Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's Up With the Doc 37? - One More Stumbling Block

Well, as usual, no news means the last few days have been a little rough. Wednesday I was hoping to get over the lingering nausea and fatigue from Alimta on the 20th, but instead it brought new chest/back pain. I took a little Ibuprofen at work and that seemed to control things. I had had a stupid little dry cough since the weekend. When I got home on Wednesday my temperature was 99.5 so I called the doctor on call before taking more Ibuprofen (the pain was worse again). She said to go ahead and to call my regular doctor on Thursday if it was still bothering me. I had no temperature elevation early on Thursday, but the pain was really bugging me so I called the doctor and he, of course, told me to come by the office. On the way to the office (one hour drive from work) I developed a shaking chill. My temperature was 99.7 when I got to the office but 102.2 before I left which bought me cultures, a chest xray, IV fluids and IV antibiotics. My fever was gone by the time I went to bed Thursday night but I had been ordered not to go to work on Friday so slept in. By mid morning my temperature was 100.7 so it was back to the doctor's office where we fought some more about me going to the hospital. We settled on a CT angiogram to rule out pulmonary embolism (it did) and more IV fluids and IV antibiotics. The cultures were negative at 24 hours so he let me go home. My temp was 102.7 by the time I got home last night and I felt awful, but pretty confident that this is a viral syndrome so I kept up my alternating Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen regimen and I feel a little better today and no fever. But really? Enough already. Hopefully by Monday I'll be feeling more like myself and be able to enjoy my week before chemo a little bit.

The good news is we've actually gone a few days with no new snow accumulation and I can get up the driveway reliably. Oh, and my anniversary gets closer and closer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's Up With the Doc 36? - I Feel Great

I have felt really great for the last few days - 95%, I think. I even shovelled the walk and front stairs yesterday. Yesterday was also chemo day and I am starting to feel the creep of nausea and fatigue so I wanted to claim that 95% while I still could. Because my white count went so low last time I will also get Neulasta today, which is likely to add to the achiness I'm experiencing from the shovelling yesterday. Mostly, I just wanted to get my "I feel great" out there.

The tournament in Lancaster was a blast. All three teams wound up in the top half of their age division and gave the coaches a good idea about what needs to be worked on before we head for DC next month. Hannah played a lot and played well. She and Philip are now deeply mired in midterms. The week will be capped off by Hannah's seventeenth birthday on Friday!

Robert and I have our last quiet, uncommitted, just us weekend for quite a while coming up. I foresee fires in the fireplace, movies on the TV and maybe a little crossword catchup as well as plenty of Robert's good cooking. We have to run Chester to the vet on Saturday for a nail trim - they're trying to desensitize him but boy does he hate having anyone mess with his feet and a pissed off 100 lb dog is no fun to deal with.

I just finished Pride and Prejudice for the gazillionth time. It always ends the same way and I always love it just as much or maybe a little more. Next is a Jane Eyre redo. My current audio book obsession is Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series. Still working on Lindsay's quilt - I hope to be appliqueing squares by the time she and I go to Canyon Ranch next month.

My oncologist confirmed that the next scan will be after my third Alimta treatment - so February 24th. Until then we just keep checking blood counts and liver and kidney function tests. My anniversary is coming up in March and I am just so very grateful to still be here and feeling well. My list of things to look forward to for the next three or four months is as follows:

January 24-25: quiet weekend with my husband
February 14-16: volleyball tournament in DC
February 21-23: Canyon Ranch with Lindsay
February 28-March 1: volleyball tournament in Rochester, NY
March 14-15: volleyball tournament in Schenectady, NY
March 14-22: Emma's spring break
March 28-29: volleyball tournament on Long Island
April: bulbs blooming!
May 16: Emma graduates from college

Keep up the good work - your thoughts, prayers and wishes are obviously some powerful mojo and I appreciate them more than I can say.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's Up With the Doc 35? - Feeling Good

87.5% - that's what I give myself today. Which really is pretty great given incurable cancer, radiation therapy complications and chemotherapy! I've had decent sleep the last three nights. My neck is a little achy but not so much that I've needed anything since 500 mg of Tylenol (you're welcome, Kathy) yesterday morning. I'm not very hungry but not nauseated. My energy level is better every day and I actually feel positive and optimistic with a smile on my face for the first time in I don't know how long.

