September 18, 2013

Whatdid I say at the end of the last update? That I would check in more often?sigh………. Sorry about that. Sometimes you have to be in the mood, and well, it’s been an interesting summer, so I guess I haven’t been. Here goes:

I looked back and saw the date was June 28. Otherwise known as the beginning ofthe temporary downhill slide. (July was not my favorite month.) July 1 we went to a play, and I knew I felt a bit nauseated. Well, later that night some kind of stomach bug hit and lasted forever. I could not get straight. So late Sunday night Mike took me to the ER. We both thought they’d give me fluids and send us home. Nope. The Nurse Practitioner decided I was having a heart attack. Let me explain: my meds increase my heart rate, so I think that’s where she got that. Needless to say, that led to test after test after test. All I wanted to do was lie down and stop hiccoughing, heaving, and feeling sick. Oh well. I was finally admitted at 6:00 a.m. (poor Mike had been sitting in a straight chair all night while we waited for a bed). After all the tests, a visit from Dr. Smith and a cardiologist, it was determined I did NOT have a heart attack. I was just suffering from a bad stomach virus or even slight food poisoning. Came home Tuesday and finally got to sleep. It’s true, you don’t get any sleep in the hospital. At 4:30 a.m. they came in and asked if I could stand up to get my weight. Seriously. 4:30 a.m. Like that couldn’t wait ‘til morning.

Thiswas the week we were supposed to be meeting Mike’s high school friend in Louisville. Oops. That was out of the question now. Mike’s friend and his wife came down to BG for a short visit. Making the best of a bad situation. And I started the saga of eating baked potatoes for most of the month. The only thing that tasted good.

Wednesday of that week I began my new meds. I am now on an oral chemo. The regimen is two weeks on, one week off. I am tolerating it very well. Although starting it that soon after being so sick probably wasn’t the best idea. I ended up very anemic that first trip back for blood work. After 3 weeks of Procrit I came back up to speed and have been able to quit the Procrit for now. We’ll see if it holds. I feel like it will, since I really feel well. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my reaction to the drug. I have not had a lot of mouth sores (some, not horrid) and I have not had the typical reaction of a bad rash on hands and feet. My fingernails are so soft they bend, and I get fatigued at times. And a slight nausea at times. I can handle it.

Meanwhile, I am doing well with the lymphedema in my arm. I finished my physical therapy and got my own pump to use on my arm. The pump comes with a sleeve that massages the arm. That really does a lot to relieve the fluids that collect in the arm. It can be a little bit of a pain. You use it twice a day, morning and night. An hour each time. Night usage isn’t bad, but in the morning it seems to eat up the time that could be used elsewhere. (worst part of morning usage is that the humming of the machine and the massage makes me sleepy. I tend to dose off instead of reading. Lol) But the results are worth it. I can wear my rings again, which makes me REALLY happy.

Mid-July we did get to go to Banner Elk, Boone, and Blowing Rock to see Debbie and Edith. I did well—only one slight bout of car sickness (the nausea lingered for a month after that whatever it was earlier in the month) in the mountains. That was pretty darned good. We shopped ’til we dropped, ate out (yes, lots of baked potatoes and salads), and just caught up. A good time was had by all.

Onthe way home we went to Cary to see Mike’s step-mom. Just before we left on thetrip we learned that she had fallen and broken her wrist, so it was good we had planned to visit. It was a good visit with her, and with Bill, Mike’s brother-in-law. Lynne was out of town and we missed seeing her. But we did catch up with Ethel.

Now the other thing that made July a not great month: on the way home we stopped in Asheville to spend the night. I woke up about 1:30 a.m. with a very swollen tongue. I had bitten it earlier in the night, so thought that was the cause. In retrospect I probably bit my tongue because it was huge. And I do mean huge. It got to the point that I could not close my mouth. Finally, around 2:30 I woke Mike. He got me ice and we sat up a while, trying to figure out what to do. At some point it hit me: take a Benadryl. Ok, swollen tongue makes for difficult swallowing, but I got it down. It began to work, slowly but surely. Thank heaven, because if it had gotten any bigger I’m pretty sure it would have meant a trip to the ER. Mike researched Urgent Cares and we were there when they opened the doors (me with a towel in front of my mouth to cover the ugly tongue thing). Result: blood pressure meds. Apparently, even though I have been on Lisinopril forever (at least 15 years), it can cause a sudden onset allergic reaction. They gave me a shot of Benadryl in one hip and a steroid in the other. And a prescription for steroids. I was dozing off before we got out of the parking lot! This incident relates back to the swollen face earlier in the spring. Maybe it wasn’t the Metropolol, or maybe the combination of that and the Lisinopril worked together to set off the reactions. We ditched that medicine and I called Dr. Reed as soon as we got home. My blood pressure was excellent, so we stopped meds for a while. Mistake. It slowly crept back up, causing huge swollen feet and a hard time breathing. New meds for blood pressure (with many assurances from Dr. Reed and the pharmacist that it’s a different class of drug and I should not have this reaction again), and I’m good. I also lost another 10 pounds. Yep. It’s a diuretic. Worked like a charm. Some folks have worried about the weight. Dr. Smith’s comment was just: don’t lose any more. I haven’t. In fact, I’ve gained a few pounds. It’s all good.

That,friends, was our July. Thank heaven August came along and things startedgetting better. It took several weeks to really feel well again. You know how it is after you’ve been sick with the flu or other somewhat debilitating illness. It takes a while to really, really feel good again. I decided we were going to write off the month of July this year, other than the visit to NC. And as I told a friend, the weird thing about both issues is that they really didn’t have anything to do with cancer. Life goes on and stuff happens.

The super news came week before last. I see Dr. Smith every 3 weeks since beginning this medicine, so he can monitor side effects, blood counts, etc. This time he did a full work up. For the first time in well over a year, the tumor markers moved down instead of up. And since I’ve been feeling better I have been able to cut pain meds in half. He said that’s a direct result of the markers reversing. I rarely take break through meds for extra pain, and not as much nausea medicine. As Dr. Smith said, we had cause to celebrate that day. And I did. I stopped on the way home for an Orange Julius. Yum. The new medicine is obviously working. All good news with the upcoming trips.

The last few weeks have been great. Mike’s birthday came and went, with a quiet celebration at The Bistro with good friends, then again at Buckhead with our theatre buddies. (It was a biggie this year, so we had to make a somewhat big deal of it.) We made a trip down to Portland with the Ossellos to the grape stomping at Sumner Crest, and got to hear a great band. I’ve continued to round things up for the church bazaar, coming up in November. Some painting, some knitting, and some gramma’s attic goodies are headed their way soon. I’ve been able to get out and go to lunch with friends again (I was beginning to get cabin fever here). And now we’re beginning to make plans for our “camping” trip (we are in a cabin—no sleeping bags for this chick) and then our trip to the Grand Canyon. I’m looking forward to both. One of the great things about both trips is that we will be with dear friends. Sharing experiences always makes things better.

I am so blessed. After a somewhat rough go the last few months, I am feeling so much better. Bowling Green recently lost a dear friend, Carol Smock. What a wonderful and classy lady. Anyone who knew her is better for having been her friend. Just as I’m so blessed to have all of you in my life. What a great support system. And group of prayer warriors. Mike and I thank you.

I’ll check in after the trip out west. Maybe I’ll have some great pics to post.

Love to all,