Thursday, October 30, 2008


I read a lot every day. Many, many blogs, many articles, many websites. Sometimes to get ideas, sometimes to see what's going on. I write, and I love to read. Good thing I don't need to borrow Bill's glasses but for a few days after chemo.

Mostly I visit my regular haunts everyday just for normal. Normal is important now. Normal is doing the dishes, feeding the cats, helping with homework, tubby time...normal. Normal is really good.

I've added a few new sites to my daily "normal." These sites are blogs of women who are in various stages of fighting breast cancer. Strong women who are facing this evil disease head on and with their eyes wide open.

A few weeks ago...just 3 weeks ago actually, I was angry and fearful. Fear was ruling my life. My Mom was diagnosed but we didn't have pathology back. Just indications of cancer in her body from marker tests. Since she's a breast cancer survivor, that fear was steeped in whether she had a recurrence. I was in the throes of my first chemo session, beyond miserable, and absolutely certain that I was blowing the last months of my life to feeling absolutely terrible. I was certain my fight was in vain.

What lifted me up? First, word that my mother's cancer was not a breast cancer recurrence. Second, I started reading about breast cancer success stories. Yes, success stories.

To say you are a survivor simply diminishes the true accomplishment of going through breast cancer treatment.

To actually get through treatment is a huge accomplishment. To wake up to a new life requires fortitude on levels that can't be measured. To understand that fear will be your constant companion for the rest of your life requires an inner strength that is unimaginable.

And 1 out of 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Fear shouldn't be the controlling factor in the lives of 1 out of 8 women. That's appalling. But it's a truth. It has become a way of life and literally, women are thriving in spite of it!!

So dear blogging friends, gather your inner strength. Corral that fear into positive thoughts. Pace your days and demand time for you and for just living. Enjoy the puddles, the flowers, the trees, your family, your cup of tea. Keep you strong, absolutely strong, inside your head and in your heart, and don't let fear guide your life. Don't give it that power. Anymore.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sleepy days and busy nights...

The kids keep me busy, even when I'm in chemo LaLa land. But you know what? I can feel it leaving me. I can feel my body re-energizing. Add 10 minutes to my ability to stand on my feet just about every day and I'm feeling like I can leap tall buildings in a single bound (not really!!)

I didn't do much today. Wait, I did. I sorted Jackie's summer and winter clothes and got her armoire organized with what fits her now. She's such a biggie! I do need a few things for her but for the time being, she has plenty of shirts and sweaters to wear to school. When she's here, she strips to her underpants and streaks around here like a hooligan.

Jackie is really becoming a big girl. I can actually reason with her! She had quite a day at school yesterday. Someone bumped into her on her walk and she trashed her pink sweatpants and then, she collided with someone while chasing bubbles. She now has a shiner! She'll be the first Scooby Doo who looks like he just got out of a boxing ring!

I got a royal hair up my fanny this evening over the dishwasher. Who would guess you need to clean the stinkin' things? But it needs to be done. So I scrubbed it really good, threw a cup of white vinegar in there and turned it on while it was empty. Then I tackled the fridge. Mommy out of comission for a week is way too long in this place!!

I've had radiation on my mind. My Doc wants me to schedule that appointment between my 3 and 4 chemo sessions. It's the margins again. He said if I need surgery, we need to know soon because I'll need to figure recovery time in. None of this makes sense to me except that I know I need to jump through every hoop to solve this nightmare.

I must confess that having another Doctor take a complete look at my surgical record, pathology, lab reports, Dr reports, etc., doesn't bother me one bit. All the more to make sure I'm here for my girls and Bill.

I am so praying for a clear head tomorrow. Jackie's Halloween parade is tomorrow and her party. I can't wait to see her! Joy is in everything. Really. Steffie is off school on friday so I'm just praying I'm well enough to watch my girls for a normal day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I think I know why it's raining...

