Sunday, August 31, 2008

Editorial Page:

So, here's my editorial from Sunday's paper. I stuck with a photo with hair - the same one that's to the right of this blog, in fact. (p.s. Don't be too disappointed that my opinions are so inane. Max said I probably wouldn't have written it if I hadn't been having chemo treatments!)

It's been noted by a few of you in letters to the editor that Kennewick's Fourth Avenue is pretty lumpy. What many fail to realize, however, is that it's SUPPOSED to be that way! Don't you realize that we pay good tax dollars to maintain those speed bumps/dips disguised as pot holes and road patch? It keeps traffic to a minimum, eliminating the need for expensive stop lights. It slows down traffic which keeps the neighborhood children and pets safer. So please stop whining - travel Tenth Avenue or Clearwater if you need to cross town. Leave Fourth Avenue to bicyclists wanting a true off-road experience. Or to those pregnant women wishing to induce labor. And to me so that I can cross town without stopping at dozens of red lights!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My five minutes of Fame?

Just got an e-mail from the TriCity Herald. I am going to be highlighted in Sunday's Opinion Page for "Editorial of the Week." Can't decide whether to send them a "before" photo with hair or one of me BALD. Check it out to see which I choose!

Chemo #6

Heather took me to my sixth chemo yesterday - only two more to go. The next one on Sept. 10th. Dr. Chanal gave me 10% less Taxotere than before to see if my hands do any better this time around. The nurse assured me that even though it was less medication, it would be just as effective. I hope so, I don't want to ever go through this again! (I have to confess that the palms of my hands are finally peeling. Sigh. Here I thought I was going to avoid that completely.) Nurse Gloria also said she loves my port (I hate it because it has a large red scar on it and it sticks out so clearly) she says it's really easy to access. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

My parents - ever the studious ones - found an article that mentions Paxil can lead to 50% more cancers. I took that for two - three years. Can I blame the breast cancer on it? I wish I could pinpoint exactly what caused it so I don't ever get it again.

Our ward has brought over meals this week. It's been so NICE! I love not having to cook. Maybe I should hire a cook when I'm rich and famous. (Not any time soon, I'm afraid.) In the meantime, I'll be working on training the kids. (A very hard thing to do since they're all ADD/ADHD and end up forgetting to add the main ingredient, or don't wash the baked potatoes, or get sidetracked and we eat at 8pm.....)

Max is leaving early in the morning to fly to Atlanta to see Stephen graduate from Basic Training. He'll be back Monday. So we'll have the whole holiday weekend to ourselves. Stephen will be staying in Atlanta until October 10th to get his IT training. Max is under the impression that he may get sent to Afghanistan or somewhere once he gets back. I haven't heard any of those details myself. But it's been so nice and "quiet" here with him gone. (He's an expert at stirring things up when he's here.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


While we were out getting some school things Monday, I tracked down some cotton gloves. I wear them when I can... Keeps me from picking at my peeling skin - and noticing them in general. I was surprised that I had the energy to take the kids out on Monday to shop. They each admitted that they'd been praying I'd have enough energy - what angels! Of course their prayers were answered. (After running a few errands on the way to the mall, I sat in the kid's play area while they did their shopping at PacSun and Penneys.)

It's a good thing I have such a large stash of pillows. My head is so hot when I try to get to sleep at night. I flip sides of pillows every couple of minutes, then switch to a different pillow (about 7 of them) until I finally fall asleep (about 1:30am most days.) I explained to the kids - again - that I need the extra hour of sleep in the mornings and they've been better about quietly getting ready for school - after doing their paper routes - until 7am when it's family prayer time. Once I'm awake, I can't sleep until again 1:30am. I heard it's the steroids that keep me wired. They're affecting my blood sugars again, too.

I talked with Tracy who is substituting for me with my student at Kamiakin. Johnny is doing great. They survived without me. Yea! I'll be seeing them -hopefully- the end of September.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Number 29

Friday, Max and I celebrated our 29th Anniversary. Yea! Because I didn't get a treatment this week, I felt confident that we could do some travelling with the boys - to my very favoritest of favorite spots - Mt. Rainier and the Grove of the Patriarchs. I LOVE those old trees. They give me strength - knowing they've endured for over a thousand years. (We found some heart-shaped greenery on the pathway - appropriate for our 29 years of marriage!)

We met up with my friend Renee and her family and their foreign exchange students. We had lunch together at their camp spot at La Wis Wis,
then went our separate ways to explore the most beautiful place on earth! We drove up to Paradise and then to the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Then home. I was pretty well exhausted by then. I lounged around in my jammies all Saturday to recuperate.

