Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Round Three Begins

Today was the beginning of Round 3 of chemo....the visit with my oncologist, and my blood work.

We talked about the repeated hospital stays, and decided to get pro-active this time around. Dr. Wood prescribed a 7 day course of Leviquin, to be taken from Saturday to Saturday, the typical "low point" for my immune system and white blood cells. If it keeps me at home this time around, it will become standard operating procedure for the rest of the chemo as well. If it doesn't, then we'll be back to square one.

Tomorrow...Round 3, part two...the actual administration of the chemo drugs.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Deja Vu

Sorry I haven't updated for a while, but once again, I was back in the hospital, dealing with a fever of basically unknown origins.  Here's what I do know, as sketchy as it is.

Last Tuesday, June 18th, I woke up knowing it was going to be an allergy day---my eyes were runny and itchy, my nose was running, and  my throat was sore. I didn't want to take anything for it, as my medicine options are very limited while I'm on chemo, so I decided I'd just wait till this Tuesday (tomorrow) to ask Dr. Wood for a recommendation on how to deal with them this summer. Sounded good at the time, but as the day went on and I felt worse and worse, I wasn't so sure.

By around 6 pm., I KNEW I had a fever, even without checking it, and I knew I was going to wind up admitted again. Sure enough, the thermometer delivered the bad news...so while Barry and Amy ate dinner, I packed up a bag of all the stuff I had to have Barry bring me at the hospital last time, so I'd be prepared. Then I threw on a nice comfy sweatsuit, in hopes that would keep me from having to wear the dreaded hospital gown (thankfully it worked!).

Got to the ER around 7, and went into a room almost immediately. Had to have blood work and a chest x-ray, same routine as last time. Spent a lot more time just sitting around waiting this time around, though. It was nearly midnight by the time I was taken up to the third floor to my room.

Spent Wednesday,Thursday and Friday just hanging around the hospital. Did a lot of reading, watching tv, and working crossword puzzles. My temperature kept going up and down on Wednesday and Thursday, and the staff kept pumping me with antibiotics. Unfortunately, that also meant that I suffered the same side effects as last time--diarrhea and a rash. 

By Saturday morning, my blood counts had taken a big jump, and it was time to go home. By noon, we were on our way out the door!  I spent the rest of the day, as well as yesterday, just relaxing and taking it easy.

Today's plan is pretty much more of the same. I'm currently doing laundry, then I'll spend the rest of the day watching TV kicked back on the couch. Amy and I are having dinner with a friend tonight, but that's probably the only contact I'll have outside the house all week.

Tomorrow is my appointment with the oncologist, and my lab work. Wednesday morning is chemo, round three, and Thursday afternoon is my Neulasta shot to boost my white blood cells. 

Because of that shot, and the fact that it takes 6 to 9 days to actual kick in and boost anything, my plan for this two week cycle is to live like a hermit until next weekend, and see if that keeps me out of the hospital this time. If it does, then it will become my routine from here on out....if not, then I'm back to square one. Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Paula Deen "Scandal"

First of all, anyone who knows me well knows that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a racist. I had black friends in high school and college, I have three mixed grandsons, I was one of the few people who supported  my cousin's marriage to a black man, and I have a wonderful young nephew who was adopted from Ethiopia.  I do not use racial slurs, and I don't allow those close to me to use them around me.

All of that being said, I believe that the Paula Deen situation has been totally blown out of proportion.  Yes, she admitted to using the "N"word"....once in a conversation with her husband, and once in a conversation with her brother about his wedding. Two private conversations, which should never have had to be made public, IMO. Is the word offensive? Yes, it is....but are there any of us who haven't used a potentially offensive word at some point in our life, when we're with our family members or our closest friends?

And let's not forget the era in which Paula grew up. She's a 66 year old Southern woman. That means she grew up, and became an adult, in a time before civil rights, before integration, before white people began to realize they were doing something wrong in the way they treated black people. My husband told me today that, when he lived in South Carolina in the late 70s, long after the Civil Rights Act, blacks would still step off the sidewalk to let whites pass them by---so it's not just white people of a certain age who kept that mindset long after the era had passed.

Paula has apologized, and people should just let it go....especially now that she's lost her contract with The Food Network.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another Milestone

Today, with so much hair loss, I decided it was time to go ahead and shave my head. It was nowhere near as traumatic as I thought it was going to be. I'm actually happy with how it looks, too. I just keep reminding myself, when I get down, that it's hair and it WILL grow back.