...God must have decided to just cut me some slack with the leaves. If they are wet, then I can't clean them up. So He's decided to let it rain so I don't feel I have to get the leaves cleaned up.

Makes perfect sense to me.

So the leaves will just wait, like everything else...until I'm more awake and until I'm done being a princess for Chemo Round 2.

I went outside yesterday and just let it rain on my face and head. It felt so good. Back to the joy of being a kid. I don't have galoshes though so I wasn't stomping in any puddles.

I think I see His hand in everything more now than ever.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Complaint Department is Open...

Yes, it is. Except I don't have that much to complain about :)

Just so tired.

Head is just a low grade every-now-and-then ache.

Tummy is upset but that's from side effects from the anti-nausea pills.

And will wonders never cease, I haven't needed an oxycodone yet. Shock of my life!!

I guess I'll have to tell you about the concept of the "complaint department" and how it came about. I was reading a book by Linda Greenlaw about growing up on an island off the coast of Maine. Her family fished and caught lobster for a living. Anyway, her mom was a very pragmatic soul and had a daily "complaint dept" set up for an hour every day or so. She'd listen, fix boo boos and generally shower the kids with attention for an allotted amount of time. I jumped on this idea.

So my Steffie (and now Jackie) lead the world in the drama queen department. Every day, I get (or used to get) Stef from school at 3 p.m. and we'd open the complaint department until 4 p.m. One hour a day and that was it. If you were gushing blood, cut your arm off, or if something caught on fire, the complaint department would open outside of this time frame. However, it wouldn't open for mundane bickering and whining.

So this really worked for us. It was set time to hear about her day, what was bugging her, just simply getting in close touch with her every day. Now the funny part is that Bill picks Stef up from school quite a bit now and he seems to feel the complaint department needs to open up when Steffie arrives on the doorstep, not simply the car.


I guess he's telling me he doesn't want to assume responsibility for the complaint department, huh?


Friday, October 24, 2008

Good things

The day after chemo 2 is decidedly better than the day after chemo 1.

Good things:
1. Mom is doing great! Her chemo was Weds and she's rocking and rolling like Wonder Woman. I need to find her WW lapel pin.

2. Got one of 2 rescued kitties neutered yesterday. My Pop captured a pregnant feral after she stashed her kittens in the storm sewer in August. Fireman got one kitty out (Buzz - who we know is a boy now). I went into the drain the same day I had my MRI (how's that for brave??) and got Laila (all black and gorgeous). My cousin is catching her for shots and fixing today.

3. Jackie gets an extra day at school this week because I'm under the weather here. She loves school!!

4. Steffie is just Steffie - the most beautiful thing I've ever seen...inside and out.

5. Katie is coming home from UMD this weekend for dinner on Sunday. First time. I'm sure TP and pillow fights will abound.

6. No headache. Quirky tummy but I took my meds. Water is my friend :)

7. My parakeets have been very noisy today. Must know that I need a pick me up or else I forgot to do something for them (possibly turning on their oldies station?)

8. BILL IS HOME WITH ME TODAY!!! The best thing - my guy is the best.

9. I'm flushed but not hot magenta (a very cool color description for 3 year olds) this time. Just a pleasant peachy color - rosy like, if you can imagine.

10. Got a funny letter from my niece who's 5. Halloween stickers and everyone's names written in just beautiful handwriting. I'm so impressed.

11. Jackie's flowers are still blooming. Her zinnias are just incredible this year. I had Stef take a vase to a neighbor yesterday. Jo helped us when we got Mom's diagnosis by whipping up a batch of lasagna that was so good and just such a help to all of us when we were reeling from Mom's issues.

12. It's a new day.

13. Got a prospective writing job lined up and an interview today. Got my list of questions and resume ready to roll. Looks promising.

14. Dr's appointment for a neulasta shot today and I'm gonna try to talk them into giving me something else to prevent the back pain.

