Saturday, June 30, 2007

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

As I was reading some of the booklets I picked up at the radiation oncologist’s office, I was moved by one of them that advised to keep a journal. Well, that’s what a blog is isn’t it? Well, sort of. And I intent to use this one for that purpose. So don’t be surprised by the mood of this entry.

I'm not sure I can do the rest of this treatment. I really don't. Perhaps I should quit reading about radiation therapy. I am really scared. The cautions about the effects are really nagging at me. Plus, I feel that my support system in G is dwindling. I tried to open a dialog last night, but there didn’t seem to be much interest.

I am angry that this treatment is going to take over my life for the next two months. I guess the spoiled brat is coming out - in spades! I was used to having to be available after teaching for 29+ years. But now I am used to having some Mondays free for travel.

I am worried about my eventual reconstruction surgery, and that is one surgery I really want. My surgeon left some tissue so that reconstruction would be easier. That’s great, but the problem is that extra tissue is uncomfortable - especially under my arm. I am so worried that there will be permanent damage to the skin making reconstruction impossible.

I was able to make it through chemo without considerable nausea and so on. From what I was reading, that is possible with radiation. I was able to keep mouth sores away. I have mouth full of crowns that worry me. The booklets said that dentures may not fit properly with radiation. Will my crowns be affected as well?

I just sounds like radiation is far worse than chemo. I just don’t know that I can do all this for another two months. My attitude and will have just gone terribly south. I think the best thing is to stop reading about what may happen. Ignorance may be bliss. I need some bliss.

Friday, June 29, 2007

What a night

Being a person who can never leave well enough alone, I was sitting on the couch perusing a booklet I picked up on radiation therapy. Now this was after I went with K to buy an infant car seat she found on Cr**g’s List. That was a trip. A trip from hell.

I don’t like her going to meet unknown people (in my mind they crazed killers who are looking for a 9 month pregnant woman to kill and take her unborn) to buy these baby items. She called about 7:30 and asked if I was too tired to ride along. I agreed to go. Got me out of doing the dishes!

She was to go to a gated community. We flew by it the first time, and had to turn around. We were chatting and trying to figure out the instructions for the gate. Her first two attempts were wrong, plus she inherited her father’s lack of mechanical or logical abilities.

Just as the gate was beginning to open, we heard a sound from the back seat that sends horror into hearts. Lady Bug was vomiting. She just sat there and up it came - all over the seat and K’s business signs.

My daughter is never prepared for things like this. With two children, you would think she would carry some tissue or paper towels. Nope! Not a thing but a couple of used napkins. So there we were. Lady Bug was covered, the seat was covered, and the box of signs was full. Now my about to burst pregnant daughter was getting sick too.

We got Lady Bug out of her shorts and K found a shirt (?!?!) to put over the seat. And we continued on out pursuit of the car seat.

We got to drive home with the windows open with the steam of Swamplands caressing out skins all the way home. That was the only way K wouldn’t add to the stench of the van.
Of course, I gave Lady Bug chili and a wiener for lunch! Not good coming up several hours later.

Back to the pamphlet. As I was reading, it said that there could be scans! Plural! Oh no!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The (now) dreaded PET scan

Yesterday I just flat ran out of gas! The PET scan was really more of a drain than I ever could imagine. The one I had six months ago wasn’t bad at all, but this one was different. Plus I had Lady Bug from the minute I got home until her dad FINALLY decided to pick her up at 4:45. If he continues this "stuff" there is no way I can keep the new one when she arrives. But that’s another story.

Today we talk about the dreaded PET. Normally, PETs are not done on Wednesday. That put fear in my heart. I knew a change from routine would put a monkey wrench in the works. I was supposed to be there at 8:30. I am accustomed to being there about 9 since the lab is just across from the oncologist. I was concerned about traffic, so I got there 15 minutes early so I wouldn’t make things harder for the tech. I waited in the lobby and went to the door at 8:30. Closed, locked and no lights. Well . . .

I walked back to radiology. The sweet receptionist began calling around for me. About 9, she told me they were there. I went over. The new development was that the lights were on. The door was still locked.

I knocked, knowing all the while Lisa (the tech) could not hear me. Just as I was getting ready to go back to radiology, she came in to open the door.

All the things to get ready were the same, except this time I had to wear a hospital
gown that was made to fit Paris. I should have run right then. Things were about to take a turn south.

Lisa said I could sit on the table while she got one of the therapists from "over there" to come over. When she arrived, she came with the set up I was on when they took the measurements for radiation.

