Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chemo log 9 - boob alert

I have under my skin one unhappy expander. The tale begins Thursday July 8th, around 10:00 AM. My visit was anything but routine, this was my first visit to see him with the boys and no other adult. The kids would have to go with me to my appointment and either hang out in the waiting room or go in to see the Doctor with me. *******Quick note to all the people who have volunteered there time to help, this schedule change was totally last minute I really didn't even have time to whip out the phone numbers********I really didn't mind the idea of taking the boys to Phoenix for the day, it seems like they are growing up so fast, summer is going to be over before we know it . I am however terrified that maybe for what ever reason, their behavior during my 20 minute office visit could leave a lasting impression on the Doctor's office or staff, and not in a good way. The ride down was pretty peaceful and I prepped the boys for what exactly would be expected of them. They are very smart and knew exactly what kind of behavior I was looking for. We get to Phoenix and it is 112 degrees with monsoon humidity weighing heavy in the air. This is my anti-climate, not only do I hate the heat but I start to suffocate with all the moisture. I feel like a rat that has to scurry as quickly as possible from space to space. The time it takes to help the kids get out of the car becomes impossibly long. The walk to the office building is the 1st half of my marathon, the second would be returning.

We enter into the Medical Complex, greeted by that friend to all air-conditioning. The elevator ride is always a highlight for the boys and they take turns pushing the buttons. We enter the office and the strategy is divide and conquer. Corbin is to sit tight in the waiting room, armed with his LEGO Starwars book. Mason is to come back with me to my fill. Mason and I go back when the nurse calls. I am not really sure how this part is going to go. I have done this fill thing so much, but not with my little boy. I remind myself that this is a medical journey, one that the boys are on as well. There is more fear in the unknown for myself as well as them. I put on the robe, Mason instantly asks "Are you going to take a nap mommy?". I could of sure used one at that moment. We wait together like every Doctor visit of his life, this is really not so different. Dr. Berardi arrives in a few minutes with the saline, we have our customary chat. He and I are not in 100% agreement on when to stop filling the expanders. I want small and perky, his vision is somewhat larger.

The fill goes pretty much as scheduled. Mason asks a few questions, "Does it hurt Mommy?", "Why does it look like a bow and arrow? (the butterfly used for the fill)", "Does that make them bigger?" We are all sitting in the room and chatting, Dr. Berardi makes a comment like " It's like filling up water balloons." Mason thinks that is hilarious, and he feels very big for being a part of this. After my fill Dr. B notices my left breast mound is kind of red and splotchy. He didn't seem to notice it at the start of the fill. I wasn't to worried, I told him I walked through an inferno to get to the office, and my general Dr.'s office anxiety was probably heightened with both the boys being with me. He asked me if I had any chills or felt feverish??? Not really, I leave with orders to watch for redness, fever and chills.

The boys and I stop for lunch at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I start to feel horrible, food doesn't taste good, it's hot I am tired. I try to relax and get the boys to eat. We then make a quick stop at the import store for mom, and we start heading home around 12:00. We have to stop in North Phoenix for a bathroom break, great, it's only a 112 outside. I check my breast there and it is red and hot. I tell myself to calm down it is only the heat and I drive home. We arrived home around 3:00, I am completely spent. Thankfully my friend Dani is at my apartment when we get home and she helps my unload the car. I go directly to the couch and take my temperature 99.5. I call the Dr.'s office and he immediately calls in a prescription for an antibiotic. Dani to the rescue, she goes to the pharmacy to pick-up my prescription and a pizza for dinner. I call my oncologist to make sure the new prescription will not interfere with my chemo. It's official I am under the weather, I call in sick to work for Friday. Then I begin to sit and try to get better............ I have really been doing to much of this.

This is the first health scare since I have recovered from my original surgeries. My temperature hit 101.5 at one point and that is the magic number where they hospitalize chemo patients. I really didn't want to be admitted to the hospital, who ever really does? I also did not want to delay my next chemo, that was scheduled for the following Wednesday. Then of course there is the worst case scenario with the expander infection, that of course would be removing the expander and starting the whole process over............... This very serious course of medical events caused me to hunker down and heal. How exactly do you do that? The only things that seem to work are take your medicine, sleep, eat, drink water, and breathe (of course). Seriously it's like trying to sit around and watch my hair grow. Very boring with a side of dull. By Saturday (7/10) my infection had not improved enough my Dr. put me on and additional antibiotic. My friend Jen came over and helped clean my apartment, fortunately for me cleaning is not on the list of how to heal quickly. Later her husband and boys came over for a little swim, and to hang out with my boys. I appreciate the help and the company as do my kids. I am well enough to sit around and do a little something, just not much. Jen invited us over for a little BBQ for dinner, very casual, food and trampoline time for the boys. I have become that dinner guest, the one that eats and will take my dish to the kitchen but no longer am able to help with the clean-up. Jen and Danny don't seem to mind and their help to my family is priceless.

By Sunday (7/11) my infection seemed to be receding. I know this because I was told to outline my infection with a sharpie so that I could monitor it better. My fever had been managed with Tylenol, but the redness in the skin was still there and it was still hot to the touch. Once again, another day of laying low with the kids, waiting to get better.

Monday (7/12) I took my second trip to Phoenix in 5 days. I am told to pack a bag in the event that I need to be hospitalized because of my infection. The next line of defense is IV antibiotics....hmmm thanks but no thanks. Luckily Dr. B feels like the oral antibiotics are working, I need to take them for 14 consecutive days, I can handle that. He is however not sure whether I should have Chemo on Wednesday. I am suppose to talk with my oncologist and see how he feels. More medical wondering on my part. I am determined to get this A/C Chemo under my belt, it is the last of this type and I have scheduled our summer vacation for the last week of July in hopes that I will be strong enough to handle the rigors of LEGOLAND.