15. Halloween is a week away! Jackie will be Scooby, Steffie is still deciding (after 2 hours in 2 different costume stores, her demands are "something cute, and something that I haven't been before.") Yea, well that is a tall order! I'm gonna slap a paper bag over her head :)

16. Eagerly waiting to hear if I've had any of my 5 fitness articles chosen for purchase. Sold 2 earlier this week. Fingers crossed. These are huge pick me ups when they happen.

17. Did I mention Bill is home today? Can you tell I'm so happy about this?

18. The deer ate my harvest mums that Bill bought me Sunday. But I had an epiphany about the mums. Next year, I'm sticking the scarecrow decoration in my mum garden to scare them away. Brilliant, right?

19. Our dear cleaning ladies came yesterday and tore through my home. This is literally the best day of every two weeks. Blanca and Danni even did my dishes and folded my white clothes in the driver - the socks and underwear stuff. I hate white clothes!! I love these girls.

20. Cats are playing, happy and healthy, and my dear old kitty Maui is still sassy as can be. Almost lost her in August when I was in the hospital for 4 days. But she's bounced back with a vengeance.

Reached 20 good things so I'm done for now. The funny part about chemo brain is that I'm sure more will occur to me immediately upon clicking the "publish post" button :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2/6 and moving down the chemo road

Today is session #2. I was so worried this week about having side effects on top of my side effects that I've barely been able to eat all week. I've crammed as much as a person can in the days that I've felt well during this 21-day session. I'm pretty proud of myself.

I know I won't have this much energy all the time.

Something funny, Bill and I were talking last night about how I've been cranking out articles. I wrote a pretty creepy Halloween story yesterday that I'm pretty happy with. Bill mentioned at dinner was that it seems as though the chemo is cranking up the creativity cells in my brain. (What he didn't say is that the logic cells are getting more clueless by the minute - :) HeHE!)

Went to Novena with Steffie last night. For those that don't know, Novena is the 9 days of prayer to celebrate the feast of St. Jude. This was especially good because St. Jude is Saint we petition in times of trouble for assistance. Novena is a penitent time and both Stef and I went to confession. Despite being at her school, our own Parish priest came down to do confessions. Both Steffie and I talked to him.

Father told me something that is so very important for a cancer patient or anyone that is sick. He said we learn to put our complete faith in God by every day handing him our fears and moving away from fear. It's a daily goal, a daily job for us. And gradually we'll feel our fear leave us.

I'm very afraid, and while that's wholly natural as Father said, it doesn't mean I have no faith or that I ever lost it. Father said when we are faced with tragedy, it's an even higher test of our fortitude and a great lesson in prayer.

I feel better and bless him, he told me I was being to hard on myself about feeling sad and afraid. He also said my one Hail Mary covered not being able to go to church. I am not having my chemo schedule messed up from being out in public too much. I have snotty nosed kids running around.

Steffie had a good talk with Father and he told me he thinks she's a great kid. We both talked about how this thing is the very first heavy duty test of her faith. It's a very hard thing for an 11-year old to handle. But she's doing so well.

Mom had her first chemo session yesterday at the fusion ward. We've decided it's the best day spa to go to when you're having something crappy done to you body. They danced attention on her and made her feel pretty good. She sounded happy that Daddy was making her an omelet last night.

To all my blogging friends who are troubled, I'm praying for all of you. We face these trials holding hands with friends and loved ones and take one step and one day at a time.

Have a good day. Renee - I'll be thinking of you when I'm getting my juice today :) Kathy, I hope your spirits improve, take it 24 hours at a time. Many prayers to heal you headed your way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grand aspirations

Yesterday was a doozie of a day. I managed to watch Jackie and complete 8 articles. My goal of 20 before I do chemo this week might be a tall order but I think I can do it. I sold two of my original 5 fitness articles. That always makes me happy. There's always a chance of picking up a contract if someone likes your work.

