Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Round 3 - over the hump

In spite of my rapidly dropping CA 125 results, I have been disappointed with the way I am feeling during the first week of this round of chemo (3rd). I was expecting to begin to recover by day 6, but still, on day 7, I was very weak and generally feeling bad. I spent the morning on the internet (usually not a very smart thing to do) to find out how to interpret results from my blood work, and concluded that my red and white levels are all down (which would explain rather nicely why I am not bouncing back as quickly this time). By evening my body was feeling more normal, but I went to bed with a belly ache - can I be eating too much? When I feel sick, I find it difficult to know if my stomach is already too full, or if I need a meal - sometimes I just eat because something needs to change.

Today is day 8 - Like magic, I woke up feeling good, and I am forcing myself to stay rather inactive today, in spite of wanting to be outside working in the garden. Eric drove me to PMH to pick up instructions and a mix that I must drink before the CT scan on Friday. These next few days are my most susceptible, and I must be careful not to catch an infection. Friends are visiting, the sun is shining and life is good - the outdoors calls me, but it is deceptively cold.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chemo 3 - and CA 125

Wednesday I went in for my third chemo session - the wait was long because of a staff meeting that stopped the intake for about an hour - annoying for people like me who were in for the whole day. I was lucky to be given a private room with my own bathroom when we were finally admitted - just the luck of the draw. I continued taking my sleeping pills during this whole past couple of weeks, and I think that coming in well-rested made a lot of difference to the way I reacted this time to the steroids. I slept well Wed. night (a full 8 hours), but only 5-6 last night. Could have been because we had to get up early this morning for a family counselling meeting at the hospital - good for talking about ourselves to a sympathetic ear, and speaking to each other through a third party.

I had been particularly anxious about my CA 125 results from Monday's blood test, which had not been available on chemo day. We tracked down Dr. M at the hospital this morning, and got some very encouraging results - down to 486 since the beginning of chemo 2 (1,237)!! Talk about walking on air - the relief was such a rush.

Eric has had a sore throat for the past couple of days and has been so good about wearing a face mask and washing his hands - but it is frustrating not to be able to get a good hug from him. I find it a nice change to be worrying about someone else's health for a change.

I can feel the bad weekend on its way - battle is beginning in my insides and I have started the pain killers. Good to know that I will begin feeling better again by Monday, but as long as the CA 125 continues to drop, I am a happy camper!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

True Blood

Yesterday was blood day at Princess Margaret Hospital. I had a later than usual appointment, and the waiting room was overflowing with people. The lady who finally drew my blood was talented, finding a vein at first try, but she said that I would have a large bruise. Waiting to see my oncologist afterwards, we saw that there was a large backlog there too, and it was an hour or so before we were called in. Dr M was not available, so we saw Dr D instead, who gave me a thumbs-up for chemo 3 on Wednesday.

I found out about CA 125, a marker in the blood for some ovarian or peritoneal cancers. Mine has come down from a serious 1,989 on March 2, before I began chemo, to a still serious 1,237 after that chemo on March 29. The results from chemo 2 were not ready yet, but I have to stay positive that it is still coming down - normal is anything below 35! Before leaving the hospital, we went up to Chemo Daycare to visit with the mother of Eric's friend who has the same symptoms and diagnosis as I, but who is one chemo behind me in treatment. It is good to speak with someone who is going through the same wringer as I. She still has her hair, and she is amazingly still working!

Today is another gorgeous day. My sore throat is gone, so on today's list is walk to Queen Street for coffee with some old friends, paint some more garage, give myself a pedicure, mess around in the garden, and a shopping run to Costco.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

You give me fever

I was disappointed this morning to wake up with sore throat still there, and with lower energy than yesterday. My planned walk to the beach didn't happen, and I spent most of the day obsessing about my throat between visits from friends expecting to find me more active. I called the hospital to find out what medications I could take (why do these things always happen after Friday, 5:00 pm?), and the on-duty doctor told me that even vitamin C or zinc is off limits during chemo!! She also told me to go for blood work on Monday, no matter how I feel. I hope that I don't have to postpone either chemo on Wednesday or the CT scan at the end of the month.

This afternoon I tried to force a fake fever by soaking in a very hot bath - got my temp up to 38.5 for about half an hour and hope that I killed off some germs in the process. Tonight, I am running a slight fever - 37.1 (my normal is 36.1) and am drinking a garlic, ginger, lemon and honey concoction that Eric has made me - the throat feels better, but I could drop a fly at ten paces with my garlic breath.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What a difference a (sunny) day makes

This has been an excellent week! Day 12 - 16 have been fantastic in terms of energy level and focus, and days 17 - 21 are bound to be wonderful too. I seem to have bounced back from chemo at the same rate as before, but I feel capable of sustained exercise, though I do poop out a bit in the evenings. I have been painting the garage for the past 4 days - up and down a low ladder for up to four hours at a time. The weather has been warm and sunny, and that must work to my advantage, and I am getting long nights of sleep (thanks to the pills...).

Life is taking on a more normal pace. I have been seeing more people, shopping more, cooking more. and sleeping more. I finally bought glasses with my contact lens strength (contacts are off limits because of the risk of infection), so that I am seeing clearly when I walk around now - this makes a huge difference in my ability to function and focus on tasks. I have also noticed that my craving for meat and proteins has subsided a bit, and I now need more salad and vegetables in my diet. I hope that this is a good sign - I'm still not back to being a part-time vegetarian, but am sure that this is a healthier diet for me.

Last night I developed a sore throat halfway through watching a good movie (An Education). The throat is a little better this morning (good sign that my white cells are working), and there has been no fever so far. I am gargling with salt water every so often, and hope that this will take care of the problem.