My left pinky's fingernail is coming off. It doesn't hurt, but I wonder if others will follow its lead. At least my hands are looking better. Still peeling, but they don't look so scary. I attended our life skills classroom get-together last Thursday and the new teacher and his wife had seen others with cancer go through this hand stuff, so it must be pretty common.

Heather brought home a kitten last week. It's pretty entertaining, to say the least. Between it and my genealogy projects and the Olympics, I'm keeping busy. The kids have been extra helpful this week in doing their chores - alleluia!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grandpa Eldon Harward

Dad called me today and cheered me up. I really needed it since it was cloudy and rainy today - I have a hard time managing when it's not sunshiny out. He told me about his dad who was a sheep shearer (and coal miner.) He said Grandpa Eldon Harward was allergic to the sheep's wool and that his hands and arms would get covered with sores during shearing time. The sores would bleed and look horrible. Dad said to blame him for my rash/skin woes. When I told him it wasn't on my palms (though my fingers are now peeling), he said that Grandpa's never got on his palms, either. So, I inherited this great miracle skin on my palms. I'll be sure to thank him for the mixed blessing when I get to Heaven!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ready? Set! Go Home...

Lorna graciously took me to chemo today. I even convinced her to stop by weight watchers first! I had her drop me off at the cancer center since I go an hour early for the blood tests. The nurses were fascinated by the nasty appearance of my hands. I put the Biafine cream on them so that they wouldn't look like I have leprosy. It didn't fool Dr. Chanal. He decided against giving the treatment today. He says my hands need another week to heal.

I was disappointed. Adding a week to my treatment is NOT in my plans! Lorna picked me up and took me home and comforted me while I bawled. I sure am weepy lately. It doesn't help that the steroids I took yesterday kept me up until 4:30am. I was so wired that the Valerian Root didn't work nor my Restless Leg Syndrome medication. I guess it's good that I won't have to take that today & tomorrow.

Another blessing that Lorna mentioned is that this rash/leprosy stuff didn't go to the palms of my hands. Dr. Chanal kept asking and was surprised that it hadn't. Just under my finger tips. I guess that I would really be miserable if it had!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


This rash or "Palmar Plantar Erythrodysesthesia" of mine (PPE - it sounds like a Church committee of some sort, doesn't it?) happens when the chemo drug Taxotere leaks out of my blood vessels into my hands and feet. I put an expensive cream on it called Biafine 3 times a day. Since it's very itchy, the nurses said I could take Benadryl or put hydrocortisone on it, too. I've also been putting my hands on ice packs to relieve some of the pain. (Rinsing them in cool water feels great!) Yesterday the skin started peeling off of them - they look scary.

Taxotere also causes fingernails to warp or fall off. So far mine are just sore. I cut them short-short just in case. And my tongue is white. Nurse Gloria said it probably isn't Thrush, but it makes everything taste funny. (Doesn't keep me from eating, though.) I wonder what will happen with Taxotere #2 on Tuesday...

It's hard to feel bad about the chemo treatments, though, when I think of a gal at church whose husband died two weeks ago and left her with 3 little ones. I pray for her several times a day, wishing there was some way I could help take away her pain. I'm doing better after being weepy for two weeks (since Mom and Dad left.)

Did I mention that chemo has done at least one GREAT thing for me? (Besides losing 5 lbs last week.) The psoriasis that covered my legs is GONE! I just noticed this week. Yea!

I've seen some blond hairy things on top of my head, too. Is it new hair growing? Maybe it's just lint that's snagged on my sandpapery scalp. Time will tell.
P.S. Anyone want some ripe nectarines? I still have an entire tree full and I can't personally eat all of them myself... though I've been trying!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rashes and such

I got the rash-stuff that I was supposed to watch for with Taxotere. It's on my hands. My hands often ache, too, which isn't fun. I stopped by the cancer center (we were close by for the kids' appointment) and raced in to show nurse Gloria. She took me aside and checked my vitals, etc. since I've lost 5 lbs this weekend due to the diarrhea. They got photos of my hands and said they would call in a prescription for this particular rash and that it would probably get worse before it gets better.

I got some awards with weight watchers today for my newest weight loss. I guess there are SOME good things that come of all this! (But I made it clear to them how and why I had lost the weight!)

