Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A post for Beth :)

Hi everyone. I thought I'd make a whole post about Beth's comment asking for other side effects still present after 7 months. So if this post sounds like whine and cheese - blame Beth!!!!! Haha - just kidding...

I can hear the complaint department door creaking slowly open...

Alright, let's start with my head. You all know about the hair. I have enough to go without a hat now although my head does get hot. I use baseball caps sometimes and my hair is unruly. Remember the hair coloring incidents (see earlier blogs) and learn from my mistakes. Chemo hair takes color differently than it did before.

Eyebrows are wispy - this bugs me although Mom gave me a good Maybelline brow pencil that works well.

Tamoxifen has its very own set of side effects. Thin eyelashes, facial fuzz and my undereyes are puffy like they've never been before. No, I haven't been crying.

Hot flashes are a regular occurrence between 8 and 9 every night. And cold flashes, if that makes sense. I shudder when I get cold now. Pretty bizarre.

Working out doesn't work as well as before. I exercise every day even if I don't have much energy. Even if I only ride a mile on my exercise bike, I do it. I guess the accumulated steroids and chemo makes the cells very different. These buggers are quite resistant to toning and cardio. It's like shoving a square peg through a round hole.

Bone pain isn't as constant now but it's still there. Hip pain is much better and only occurs once a day. The concentrated pain lies below my knees to my ankles and the tops of my feet. Maybe this is my version of neuropathy. Doc says exercise will help - so I do. This pain is excruciating at times, so much so that I can't walk well.

I get these flashback-types bouts of intense nausea. Like a reminder of chemo. It lasts for about 1/2 to 1 hour and I'm miserable. The stomach pain, back ache, full feeling - all the sickness of chemo. And then it goes away. It isn't in my head and there's no apparent time that it kicks in. Just random - once or twice a week. I think I'm one of the very very few people that didn't puke once while taking chemo. I have a cast iron stomach so these little recurrences really make me miserable.

Concentration is very hard for me. I'm reading more, since I believe this is a very good exercise for the mind. I can't multitask and I do hope this skill comes back. I test myself during the day with chores, doing multiple tasks at once to get the juices going.

I've also noticed my coordination is funky. I can actually write whole sentences with my fingers shifted on the keyboard and it comes out as gobbledly gook. So I need to look at the keyboard now when I type - which slows my writing down a little. Again, I do feel this is a coordination issue that will resolve as I distance myself from the drugs. I make some serious typos sometimes and it can be hilariously funny. Of course, it won't be funny if I send something bad to my editor :)

It's funny, I don't think about my missing boobs. Yes, I've had to adjust to wearing looser shirts but I'm not feeling rushed into getting the final reconstruction. I've decided to wait until November. I need a break from the poking and prodding. A long break.

Skin has changed - on my face and body. I get dehydrated very easily. It's like the chemo sucked the moisture out of my skin. I coat lotion on after my shower, right onto my wet skin. This is starting to make a difference but it's annoying. My lips get dry quickly too. I'm a chapstick queen here but I may have to switch to lipstick soon.

Fatigue is a given now. I get really tired and conk right out. It doesn't matter if I was meeting the Pope, I'd fall sleep if I was tired. This really worries me if I ever go back to work. I'm very afraid of getting run down again.

Radiation effects: I still feel tighter skin on my right breast, especially where the boost radiation treatment occurred. The skin is soft again but still tanned. All around, I'm pleased with how fast and well I healed. It just looks like crap but then, my whole chest does ;0)

Beth and everyone going through chemo - please, please beware in the first year after chemo that you are exceptionally susceptible to germs and viruses. I picked up a cold from Jackie and it's kicked my butt. Bill actually stayed home from work with me on Monday to take care of me. I've never had to have someone care for me during a cold. Plastic bubble - here I come!!!

Here's a little tidbit that I discovered today that I must share with all my sisters (and brothers - Armand!!) in cancer. I have found the miracle product that helps with eyelashes. Yes I have. I'm getting some Monday when Bill gets his paycheck. I had an at length talk with the cosmetologist at the drugstore and she's been using it. I can't remember the name but she says it works. And I saw her eyelashes to prove it!!

You cannot imagine how excited I am. I'll take eye pictures so you guys can follow my progress. I'm SO doing this next week. This one thing will go an extremely LONG WAY to making me happier. I can't remember the name of it now but I'll post it here as soon as I can.

I'm sure there are other "leftovers" that will occur to me as soon as I hit the publish button. I'll add them when I remember!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A sleepy blog

I can hear this thing snoring during the day, almost asking me for attention cause I've been a very neglectful blogger. Shame on me.

We've been so busy with Stef's swimming that I literally haven't had time to write anything other than paying articles. I crank out somewhere between 7 and 10 most days, if I'm lucky...and if I don't have "Mommy" 10 zillion times during the course of the day.

I think it's funny that I was happy summer was starting and I wouldn't have to go to school every day. Hah! Summer is far busier than school days but a mile!

Stef is swimming really well now and she actually swam butterfly in Divisionals tonight. This is the first time she's done fly in a meet and she actually won her heat. She's got a natural grace and speed in the water that makes watching her a joy. She's a very good swimmer and progressing nicely as time goes on.

Jackie is swimming too at her camp. She'll probably hit the swim team next year when she's 5 years old. She tried fly and backstroke last weekend. She needs to be able to swim for 25 meters unassisted to compete. God help me if she doesn't win (and the world - Mom are you reading this?!) Jackie isn't a happy camper when she loses.

My eyelashes still aren't back to where they were. I wonder if they every will be. How long does it take an eyelash to grow? That's something I'll google and report back at some point.

Hair still sucks. I hate short hair. With a vengeance. I've lost my 2 big toe nails and my 2 little ones. I jsut use flesh colored polish and screw anyone who doesn't like it. Luckily, some nail grew out under the broken nail so there's something there to paint.

