Sunday, September 15, 2013

Round Eight, Weeks One and Two

Week One started on Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, with an appointment with Dr. Cutler. We talked more about what comes after this last round of chemo: meeting with the surgeon, having the surgery, coming back to Dr. Cutler two weeks post-op, starting the hormone therapy. Keeping our fingers crossed that there won't be any need for radiation or for further chemo. Dr. Cutler also did an exam, and said that he couldn't feel the tumor there at all...YAY!!! Then I had some blood drawn and went home, feeling very positive.

Wednesday I spent the morning in the Cancer Center getting my LAST chemo session (at least for now). Found out my hemoglobin was low yesterday, so they needed to do another blood draw on Thursday when I came in for the Neulasta shot. If it's still low, I'll have to spend four hours in the Center again on Friday, getting two units of blood. Not the best news, but not as bad as having to be admitted to the hospital, for sure.

Wednesday night was girls night. I spent it with a few friends....facials, chocolates, sparkling lemonade, and lots of girl talk. It was great to get out of the house and be somewhere other than the hospital, and it was a fun way to celebrate the last chemo session as well.

Thursday morning, my oldest daughter and my son in law were at the courthouse again, for mediation for their divorce. At least both of them showed up this time...and they agreed to everything that has been set up so far. Now hopefully they'll stick to that when they go in front of the judge!

Thursday afternoon I went back to the my Neulasta shot and had my blood drawn. Got a call with the blood results, and my hemoglobin was back up to normal levels. No transfusion necessary on Friday!!!

Friday and Saturday were pretty easy days. Got a few things done around the house, which made me feel a little better about myself. Started feeling achy Saturday night , which meant taking some Motrin before bed.

Sunday I was aching all over, and the Motrin wasn't helping all that much. Couldn't find a comfortable position all afternoon. And I was still ravenous....eating everything I could get my hands on!  LOL  At dinner time, I sat at the table and started to eat, but out of nowhere got lightheaded and felt myself slipping out of consciousness. Spent about half an hour trying to solve the issue, which included passing out momentarily two different times, but couldn't make it go away. Realized that my blood pressure was ridiculously low (somewhere around 70/40), so off to the hospital we went.

In the ER, the attending told me that he thought I was suffering from a UTI (urinary tract infection), so he gave me an antibiotic pill to go ahead and start treatment. The residents from internal medicine who came to examine me after it was determined I was going to be admitted ruled that out and decided I was dehydrated and probably had a low red blood count. So, I stayed in the hospital overnight and most of the day Monday, getting IV fluids and two units of blood.

Came home Monday evening and just relaxed. Tuesday I was feeling pain in my lower back and abdomen which seemed to get progressively worse. I had a feeling that meant I actually DID have a UTI, so I started drinking a lot of cranberry juice to see if that would help me any, and decided to wait it out until Wednesday morning when I had an appointment with my primary care provider.

Wednesday was a very interesting appointment. I found out that I had actually tested positive for the UTI while I was in the hospital over the weekend but, for whatever reason, the internal medicine residents and attending chose not to treat me for it. My primary wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic, and I started feeling better by that afternoon.

Continued to feel better the rest of Wednesday and into Thursday....but by Thursday night I had a fever of 101, so it was back to the hospital one more time. Got admitted again, and they started pumping me full of IV antibiotics to see if that would get rid of the infection that much faster. The fever stayed up most of Thursday night/early Friday morning, but when the internal medicine residents and attending came around Friday morning, they were talking about sending me home with a course of antibiotics. I balked at that, since the fever was still over 100 and we hadn't gotten any test results back yet, so we agreed I would stay till Saturday morning.

The fever stayed down after that, and we got test results back saying the UTI was gone as of Friday afternoon, so I was confident I'd get to leave on Saturday.  But NO.....when the attending came in on Saturday around noon, he said that since I'd have a fever at 12:30 Saturday morning, I had to stay till I'd been fever free for 24 hours.  I still don't know what changed between Friday and Saturday, but whatever it was, I didn't like it much!  I spent the rest of Saturday, and until around 1 pm Sunday, bored to death!!

I finally got to come home this afternoon, though, and I've been relaxing in the comfort of my own home ever since. Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with the surgeon, and that will start the second part of this journey.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Round Seven, Weeks One And Two

Week two of the last several rounds has been so uneventful that it just makes sense to combine both weeks into one post at this point.

Any of you who know me very well know that I'm a creature of schedule and habit. For the first six rounds, I got into the routine of going to the hospital the first week on Tuesday (doctor and blood work), Wednesday (chemo) and Thursday (Neulasta shot). So this time around, when my doctor appointment and blood work were scheduled for Monday, it threw my whole week out of kilter in some sense---and I didn't like it!  :)

On the other hand, the appointment with Dr. Cutler was a very good one, no matter what day it was on. We actually talked about what is going to happen AFTER chemo....we're close enough to the end to start talking about the next stages of things now. I've had days when I never thought we'd get here, so that was amazing.

The next step, of course, will be the surgery. I called the surgeon's office on Monday afternoon to schedule an appointment, and that will be on September 16th. I can hardly wait for that day to get here, as we should set an actual surgery date at that point, and we'll finally be back to where I thought we were going to be in May--for those who've forgotten, I had surgery scheduled for May 10th, till the MRI found enlarged lymph nodes in the chest, which led us down the chemo path.

After the surgery, I'll have to meet with the radiation oncologist and discuss whether or not radiation will be necessary. Until we do the surgery and find out what things look like on the inside, we don't have any idea on that one way or the other. However, Dr. Cutler is cautiously optimistic that it won't be necessary.

If it's not, the next step, aside from the reconstruction, will be to start hormone therapy, which I will be on for the next five to ten years. Because my cancer was determined to be ER/PR positive, which means that estrogen helped promote its growth, we need to block the effect of estrogen and lower my estrogen levels. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is that the meds will throw me back into all the menopausal symptoms which the chemo has managed to take away temporarily:  mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats. Just when I thought I'd gotten rid of them, darn it!

And while we were talking, Dr. Cutler also gave me a prescription for some heavy duty Motrin, for the leg pain I get during the second week. Hopefully that will at least make it easier to sleep for those three or four nights.

Wednesday it was back to the normal schedule, and spending the entire morning getting chemo. This time around the Benadryl really knocked me out, and I slept most of the time away, except for the couple of times I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. Good thing Barry always brings a book with him, because I was definitely NOT much company at all.  On the bright side, the Benadryl worked, and I had no rash on my forehead, upper lip or chest this time.

Thursday it was back again, for the Neulasta shot.  I know it serves a helpful purpose, in that it boosts the white blood cell production, but I also know that it causes pain and discomfort, which I dread.

Made it until Sunday before the pain really started to bother me this time around, which was a small blessing.  It lasted for about four days, and the Motrin DID help me get more sleep than usual. All of the second week contained yet another problem, however. My temperature decided that it was going to do weird things to me. I spiked a fever over 100.4 at least once a day every single day. It never STAYED that high, so I didn't ever have to go to the hospital, but it has been a concern, for sure.

So here I am, two days away from my LAST chemo....the light at the end of the tunnel! Then it will be time to move on to the next leg of the journey, which I will also document as fully as possible.
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