Tuesday I return to work after what seems like the longest weekend of my life. My day is pretty ordinary and I have very little stamina after such a sedentary weekend. I just keep thinking, heal, heal, heal, I really want to have chemo on Wednesday......what a mantra but treatment makes you feel that way.

Wednesday (7/14) finally arrives and Kate is my chemo buddy. I am scheduled at 8:30 in the morning. I have a power-port in my chest which is used to administer the chemo and draw blood. It seems whenever they try to draw blood it doesn't work. Drawing my blood is the first course of events, so the Dr. can go over the results and give me the yea or ney for treatment. There is the usual attempt to draw blood via my port. Followed by me waiting for the lab nurse to draw my blood conventionally. This part makes me anxious, even typing about it makes me gaggy and nauseated. One nurse tried to draw my blood and missed the vein.........aaargh.............I don't have the stamina for this. Not to mention it is pretty painful. Finally the regular lab nurse draws my blood, slight prick and I focus on other things and it is pretty much over. The whole time I am praying please let me have treatment today, please let me have treatment today.

Drink water and breathe.....................

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chemo log 8 crummies in the tummies

It is official I finally puked. My third chemo treatment has left me weak. The schedule was a little mixed up this week due to the holiday weekend. I received treatment on Wednesday (6/30) instead of the usual Thursday treatment. Thursday seems to be a better plan as it allows for me to only have one day of work post-treatment, followed by two days at home to recover. This week I was scheduled to work Thursday and Friday after treatment. Thursday was okay, I was definitely moving slow but I didn't have that burning desire to just lay down. Friday on the other hand was another story. I woke up to my morning cup of super strong java, and I just couldn't get moving. I sipped my coffee slowly and finally headed upstairs to get dressed. By the time I finished with my make-up, I started to get a little belchy. The next thing I know I am throwing up my cup of coffee. Fortunately I felt a little better after and decided that I would try to work. I popped a nausea pill, which I don't like to do because they make you drowsy and I headed to work. I never managed to get the momentum necessary to make it through this day. I tried to drink the crummies away with tons of water. I tried to eat the crummies away and nothing seemed to help. I ended up leaving a couple of hours early. The drive from Chino Valley to Prescott was perhaps the longest drive of my life, all I wanted was my bed and pillow. Upon arriving home I crawled into my air conditioned bed room only to sleep the sleep of a sick person.

The sleep was fitful, full of discomfort but the kind that is on the cellular level. It is hard to explain how I feel, not quite feverish, just generally unwell. The only thing that seems to help is time. I basically slept from about 3:oo until the next morning. I awoke Saturday feeling much better.

I forced myself to rally Saturday morning and take the kids to the 4th of July parade. I was on the fence whether I should go or not. The parade is usually steaming hot, a big no no for chemo patients and lots of sunshine another big no no. We would of course have to walk there and back and I don't have the strength to carry a kid if necessary. It seems like I am always having this conversation with myself "relax take care of yourself" or "live a little", I opted for the live. I made sure to stroll slowly to the parade. The weather was absolutely perfect, a slight breeze prevented us from overheating, and a sunhat that was more like a personal umbrella protected me from those wretched UV rays. I have these great beach chairs that sit low and have backpack straps, I packed down one for me and the boys carried our picnic blanket down for them to sit on. We took down some snacks and a couple bottles of water and were ready to jump in on the festivities. We found a little gap in people across the street from Cupper's which seems to be the general area I have always viewed this particular parade. We settled in and began spectating. Parade watching is one of my favorite spectator sports, you wave, you clap, you stand for military veterans, you cheer, you laugh, you get to see all our politicians and if your really lucky they will give you toothbrushes with there names printed on one side with "God Bless America" on the other. I don't really know what it is about parades that touches my heart, maybe it's the participants putting it out there to be a part of this community??? I love to see all the families come out to watch. I love the propaganda, I got a reminder to sign the boys up for soccer(I actually need this), an invitation to a gem show (free rocks for the kids), flyer for the Prescott BBQ days (I didn't even know this existed) and flyers and stickers for every politician running for office anywhere in the state of AZ. I love that they want to shake your hand, and that they want your vote. Now mind you I am not that easy and it takes more then a handshake to get my vote. I like to size up the politician, and the posse he brings with him. I could go on and on with my political parade theories but that is all they are theories. JD Hayworth was one of the heavy hitters for the parade this time around, and he looked even less trustworthy in the flesh. It takes a lot for him to pull that off but he managed it, I of course would have denied the handshake if I had been given the opportunity, but graciously accepted the toothbrush :) Then there is the candy thrown at the spectators, the kids love this part. The boys wave their American flags frantically anytime some one comes by with a basket of something in hopes that they will have candy. Once they get the attention of the very red faced parade walker, sometimes said person will run over for the candy hand-off, these are usually mature parade people who realize that hard candy can be lethal if thrown. Then there are the younger parade participants who just toss the candy in the general direction of random spectators, generally these tosses land a few feet shy and there is a frantic mob of children scrambling for any treasures. They are treasures for certain a blueberry dum-dum some how tastes better when bounced of the pavement. There is of course a certain amount of risk with being a spectator. My boys have scrambled out past the safe zone for a lone piece of candy, only to have a parade volunteer reprimand me about the dangers of large animals, and slow moving vehicles possibly squishing my children. It's a chance we take though, year after year. Parades are also about the anticipation, you never know what's coming down the road next and the Prescott 4th of July Parade is two full hours of fun.

I kind of went off on a little tangent there......

Did I mention it is also very important to drink water and breathe................