I've been waffling back and forth about whether to go back to school (work) when it starts on the 26th or wait until chemo is over at the middle of September. I don't have as much strength as I used to. (Even my purse - the great U-Haul - that I lug around is too heavy for me anymore!) I checked with the school human resources person who does family medical leave. She was so wonderful. (She's new this year. Told me that two of her sisters have or are doing chemo.) We figured out that I should plan to come back to school the end of September. And even that is negotiable. It will be an "extra" month off, and I'll have to pay for the health insurance out of pocket, but I feel better now knowing what to plan for.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Taste Buds

My taste buds seem to have been obliterated by this last chemo. I can only taste "salty". My nectarines are finally "on" and they don't taste the same!

I got nauseated yesterday - day #3 seems to be the ominous day for chemotherapy. But, we managed, between Heather, Kyle and I, to shop some specials at Albertsons. I kept a barf bag handy and let them do all the "work." We saved $230 on our shopping spree!

Another reaction to this new chemo has emerged: aches and pains - like you get with the flu. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! And diarrhea. And, I'm still weepy, which is annoying. I took a call from the new LifeSkills teacher at Kamiakin and ended up breaking down. I'm sure the poor guy wishes he hadn't made THAT phone call!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I've been discombobulated!

Mom and Dad left yesterday after my 5th treatment. It's thrown me for a loop! I've had numerous "cries" today. Talked with Mom on the phone a few times. Kept myself busy sorting papers and stuff and doing laundry. Lorna called. So did my cousin Connie from Los Angeles. Twice. I'm getting cared for.

It's probably because I feel so much better after this treatment than the four previous ones that I even have the ability to feel discombobulated! These last four treatments will be Taxotere. I was so worried about starting the new chemo that I made myself sick on Sunday and Monday. I felt worse then than I do now.

I have to take steroids with the Taxotere instead of one of my nausea meds. (And I'm only having to take Kytril - because I'm supposed to - so I'm not so drowsy.) The steroids combat the fluid that builds up around the heart and lungs with this form of chemo. Dr. Chenal cut the steroids in half because of my diabetes. Still, my blood glucose readings ranged from 440 - 560 - 400's (most of the day yesterday) and ended in the 300's. By 1am I adjusted my pump settings and voila! I woke to a reading of 117. It's been normal the rest of today.

I just need to get used to these crying spells. I know it will take me a few weeks (as it does every time I've had surgery and had Mom to baby me!)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Diabetes & Chemotherapy: Co-Morbidities

Back in June when I began chemo I did an internet search on "Diabetes and Chemotherapy." With all that is out there on the web, I was dismayed to discover only a handful of hits and only one article of substance. The article called the situation "Co-morbidities" and discussed neuropathy (pain in the feet & legs.) Some diabetics get this after having diabetes for years. The article said that chemotherapy can cause this to occur as well. That sums up all that the entire world has published on the subject.

The Diabetes Learning Center had little more to offer. They are aware that the steroids given as part of the chemo throw a diabetic's control helter skelter. With their help, I've been testing my blood sugars every two hours. During the first 8-9 days after a chemo treatment, I also adjust my insulin to carbohydrates ratios. I take almost twice as much insulin with meals/snacks as I usually do. I switch the ratios on my pump back when I start getting low blood sugars, which occur about day nine.

I've been putting the data from my pump into a program. It shows charts and keeps track of how things are going. It looks pretty fancy. There really needs to be a handbook out there for us, though. Surely I'm not the only diabetic (Type I-Juvenile Diabetes) going through chemo. Or am I??? It would include things like how to eat prunes and roughage between episodes of nausea and how much insulin to give for each one. (They're about 5 carbs a piece, but make sure it stays down before administering insulin.) How long to wait for the food to stay down before giving insulin. How to do finger prick tests in your sleep and doing them without gagging at the sight of blood. Knowing if you're racing to the restroom because your blood sugars are high or because you have a urinary tract infection (again.)

Other notes I'd make in general:
*you will lose your hair on your head, maybe not anywhere else.
*You will be nauseous and even throw up a lot, but you will gain weight due to the steroids.
*Take your anti-nausea pills EVERY day, even when you feel great.
*You will be cranky, so go live on a desert island away from all annoying persons.
*Your hair actually cooled your head off way back when, now that it's gone, your scalp will be hot and it will cause anything that it lays on to get hot, too.
*Don't believe it when others say you don't have to shave your legs for the duration of chemo... (I shave the quills off every other day.)
*Acquire a collection of light, preferably funny, movies and books - you'll need these for those sleepless nights (unless you're taking the anti-nausea drugs that knock you out, you will NOT be able to sleep)

Beep beep beep - my pump says it's time to check my blood sugars again. Of course, it's 1:27 am, so what else would I be doing?