Part of this set up is an arm rest. That consists of two stirrup looking things that are supposed to cradle the upper and lower arm. There was no way that set up was going through that tube, and sure enough it wasn’t.

Then they began repositioning my body on the "bed." I am not a small woman. I could only be considered small if I were an Amazon. To get the apparatus for the breast radiation into the tube, my body was shoved to the edge of the bed. I was afraid I was going to fall off. My left arm was off.

When they tried a "trial fit," my left arm was hitting the other side of the tube and they had to remove the stirrup that held the lower right arm. It was determined that this would work because "this doesn’t take long" (quote from the radiation therapist).

I was freaking out this time because I was crammed into that blasted tube, touching the side and the top, and they left me in the middle for what seemed an eternity before the test.
Last time was not bad. I never freaked out. This time was different. I was about to scream. I asked how long it would take, and got no answer at first. Then Lisa finally told me it would be about 30 minutes.

As it turned out, there was only about a 10 minute period of time where I was mildly frantic. My left arm rested against the side of the tube the whole time, and at this point I can only hope and pray that they don’t call me to tell me that the results are unreadable and I have to come back.
I think my tiredness was due to my emotions. I probably shouldn’t have kept Lady Bug at all, but you know how mothers and grandmothers are. We always put ourselves on the back burner. I know K wouldn’t have wanted that, but at her stage of pregnancy I don’t want her stressing about not being able to get her work done - which she will be, and is, doing.

It’s almost time for Lady Bug to be here. It is supposed to be a short day with her dad picking her up when his appointment in Beaumont is done. Let’s hope he gets her on his WAY home and not after he has been home, etc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dashed hopes

Yesterday was a real experience. I had my usual check up with Dr Poison. It was at 10:30 instead of my usual 9 to 9:30 appointment. They all tried their best, but 10:30 was it.

G had decided he wanted to go with me to this appointment, but when the doctor was with us, I was wondering why since he asked no questions nor added anything with the exception of what the results of my tumor marker in the blood work was. Well, ok. He was there.

My hopes and dreams were smashed when we began planning the future of my treatment. I do have to have radiation. I have seven weeks of radiation. Monday through Friday radiation. No weekend trips radiation.

The oncology office was much more confused than usual. The doctor told us to wait. When the nurse came, she said we could leave, but we didn’t have the prescription nor the orders for the radiation.

We ended up waiting back in the waiting room, and finally got everything we needed in addition to an escort to the radiation lab. I wasn’t expecting to go over there then. I thought an appointment would be set up, and then I would go.

We sat in that waiting room for a while. A nurse came to get me, and we went to get checked in. That meant weight (ugh), temp, and blood pressure again within two hours. Oh well.

She left for a few minutes, then came back advising us to go to lunch because Dr Glowing was in a meeting. OK. We would do that.

We headed to the door, but G (with the micro bladder) had to stop at the restroom. While I was waiting, I was snagged by another clerk who wanted to "register" me. We weren’t free yet.
We called K because I was supposed to watch Lady Bug for a while. That wasn’t going to happen, but we met for lunch anyway. During lunch, I filled her in.

We went back to the radiation department to meet with Dr Glowing. That was another 45 minutes. He put his laptop on the exam table and turned to face us. The computer began to beep and gurgle. I could just imagine he was playing a video game!

After a few questions, he gave me a robe and said he would be back to examine me. When he came back, it was mostly the usual exam, but he played connect the dots on my chest. Then he announced the "girls" (I’ll bet if they knew that they would be pissed!) would take me for the measurements and schedule a PET scan for today.

I didn’t know what to expect. After several of what I think were x-rays, I got tattooed and was allowed to get dressed. Then they set the PET. Normally PETS are not done on Wednesday. Humm. That was my first clue.

I’ll continue with today’s fun tomorrow. Lady Bug is here and wants to play a game on this computer since the desk top, Della, is still a little off kilter.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


As usual, time has had a way of slipping by without giving me notice of its leaving. I have been a little busier than usual though. I have kept Lady Bug several days when her mom and dad couldn’t work out their schedules. She is a joy to have around!
I also have been sewing for this weekend’s confirmation reunion to celebrate the church’s 150 anniversary in San Antonio. My great grandfather was one of the first marriages in that church and the families were founding members, so this is an important thing for me!