I'm really focused right now and lo and behold, I can see the computer screen!! I even picked Steffie up from school yesterday (Yay me!!) I need to locate a few new books to keep me occupied in small increments when I have chemo. Add that to my list of stuff to do!

I am having grand aspirations here. I know I'm going to be under the weather for a week so I want my household ducks in a row. Laundry, spot cleaning the carpets, some cobwebs and dusting the baseboards and woodwork. I'm not letting things fall to the wayside but rather doing them as busy work when I can. I like a shipshape house despite my kids and husband :) and cats thwarting me at every turn.

Washed all the winter jackets this weekend, tackled the throw pillows too and I didn't ruin them! What a shock that was. I have just regular laundry to do now and frankly, I hate laundry. A while ago, I even wrote an article bashing laundry to shreds. It was fun.

I'm scared to death of chemo this week. I'm so worried about the headache. I can't even eat that much right now I'm so nervous. My nurse told me again today that she thinks it was the anti-nausea drugs adding to the mix. I'm praying for this to cut me some slack this time.

Ok, enough blogging. I have paying jobs to write.

Fingers crossed for more sales, yes???

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Writing for a living

My fondest wish my entire life has been to make my living being a writer. I've realized that dream just this year. So in many ways, 2008 has been the best and the worst of the years of my life.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer stumped my creativity initially. Throw in soreness from surgery, generally feeling poorly, and then chemo/drug side effects and you've got a rather scatter-brained writer. However, I will say I've been feeling so much better in this chemo down-time that I'm writing again with a vengeance.

I'm up to 9 fitness articles just this week alone. And another Halloween article. I've got 20 more planned before my Thursday chemo session. How's that for having a delusions of grandeur?

And one more thing. I started my book just tonight. Yes, it's about breast cancer and it's about dealing with it. I hope to fill a niche, to address the cliches, to strike someone...somewhere...with my own particular brand of wit and humor. If I can make just one person's burden a little easier, I will consider the book a success.

I want to title it "This is taking togetherness a little too far" and address what my family is going through. Me with breast cancer, Mom with lung cancer - all at the same time. Cancer has hit 2 back to back generations 3 times in less than 5 years. There's gotta be something unique topic wise in that. But right now, I'm immersed in being angry and in reliving the time up to now. I imagine the "lightbulb" will click on at some point on how to incorporate the whole story.

Why am I writing? Because it's what I do. It's therapeutic. This blog is wonderful. It allows me to vent, to throw out a little coping tidbit to hopefully help some other Mom who's mired in this nightmare. I can scream virtually at the injustice of it all. It's better than oxycodone. I'm hoping my book will be just the same.

So I write. For money sometimes. For sanity at other times.

I'm just so very thankful that I can.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chemo might be getting a bad rap...

I'm about 5 days away from my second round of chemo and I'm feeling pretty good here. I'm tired but that could very well be caused by the soreness from my surgery in August. It takes a body quite awhile to heal from a double mastectomy.

I promised a parade of side effects and here it is. Each one needs some abuse. It's only right, in my opinion. What better way to deal with angst than to verbally flog each and every side effect that made me miserable for over a week?

I must confess I'm surely not looking forward to next week, despite the fact that it takes me one step closer to cured. Session #2 of 6. Yay me! (I think.)

I'm afraid of these infernal drugs the Docs give me. I hate the steroids. I just think they are evil. The things caused me to have such blurry vision. I asked the Doc about this and he told me certain steroids can cause crystallization of sugars on the eye lenses. I guess I crystallized a few weeks ago. I'm not looking forward to that, that's for sure. If I'm lolly-gagging about the house, how am I supposed to do it with any attitude if I can't read a good book?

Who's the princess here??

The other thing...the drugs just keep me from concentrating. Focusing on anything requires great effort. Helping with homework just makes me nuts. The normal bickering makes me want to slam my head against the wall. I do remember that the girls made me cry with their simple, regular nit-picking. I don't like them seeing me unable to cope with simple things. Maybe it won't happen this time??

