HAD to have one, though! Max took me out tonight to quell my doldrums… This makes it one more day of nausea than last treatment.

Have I changed much in 48 years???