I'm at work today and had an interesting ride in. There is blowing, dry snow with nothing sticking to the roads but that didn't stop the SUV/truck hybrid in front of me from skidding all the way across the road and slamming into the guardrail on I-95. I honestly can't figure out what happened to him. Touching my brakes didn't cause any skid at all. There were a couple of accidents in the direction opposite to the one I was traveling. But I made it safe and sound and we seem to be running a special on DOT physicals today. Plus we have cake because it's one of the nurses' birthday!

Tomorrow I check in with the oncologist to make sure my counts are good to go for chemo next Tuesday and then Hannah and I take off for a volleyball tournament in Lancaster, PA. As always, that's a great diversion from any cares I may have.

So, let's see - the only things I can ask for as far as prayer and thought targets are that my counts are good tomorrow and, as always, concentrate tumor cell killing thoughts on all the stupid tumor cells in my body so the next scan, whenever that may be (late February?) will bring good news.

Wish Hannah's team good luck and I'll check in next week after chemo.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's Up With the Doc 34? - The Turtle Shell

A telephone conversation with my sister last night reminded me that it's probably important for me to let you, my support group, know something about me. As she put it, "I know that, with you, no news is NOT good news." She's right. When there is good news I will broadcast it far and wide and as soon as possible. The same is true with really bad news, as you will all recall from last March. However, when the news is only modestly bad I withdraw. When I am stressed but not fighting for my life I pull arms, legs, head and tail into the turtle shell and hunker down for the long haul. Right now is definitely one of those times and really has been since at least early December. So just this once I'm going to lay out all the petty little complaints. I'm going to whine and let you know why I'm safely pulled into my shell.

First is pain. This is something I have struggled with to greater and lesser degrees for the last couple of years. When I went for my physical in November 2007 I told the doctor that everything hurt. My left thumb was the first problem but has been pain-free since it was injected almost a year ago. My right shoulder pain was the very worst of it until my third injection in July and has not bothered me significantly since. Then came the neck pain starting in September. That finally started to ease off with the radiation therapy last month. Now, with nothing at all for pain since last Friday, it's a mild, niggling thing that makes me keep repositioning my head to try to find a comfortable spot. The throat pain that came on midway through the radiation therapy is no longer awful, but has not resolved completely and hurts to swallow anything. This morning I woke up with nasty low back pain - probably because I gave up and went to bed with some Alka Seltzer Night cold medicine, which gave me a wonderful night's sleep, but nine hours in bed is just too much for my back. So my pain inventory today is neck 3/10, right shoulder 2/10, throat 2/10 except when I swallow and then it's 5/10 and low back 7/10. I just called my doctor and told him that I really need to be able to take something besides oxycodone (which makes me drowsy, dizzy and nauseated) and we compromised on a little bit of Tylenol.

Second is fatigue. Self explanatory, really, but just so much not me. My anemia is worse since the Alimta and I'm sure that is contributing. It's not so bad that I can't get out of bed but I have to force myself to get up and move and nothing sounds interesting or exciting to me. In addition to fatigue, I just flat out have the blahs.

The last thing I'm currently struggling with is Alimta side effects. My white count is dangerously low as of Monday night so I received a Neupogen injection yesterday (watch me hit myself in the head realizing that that's probably the major contributor to the back pain) and started an antibiotic. I'm once again avoiding raw foods and trying to stay away from sick people (interesting proscription for a doctor, right?).

Basically, I spend pretty much every day putting one foot in front of the other and hoping tomorrow will be better. And being dissapointed when it is not. I was thrilled when I woke up this morning after a full and restful night's sleep. Then the back pain made itself known. They told me three weeks on the throat - it's been three weeks and five days. A little cold may be contributing to that and my voice is a little better today. Maybe by next week? I would still say that I'm operating at about 75% of my best, a four cylinder engine running on three. I really hope I can at least look forward to some glimpses of 90-95%.

So anyway, I warned Robert about the withdrawal at the very beginning of this process. I become terse (and everyone knows THAT is not my normal state) and just do what I have to do to get through the day. I hope it doesn't reach the point of incivility. I hope I haven't offended anyone. There's really not anything anyone can do to help me and so I don't reach out and ask. But please know that your thoughts, prayers, emails, blog comments, cards, and letters help, even if I don't get around to thanking you for them. Thank you all for sticking with me.