I gotta confess too that I am heartily praying for some relief from the headache. I have a great fear of that. There's something about your head hurting SO bad that makes you think there might be something really really wrong. Yea, I know. It's the steroids again.

You know what? 100 oxycodones ought to get me through this. My bottle runneth over...

And the anti nausea drugs. I've got a new batch of them. Totally different kind this time. I take them once a day, in addition to my Emend - a high powered anti-nausea drug. I'm not interested in having the intestinal troubles that I did last time. All night bathroom breaks aren't my idea of a good time.

My nurse told me she really thinks my headaches and stomach troubles were aggravated from the side effects of the anti-nausea pills. See what I mean? Chemo is getting a bad rap. It made me sleepy but it sure didn't make me have the headache, tummy troubles, or fake menopause symptoms. Wait a minute, I retract that menopause statement!

Ah, menopause. I think I had some but it didn't stop things from going on as planned for the month. I'm like clockwork. Except this time the cramps felt like labor pains they were so intense. For 3 freaking days! Sorry for the graphic descriptions but you know, there it is. Cold hard truth. Ain't perdy, is it?

My Docs tell me that many women lose their periods with chemo. The question is will it come back. I really need to remember to ask my Doc next week if it's better if it stays away after all this or if it comes back. For anti-cancer drug purposes...

Big question.

Anyway, menopause sucks. I would shower and dry off. And be sweaty at the nape of the neck within mere minutes. I'd sweat and freeze in alternating 15-minute increments all night long. Most annoying. You'd think the medical world would expend a little effort on fixing some of these simple but aggravating things. But no, they don't.

So this chemo-induced menopause also wreacked havoc on my skin. I broke out like I haven't since high school. Even ProActive didn't help. In fact, it could've been just a little too much cleaning action for my poor face. I finally tried some of Steffie's Neutrogena face wash. And lo and behold!!! My face cleared up. It's now dry, go figure. But I'm loving my Olay lotion. Reminds me of my Grandpa who used it every day!

I think I'd kill to take an Advil. Just to have that relief that Advil gives the muscles would be wonderful. I keep shoving my right arm (minus my lymph nodes and plus my stupid temporary implant) up above my head at night. It's brutal pain. Maybe I should strap my arm to my side??? Or duct tape my hand in my night clothes pocket?? Ha!

I get a Neulasta shot this friday, one day after chemo. Neulasta boosts white blood cell production. The problem last time was that I got the shot 5 days after chemo. So just when I was starting to perk up from the first round, I got whacked again. With the shot comes...drum roll...more side effects. In the form of bone pain on the upper back. With a headache too, of course. I'm hoping a little overlap between the drug side effects and the Neulasta shot will get it all over with in under 7 days.

Hence, my abundace of oxycodone. And my undying sadness at not being able to take an Advil. I just know it would kick Neulasta's bone pain in the patootie!!

Chemo could be a roundabout sorta way...because I wouldn't have to take all these drugs if I wasn't having chemo. But still, the drugs are worse. I hate taking pills. I hate having a calendar to remind me what to do even though there's absolutely no way to keep track of everything unless I have the calendar.

Bill bought me a weekly pill thingy that I've yet to use. But I'll be breaking it out this week. Won't that be fun?

No I'm not a junkie. I'm just not allowed to take any medication that could possibly mask a fever. My Doc feels I need so few oxycodone that it's safe for me to take them for pain just at night. He also wants me to take them if ("if" - God, please!!) I get the headache from the steroids and drugs again. He wants me to sleep. I need to rest and I really am not a good sleeper now with so much discomfort.

I really did have a tremendous amount of work done on my chest. And I must remember that I'm not even halfway through reconstruction. My plastic surgeon is the sweetest man and he reminded me that my pain will be around for awhile and to take my pills if I need them. Heating pads and ice packs too. I love shoving a heating pad under my armpit and planting my butt in a chair all day. It's a real hoot!!