Yesterday was the last of the scheduled chemo. I still believe that I am cured. You know "hope springs eternal in the human breast." I have had that feeling since the mastectomy and the beginning of the chemo, and I still do. There is that nagging feeling that I shouldn’t get too hopeful. I know things can still be lurking. So I have to be ready to face reality.

My close chemo center is still closed. Someone must have really dropped the ball. It must be some kind of insurance thing or some licensing thing. I asked the nurse who is over there yesterday when she was giving me my drugs if they would reopen next week, and she said she didn’t know. She is anxious for it to reopen because she lives, as I do, close. When she gets off in the evening it takes her an hour to get home from the main office - where we have to go - as opposed to 15 minutes from the close center.

I get to go back over the 20+ miles just to get the Neulasta today. It is so tempting to blow it off, but being around people this weekend would be taking a risk. I guess I need to stimulate those little disease fighting white cells! I just hope I don’t get to go back to the main office next week for another red cell shot since I haven’t really responded and am still anemic.

We are heading to the hill country this weekend. It is not that far from San Antonio, and we can leave Simone in the house for a few hours as opposed to sending her to Summer Camp for a few days at the vet’s office. She's so much happier just being alone for a bit!

Besides, we haven’t been up for five weeks. I need to make sure that my patch around the place where the satellite cable comes into the house worked and the mice are gone! Wonderful thing to find the last time. I am just praying they are gone, and I have an electric mouse trap now, but I don’t want them in AT ALL!! Wish me luck.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch up with you next week..

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What I have done this week

This week has passed very quickly. I can’t believe the time is gone.

It began with a bang - literally. About 7 pm there was a bang, and the lights went out. I could tell it wasn’t just a little outage. It was different. Our local looting and pillage group hasn’t been able to supply a constant stream of electrons into our house forever, but recently it has been worse. We would get little flashes, but then the lights would come back on.

So I called our provider to report the outage. I waited on the line to get an estimated power restore time. They said 11 pm. Being without electricity - hence air conditioning - here in swamp land is cruel and unusual punishment. I couldn’t believe it!

So I headed to the cabinet in the hall bath where all the lights for hurricanes are stored. I finally got them out and began to assemble them. I found them to be completely unsatisfactory. I will be replacing that stash soon. They will never work for several days.

As the time went on, I called back to check on the progress. Now our estimated time of return to civilization is 3 am. Oh we are in deep doo. G had his usual reaction to things of this nature. He had a temper tantrum. What a waste of energy, and all it did was to add more heat to the situation.

He went to bed - complaining all the way. About 1 am I called again. This time our estimate was 6:30 am. I didn’t like the progression of this situation.

About 2am, Simone barked. That in itself is weird. She never barks. But there were voices outside. When I looked at the wall in our pitch black den, there were strobe effects. I rushed to the front window to look out, and there was salvation. There were two trucks in front of our neighbor’s house. Civilization exists.

About 3:30am, the TV sprang to life. Lights blazed and fans ran. We had power. We were saved from certain steaming to death.

In more mundane news, I saw Dr Poison on Tuesday. He was noncommital about what happens after my last chemo. Last night I learned from a friend that was not unusual. When her son had cancer, they experienced the same thing. So the ride will continue for several more weeks before I know what my future holds.

I kept Lady Bug on Tuesday and Wednesday. She was a typical 6 year old, and we had a talk about that. She promised not to put Simone into her crate and close the door again.

I get to finish my treatments at the main poison center. The new office where I have been going is having some type of problem where they can’t get the drugs delivered there. That means a one way trip of 20+ miles rather than 7, but I have been lucky. I only have to make that trek a total of three times, and I got one out of the way yeserday when I got the red blood cell shot.

So what have you been doing?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's what day???

I don’t know where the time has gone. This week has just flown, and I can’t give evidence of anything that I have done that is worthwhile. The closest is that I finished the robe I was making - as far as I could without the interfacing I needed.

I had my next to last chemo yesterday. That is good, and I realize a little bad. My blood work showed anemia - as usual. But putting the chemo on top of that really has knocked my for a loop. I am tired to the bone and quite out of breath with any exertion. I got the red blood boosting shot yesterday, but it hasn’t had time to work yet.

Today I go for the Neulasta, and that means I have the rest of the day and tomorrow morning to get things done because I will have 5 days in bed/on the couch ahead of me. I’m sure it will cause the arthritis to go into hyper-mode.