7 months yesterday - I had my last chemo session and still the effects continue. It sucks. I'm here but I just want my hair, eyelashes and health back for good.

Going to bed. Sleep well everyone. Even if I haven't been responding, I have been reading everyone's blogs to keep up with how everyone is feeling. You're all in my thoughts and prayers every single night!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Conspicuously Absent

That is me.

Sorry, last week sent me into such a royal funk it took a few days to right the ship. You see, the 7th panned out to be a horror as I predicted. Not only the past baggage but new stuff as well. Jackie got hurt at school and I spent about half the day at the doctor's office with Steffie due to a hurt arm. A DJ's speaker fell on her arm during a July 4th party. No broken bones but tendon, ligament and muscle damage.

It was alot of drama on a day when I already had enough drama. And to top it all off, I watched Michael Jackson's funeral. Sad, all around just a sad day.

So I'm writing like a fiend trying to get some money pumping back into the house. It's hard to keep up the pace and it's especially difficult with the constant chatter of little monsters. I still can't shift gears quickly or split my attention very well. Multi-tasking is nearly impossible. Chemo brain is still in effect.

I have noticed that articles flow much better and that I can get those thoughts down quicker. There are times when my fingers are faster than my head, which is funny because the words end up being googledy gook. Good thing I work for myself. I've also noticed that I have a neat littel equilibrium problem at times. I tip over. Hip pain has definitely dropped off although the bone pain from my knees to my ankles hurts terribly at times. Thanks chemo - loving these continual side effects.

I like my nightly 8:30 - 9:00 hot flashes. Every night, without fail - I break out into a sweat. Predictable is good.

Cats, fish, birds, Bill, and kids are great. Learning to cope with what is left after the world gets torn apart by cancer.

Mom is doing well - she's starting a new chemo regimen of Avastin tomorrow morning. This will be much gentler than the Cysplatin with virtually no side effects. Infusion will be short - about a half hour if she does her blood work before going to the hospital. This first time will take a little longer to check for adverse reactions. Mo is also taking a new drug called Lirica for neuropathy. She could barely walk from the pain in her feet. It's been 5 days and we are seeing simply remarkable improvement in her pain. How's she supposed to be superman when her feet hurt?

Too many birds on the antenna here. I just find it incredible that I can't juggle so much anymore when that's always been my forte. I try not to let it bother me and do what I can without freaking out. It's just quite difficult to have everyone's program in my head at once now. Juggling stuff takes alot of mental effort.

Done for tonight. Ciao!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Coming up on 1 year to diagnosis

July 7 is the absolute most awful day ever created by mankind. So I'm skipping this day, if you don't mind. Sorry if it's your birthday - change it. It's cursed.

Today's the 5th and so I'm bracing myself to skip Tuesday because I'm really not kidding. I lost a baby on July 7, 2005 and was diagnosed July 7, 2008. This day just needs to disappear.

Have you ever wondered why things happen on specific dates? I think I lost my baby because the cancer was gearing up. Jackie had just been born in January of that year. Maybe it wasn't the right time for the blast of estrogen from Jackie. Maybe God decided I had my hands full with a sick baby (Jackie had a folded intestine called an intusseseption at 3 months). Whatever the reason, to this day I grieve my baby that made it only to 13 weeks.

This is the stuff that makes it so hard to be sitting in menopause limbo here. Bill and I weren't certain we were finished having children. He's the type of person who absolutely should have a little boy. And he doesn't.

Is this a regret? Can you call it that when every now and then you just get royally ticked off at the hand you were dealt? Is it worse to get angry because I'm lucky enough to have my kids when so many women are diagnosed and don't? I guess I don't really care. One thing cancer has taught me is to look out for me first. And I do.

I'll see everyone Wednesday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

HAPPY 4th of JULY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her
and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above;

From the mountains,
to the prairies,
To the oceans white wit
h foam,
God bless America,
My home, sweet home
God bless America,

My home, sweet home.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hair Drama Redux

I gave my hair a little month long break hair before I attempted putting anything other than shampoo on it. It's temperamental after chemo. My hair has always been temperamental when it comes to color. Natural red highlights tend to take over on a whim.

So yesterday I decided to use the "Opps" coloring removal kit to get my hair back to its original color. I want a lighter shade of brown or blonde. I'm so not used to NOT having foiled hair that one shade just bugs me. Don't get me wrong, any hair of ANY color works good for me, except that I'm not a fan of brown (case in point, I've colored my hair for the past 20 some years or so).

Open the box and mix it up - this is some of the stinkiest stuff every created. Follow the directions, put in on for 20 minutes and go back to writing. I checked the mirror after about 10 minutes and almost had heart palpitations. Not only was the brown gone but my stupid hair was now a light strawberry blonde - with emphasis on the berry.

Two choices - scream and cry or add more stripper to my hair. I did another round of hair color stripping with very little changes. So I'm appropriately horrifed but trying to remain calm. I've got one box of ash blonde hair color and another of a darker shade of brown. I figure between the two I can fix whatever wacky color appears on my head.

I rinse and rinse and wash the gunk out, rinse again and wash my hair again. It's now the texture of straw. I love how the kits say do a skin and strand test. Trust me, when your hair becomes light Bozo clown orange, you don't care about strand tests. On goes the ash blonde, cross my fingers and set the timer to 25.

So I'm writing, trying to keep my mind off this nightmare and the fact that I'm supposed to get Steffie from swim practice in about 30 to 40 minutes. 5 minutes in, I couldn't wait anymore. I ran into the bathroom to check the damage and lo and behold............

My hair was EXACTLY the same color as when I started 1 1/2 hours earlier.

No harm done, I guess :)