Let's talk metallic taste in the mouth. A minor but hugely annoying side effect. My decaf coffee tastes awful, even now. I gave that up in favor of decaf tea and hot chocolate. You know, I'm stopping with the coffee-loss complaint right now. This topic deserves it's very own post!!!

So combating this awful taste is fun. Butterscotch candies help. As do Jolly Ranchers. And Lemon drops. Good thing I got that crown replaced this summer. There's something about taking your frustration out by crunching on hard candy that is very satisfying. I need to be careful though...

So I'm done complaining for the time being. Maybe.

Unless there's another round of crappy side effects. Or unless I suddenly remember some totally awful thing I forgot to include in this post.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Jack Jack and Mommy

The hardest part of this whole thing has been my inability to watch my little one without some help. It's just simply not safe to take painkillers and be responsible for the well being of a 3 year old all day.

But this week has been a joy. Jackie (aka Jack Jack - remember the kid from The Incredibles?) has been home for 2 days with me and ME ONLY! I'm loving it and so is she. She's had a lot of time with just Mommy and I'm sure she misses it as much as I do.

I had grand plans with her beginning preschool this year. I thought her twice weekly schedule would leave me plenty of time for writing and chores without helpful little hands. Little did I know that breast cancer would trash my best laid plans.

Peace comes from doing normal things and taking care of Jackie is so "normal." I love it! We're watching her shows, she's playing on on her Dad's laptop, and we're occasionally dancing to the Cupid Shuffle.

It's a good day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The leaves have started to fall...

...and we got the pool cover on in time. With everything that is going on, I was worried about this. Leaf duty is my job, as Bill is so terribly allergic to leaves. I wonder how cool I'll look with my new hats and sporting a leaf blower?

I thought today as I sat outside that the leaves are falling off the trees, just like my hair is falling out of my head. A bizarre analogy, but a truthful one.

My hair has started falling out in earnest. It really came out on Monday when I had my hair rolled into a bun at the nape of my neck. I guess during the day when I was working outside that so many hairs broke that the entire back of my head became a mass of tangled hair. Steffie patiently worked the brush through my hair and we literally filled up the sink with it! We got the knots out. I was pretty much frantic over it because there was no way to even cut it out without completely butchering my hair.

Seems silly but there it is. I don't like not being "neat" if that makes sense.

So I had Bill cut another 5-6 inches off my hair to right above the knotting level. He's never cut anyone's hair before so I admit to being a tad nervous :)

My hair has not been at shoulder length since I was 16 years old.

I imagine I've lost close to half my hair now. It just kinda floats away from my head, just like the leaves and wafts down to the floor. If I run my hands through my hair, it comes out in handfuls of strands.

I'm not ready to shave my head yet but I imagine I will be soon. At least the awful burning feeling in my scalp has lessened.

I told my husband the other day that there isn't much that this breast cancer doesn't do to absolutely wreck a woman's femininity. Nothing is sacred, nothing is left untouched in this endless nightmare.

Steffie is calling these clumps of hair my "hairballs" and frankly, we have quite a giggle over it. I'm shedding more than our long-haired Ragdoll cat. It's totally acceptable though, because I'm the one running the vacuum.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

If there were 34 side effects, I had 33...


What advice could I give a woman and mother in preparing herself for chemo?

I would say that you definitely need to have a caregiver for yourself and for your children for a week after chemo. A week, you say? Most folks say they feel fine after 3-4 days.

I'll blame that error on chemo brain.

All along here, I've been going on the advice of others about pain expectations, time of procedures, chemo, etc. Guess what? Not anymore.

Every single, stinking time, they've been wrong.

Expect the worst and plan accordingly. It's my new motto.

Or Murphy's law - If it can go wrong, it will.

I am officially not going into anything without expecting the worst. Why? Because I literally have had and continue to have every side effect except for maybe two from my chemo and the assorted drugs given to combat the side effects.