I will pick up Lady Bug after the shot. I was supposed to take her with me, but I know they don’t want children in the cancer center. I really love having her around, but it brings back some hard feelings with Son-InLaw who easily abuses me keeping her. That is another post however.

There is nothing unusual happening around here. Next week will not be as clear as I would like because I have to go in on Wednesday for the red blood cell shot. That means lab work on Tuesday after Dr Poison’s visit. So it really is pretty much same, same!

Friday, June 01, 2007

What a busy day

Yesterday was a full day! I am certainly glad it is over too!

It was G's routine colonoscopy appointment. He gets to go every two years. I’m lucky In that my next one is 2011 which is rather funny in light of the good old breast cancer thingy. But that’s another story isn’t it?

I always over prepare for the waiting room. I had my book as well as my cross stitch projects. One isn’t enough, I had to have all three! After loading myself down like a pack mule, we set off for the hospital giving ourselves only thirty minutes to get there.

This is Swampland people. Our "freeways" look like a fire ant bed that has been stirred with a stick at 7:30 in the morning. G’s preferred way of getting to that hospital is to take the "freeway." I have to use that term in quotes because they more resemble parking lots. I just settled into my seat and quietly looked out the window. No sense giving my advice.

We got to the hospital parking lot at the appointed minute. It was 8 am on the dot. Of course we were not in the building. Details. I’m such a stickler for details.

The waiting room nearest the desk was completely full, so we went to the overflow area. Between the swish of the doors opening and the music at 400 decibels, we both were concerned we would never hear his name being called. But we did, and that worked out fine.

We were escorted upstairs to the Ambulatory Care Unit. We found his name was misspelled. Do you know what that means in these days of heath care? Everything had to be redone. Great!
All the paper work was redone, and the appointed hour was approaching. Our gastro guy is usually prompt. Not today. Of course not. I had something to do at 1 pm. I was going to meet K to see her 3D sonogram. Hmmm. It is after 10 when G is supposed to be in la la land, and he is still here, wide awake.

When I got up and turned on the news, all I got about the traffic was that there was some kind of problem up the freeway from where we got on. It caused the traffic from the Netherlands to be backed up taking about 3 times as long to get in. Guess who was in that traffic. Yes none other than Dr Gastro. His medication nurse was even further back in the mess. So the procedure got started LATE.

When G was taken back into the lab, I was shown to the waiting room. Those are interesting places. When I was first up, I thought I would just wait until I got him into surgery, then go have breakfast in the hospital. Well folks, we are getting too close to lunch, so I made the executive decision to dine a la machine.

After piling all my worldly goods into a chair in the corner, away from everyone else, I put my dollar into the drink machine only to realize that is was going to cost me another twenty five cents. Since the dollar wasn’t going to be spit out, I ponied up the quarter. I pushed the button, heard the bottle fall, but it wasn’t to be seen. A nice man even felt all around. No drink.. Nothing for $1.25, Highway robbery. After some thought, I decided to pony up another $1.25. Yes you are correct. Two bottles fell into the opening!

I took my two bottles and settled into one of the chairs, That was when my eyes fell on the woman at the opposite end of the waiting room. She is on her cell phone. When I shift my eyes to the left, there is a sign stating "no cell phone area, " and this woman is sitting there with her cell phone plugged into the wall, chatting away. She continues this behavior for at least 15 minutes straight. She is making business calls. One after another after another.

After a bit, she decides to move from under the tv into a bank of chairs that faces the tv. Without asking anyone, she takes it upon herself to change to channel. She is with the other people in the waiting room! That lasts a few moments until her still plugged in cell phone rings, and she returns to the first seat. When a nice young man asks if she is watching the tv, she responds in good old East Texas "I was fixin’ to!"

By this time, I am working on the new baby’s cross stitch wall hanging, and other people are beginning to filter into the waiting room. My people magnet has now switched on. Where do these people sit? Yep, right around me. Me who should avoid crowds.

After a few minutes, the volunteer calls me to go back to see Dr Gastro. G is fine. He will be sent back to the room, and I should go back there to wait. OK

On the way back to his room, I get to thinking about what he would ask for as far as a beverage. I was right. Coffee. It will take him 30 minutes to drink that coffee. We are getting close to noon. The sonogram is at 1 .

After several anxious moments, harsh words between K and me, driving like a race car driver, I do get G home, throw down lunch, drive like a mad woman again, I arrive at the place for the sonogram. I got a good look at my second granddaughter. She is beautiful. I can’t wait for her to get here, but first she needs to get that head down in position.