Here's a before pic, prior to starting to lose any hair.

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And here's the after pic, once it was all cut and shaved tonight
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chemotherapy, Round Two

Went back to chemo this morning at 9 am. Spent the entire time there talking to some of the other folks in the room.  We're all about the same age, and we have a lot of life experiences in common. It definitely made the time pass much quicker than the last time.

Two weeks ago, I came home and almost immediately went to sleep, which was how I spent most of the next three days. Today, I came home and ate lunch, and kept eating and drinking small things all afternoon. I took a one hour nap, but other than that I've been awake all day, on the computer or doing little things around the house.

I'm not going to presume how the rest of the cycle will go, but I'm going to enjoy the rest of this day, and take tomorrow as it comes. With all the prayers going up for me, nothing is going to surprise me when it happens. I'm just going to be grateful for what comes, and the ability to experience it.

Will write more in a day or two.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Minor Setback and The Next Step Forward

When last I left off, I was going to be getting my Neulasta shot on Thursday, May 30th. That day, as well as the next two, I had frequent bouts of nausea, but the medications they gave me kept it strictly queasiness, with no vomiting. I also spent most of the 30th and 31st sleeping, or at least lying down. By Sunday, June 2nd, I was feeling a little more energy, and I even went with Barry and Amy to a garage sale, and bought a few things.

By Monday morning, the 3rd, I woke up feeling like "me" again, and I had a fairly normal three days, with at least one trip out somewhere each day. On Thursday, the 6th, my mother came up for a visit. We went out shopping, brought home a pizza for lunch, and just sat around talking for a while. When she left, I was feeling really tired and wrung out.

Shortly after she left, I took my temperature (something I've been keeping track of on a regular basis, because if it gets to 100.5 I'm supposed to go to the ER right away). At that point, totally out of nowhere, my temp was 101.7, so off to the hospital we went.

We got there around 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon, and after blood draws and a chest x-ray I was admitted and got to my room between 5:30 and 6 pm. I didn't really find out much until Friday morning, when we started to get test results back. All of the blood cultures came back negative for infection, which led us to conclude that the culprit was most likely the bacteria from all the fresh fruit I'd been eating, thinking I was doing myself and my health a big favor. Turns out fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and even fresh flowers are taboo during my chemotherapy.

The fever was gone by Friday, and has stayed gone ever since, as long as I remember to keep myself well hydrated. Unfortunately, we still had to work to get the white blood cell count back up to normal, and that took until Sunday morning. That meant several antibiotic IVs a day, as well as heparin shots in the stomach once a day---LOTS of fun!!!

TMI warning--if you don't want to read about my bodily functions, go on to the next paragraph!! Just to throw a little more drama into the mix, Saturday morning I started to have some diarrhea. We figured from the get go that it was just a reaction to all the antibiotics, but we still had to test for this really nasty bacteria, "C. diff" (I'll spare you the full name!)  Until the results for that test came back late that night, everyone who came to visit had to wear gowns and gloves. Poor Barry did not enjoy that at all--I felt bad for him, but NOT bad enough to prevent me from snapping  a picture of him!

Continuing on the drama rollercoaster, about the same time I got the c. diff results back, I broke out in a rash on both legs and my right arm. It was the itchiest rash I had ever felt in my life. Thank goodness on of the internal medicine students on call was able to prescribe some cream for me that took care of it in no time at all.

Yesterday morning, all of my blood cell counts were back to normal. Around noon, they finally kicked me out the front door. I came home, made a few phone calls, and hit the couch with my laptop, where I spent the rest of the day relaxing.  I went to bed early, and LOVED getting a full night's sleep in my own comfy bed again.

Today, I did some more unpacking and putting away of things. Then I went in to get a shower before Bible study, and the bad news showed its ugly head again. As I washed my hair, it was coming out in handfuls. I knew this moment was going to come at some point, but I had hoped it wouldn't come quite so soon. It is what it is, though, and I'm NOT going to let it get me down. It's just hair, and it will eventually grow back.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my oncologist, and then have to get some lab work done to make sure I'm healthy enough to do round two of the chemo on Wednesday. Considering all my levels were back to normal yesterday, I'm not really concerned about that this time around.

So,now it's time to see what adventures round two will bring us.
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