There it is.

A bloody nightmare.

So what side effects might they be? Let's begin with the steroids given one day prior to chemo. These things are great in theory. They boost immunity before it gets beat down by the chemo. Little did I know that my eyesight would become quite blurry, enough to cause me to need my husband's glasses to read. This was way BEFORE I got a dose of chemo.

Way to think I'm aging here at an incredible rate!!

I got an IV round of hydration before my fusion. Thought this was great until I realized when I was walking out the door that I had a headache to beat every single headache ever experienced in the world. I'm told my headache was caused by superhydration from the IV and steroids combination.

This headache was of the hammer variety, beating on the entire line of my scalp for 4 days.

Oxycodone, my friend.

Did you know chemo patient's cannot take any Tylenol or Advil or any over the counter painkillers? Well, now you do.

There's this really cool(not really, it's heat actually) flushing, as in bright red sunburn-type flushing, that starts at the crown on the head and travels to the chest. It's so red, it's not becoming at all. My husband said I looked like I had a healthy glow.

He's so funny!

All of these side effects were caused, supposedly, by the steroid. Lucky me.

The chemo itself made me so very tired. Tired everywhere. I'm having a three-drug treatment called TAC (Taxotere, Adriomycin, Cytoxin).

My wonderful oncologist has attributed most of these side effects to my meds and not the chemo.

Makes me think chemo's been given a bad name. (Not really, but this seems appropriate to put right here in this post).

I won't go into the internal issues from chemo and the drugs. Suffice it to say, patients must strike a very fine balance between anti-nausea drugs and functioning intestines. It would've been really nice if I had been told this before I pounded home 20 anti-nausea pills over 5 days.

Expect the worst and plan accordingly.

There's a hundred other little annoying side effects (most aren't really little) but they fall into another category entirely and thus, deserve their very own blog post. If I'm gonna wallow in my misery here, I'm marching every single one out to abuse it individually.

With sarcasm, of course.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Catching up on mediports...

These mediports are a piece of work. I found that out over a week ago when I needed to get mine installed. You see, this little valve gets installed into your body near the collarbone and is used to dispense chemo and draw blood. Great for someone like me whose left arm is staging a complete revolt with IVs and blood draws. Right arm blood draws aren't an option anymore because of lymph node removal.

So what do these things look like? There's a pic on the left side of the page.

These mediports are dialed into a vein and provide a stable and reliable way to give treatment. There's a plastic outline ring and in the center, a spongy-like rubber barrier that a needle is poked through. Great in concept. It really is. However, I thought my routine installation would go like a charm. It didn't. And much to the frustration of my doctor, who likened my mediport installation to requiring the use of 3rd string receivers in football, my mediport didn't want to install where he wanted it to. So it was a battle for over 2 hours to get the thing in. The doctor finally chose a neck vein for installation, thus resulting in this lovely whiplash feeling that I had for a week. Which resulted in my hair being so bloodied during surgery that they had to wash my hair.

Lucky me!

A week later, I could still feel the pain but it's lessened now. And the reason I'm adding this to the blog is simply to remind breast cancer patients that even the little "easy" procedures can sometimes get complicated. I wasn't prepared for this at all.

This difficult mediport installation delayed my chemo for a week because of pain and nausea. Given the great PET scan results, my oncologist wasn't too worried. However, fasting 2 times in one week (one for PET and one for mediport surgery) and the subsequent pain from the mediport procedure really screwed me up. Without a doubt, you need to be aware of your entire game plan for your own comfort. I wasn't.

I need to remind myself that I'm an individual and that I need to take advice that I receive with a grain of salt. Prepare for the worst type thing. So far, the advice I've received on drain removal, packing tape removal, mediport, chest pain, etc., has been entirely inaccurate. So I ain't asking anymore!!!!!

Bottom line: know what can go wrong. Because then you have something to cheer mightily about when it doesn't go wrong. See?