There is rain in the forecast for this weekend, so I may have to put the painting on hold, but I hope to get some flower seeds in the ground this afternoon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring is in the air

The sunshine returned today, but it is still brisk outside. We drove Miriam and Viva to Scarborough to catch their bus back to Montreal this morning, and then walked around the neighborhood in the afternoon, visiting an open house, and were amazed at how expensive houses are right now - we are sitting on a fortune, it seems. Our fortune needs a new paint job, and I am agonizing over paint chips. We tried out some sample paint that we bought a few days ago, and it seems to be completely different from what we were expecting. I need some more input from family and friends before I'll be ready to take the plunge and invest in gallons of the stuff.

Gave myself a manicure yesterday - professional ones are out during chemo because of the danger of infection. I wouldn't pay for a manicure, but I do like going out for a pedicure during sandal weather. I have had a low-grade shooting pain near my right ear for a few days - think that it is coming from my gum, but there is no swelling - just tenderness. I'll be on the lookout for fever over the next few days, which would indicate infection. Hopefully this will just go away by itself.

Day 11 feels very good, and I have been busy and active all day long and still not feeling tired. Perhaps my five nights of good sleep have something to do with this. Yesterday I saw a psychiatrist at PMH because Dr M is concerned with my taking the sleeping pills and thought that I needed some alternative coping strategies. I left the appointment with a new prescription for pills and confirmation that my insomnia is drug induced and that these pills are not particularly dangerous. Vindication feels sweet, but I don't like thinking that my doctor is the enemy! And I am looking forward to another week of deep sleep zzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Buff and muffins

Day 8 and I am definitely feeling better. I've now had two solid nights of sleep (helped along with pills...), and am more alert and active. JP and I shopped a bit yesterday for paint samples to try out colors for the outside of the house - in desperate need of a lift. Also looking for a special Canadian mustard, we discovered the Distillery District, a new shopping space created out of the old brewing warehouses east of downtown near the waterfront. We'd heard lots about it, but never been there - it's a bit off the beaten path. We'll be back to investigate more when the weather is better and I am in week three and feeling great.

I am getting Flat Anne's photos together and will try to get her into the post, back to Minneapolis, tomorrow. It has been fun showing her around Toronto, but she is missing her second grade class, and is anxious to get back to work with regular Anne.

My buff arrived in the post yesterday (thanks for the tip Mirta), and now I have a really comfortable head covering that is easy to throw on, and even pop a hat over for going out. Miriam cut what is left of my hair to a very short buzz, and I don't leave so much fallout in the shower now.

The kitchen is warm and full of wonderful smells - JP and Viva are cooking tonight. I made a big recipe of muffin mix, and we just fire up the oven when we feel like having some fresh baked goods.

With the weather wet and rainy, we have all stayed inside, and I took the day to catch up on some work for Nordic College. I have to be careful not to overdo when I feel good in the morning, because I pay for it in the evening. This will be another early night for me, and hopefully another good night's sleep.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink

Everything feels worse when one is sleep deprived, and this is where I am right now. Day 5 of chemo was the low point for me in this cycle, but day 6 is not feeling much better. My insides are making battle with themselves - don't know who is winning, but there is a lot of action going on. I just cannot find any refreshing sleep - even the sleeping pills don't seem to be able to knock me out, so I have stopped taking them and am hoping that fatigue will kick start a more regular sleep pattern. Right now I seem to be sliding into an hour or so of very light sleep at intervals during the night, and that is just not good enough. Not sleeping also means that my metabolism doesn't slow down, so I am ravenous overnight, and that works to keep me awake.

The sun is shining, and it may be our last beautiful day for this week - thunderstorms and cooling trends are on the way, so I will try to get out for a short walk at some point today. I am looking forward to week 2!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chemo 2 and primate look alike

Yes, I do actually look forward to my chemos! I know that this will be the day when I am feeling the strongest, the most energetic, and safe because my cancer is getting another blast. Wednesday was no exception - Eric, my brother Rick and JP took turns playing Quiddler with me, chatting, watching me sleep through the Benadryl drip, and helping me multiple times get to the washroom with my drip station in tow. We went out for a snack afterwards, and then spent 2 hours showing Rick around the beautiful AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).

Miriam and Viva met us at PMH on Thursday for the "Look Good, Feel Better" clinic, Mim going with me, and the others sightseeing in Kensington Market. I got a huge box of makeup donated by big companies, many goodies that I will probably not be using (lucky Miriam), and thoroughly enjoyed the pampering session - I highly recommend that any woman going through chemo sign up for a similar session.

Back home again, and Miriam gave me a very short scissor cut because my hair was seriously coming out, and each hair felt like a splinter in my scalp. She left some longish hair in front to peek out of my head coverings, but when I took a shower, the amount of hair that came out was truly frightening - a veritable rug of hair collected over the drain. My family has been very supportive, telling me that I look cute, and making comparisons to the Jean Seberg look in "A Bout de Souffle" (but she had thick hair, about twice as long as mine, and was blond) - I know that they are being nice, and probably truly believe that I am cute, but personally I think that I look more like a baby orangutan. I will save you all from that photo!

So now to the down side of chemo - the wonderful steroids that make me feel energetic and comfortable also don't let me sleep. Two hours only last night from 6 - 8 am. Tonight, after my last steroid, I will take the dreaded sleeping pill and try to catch up. Then it will be all downhill for another few days. And then I will feel better and better till my next chemo - YAY!!

My New Boubou

My New Boubou
Boubou with handy pocket

Getting better

Getting better
Wilson and Me

Due to Popular Demand

Due to Popular Demand
I'm a Redhead

I still love my chemotherapy

I still love my chemotherapy
Who needs hair anyway?

I love my chemotherapy

I love my chemotherapy
walking to Princess Margaret