Another Update

Not so good news this time. Now I have blood clots in my legs; one foot and leg is four times the size it should and quite painful. I’m having to get shots in my abdomen every day.Steve’s had to learn how to give the shots in case I can’t, and It’s taking me so long to type I’m suspending my blogs until there is something earthshaking to report. I hope you will understand.

Onward and Upwards.

Quick Update

I’ve been running a low-grade fever that spikes up at night. It started Monday evening after I had to take Immodium, continued yesterday, so when my temp was normal this morning, I was happy. Until lunch time when it started edging upwards again. I have also been feeling achy and don’t-touch-my-skin sensitive in late afternoon and evening. I called my onc doc’s office, and of course they told me to come in, and of course my temp was normal when they checked it (but I had taken Tylenol). My PA ordered blood work and my white count is dangerously low and I’m a little anemic. We decided that what I maybe have is viral and not bacterial based on my symptoms. And a viral infection can lower the white count.

So I got another Neupogen shot. I’m hoping that since the dosage of this one was lower, I won’t be in as much pain as I was after the last one. I have strict instructions that if I feel worse, or if I start getting chills, or if I start feeling dizzy, I’m to call 911 and get to the E.R. My white count was low enough to possibly allow life-threatening infection. I didn’t wan’t to take the shot, but after she told me that, I decided it’s probably a good thing to do. We decided I don’t need antibiotics this time as all evidence points to this being viral.

Now I’m at home, taking Tylenol every four hours, checking my temperature, drinking fluids, and hoping I don’t get chills or start feeling dizzy.

Onward and upward again!

Bump in the Road

My visit to the oncologist on Tuesday was a disappointment. My white count had tanked and my blood pressure was way high, so chemo is postponed for two weeks. I thought the high blood pressure was because of the Dexamethasone – it’s always high on infusion days – but my PA and the oncologist thought it was the Avastin. So I’m now checking my blood pressure a couple of times a day, and today it was back to my normal. I did get a shot of Neupogen to help with the white blood cell count, so by the time I have my next blood work (a week from Friday), the count should be back to normal and I should be able to get back on schedule for chemo the following Tuesday.

I have mixed feelings about the delay. I welcome the relief from side effects for a couple of weeks, but I’m also afraid that the tumors will grow during that time. Maybe that fear is irrational; I don’t know. I can’t control what’s going to happen, so I just have to trust that it won’t be too bad. In the meantime, I hope to use the extra energy I will have to take care of some of the things on my to-do-when-I-retire list, which seems to grow every day while very little gets crossed off.

Where there’s life, there’s hope. ūüėÄ

New Side Effects

I had no major reaction to the chemo on Tuesday, but they wouldn’t use my port because of some transient pain and then stabbing pains after accessing and flushing it. Accessing it gave a good blood return, and they were able to fill up all the tubes they needed for my blood work. But I had to wait to have a Port Dye Test to make sure everything was okay before they would use it for chemo, so we had to go back to the veins. It took 4 tries to get a vein that was good – twice the needle went straight through, and one vein blew as soon as she hooked up the IV. Fourth time’s a charm. ūüėÄ

The dye test was fine, so I probably just have some inflammation or irritation or something. I’m glad the port is okay – I didn’t relish the thought of having to deal with a new one again. And I certainly don’t want them trying to access my pitiful veins again.

Wednesday was a good day, until late in the day. I started to develop ‘the achies’ as I call them; all over aching. I took a couple of Tylenol and went to bed only to be awakened in the middle of the night with the dreaded hiccups. These were bad enough to shake the bed – the dogs were not happy about that. I sat up for a while and they went away.

Thursday the achies continued along with the skin on my face hurting (I just report ’em, I don’t explain ’em!)and a lower back ache. And enlarged lymph nodes in my neck. My temperature was normal, so I just took more Tylenol and went back to bed. I spent most of the day reading and napping. By Thursday evening, I was starting to feel better, but still ached along with twinges as all my neurons decided to fire at random. Lovely feeling, that. I managed to eat plenty – to keep up my strength – and drank lots of water to keep my kidneys functioning, and that meant getting up every hour or so to pee.

Friday was marginally better. More twinges than aches and my face no longer hurt. And no more hiccups. So reading and napping again. But now constipation has set in again. Ugh! It seems a side effect for all these chemo drugs is either diarrhea or constipation. Luckily I have drugs for both so I’m covered either way.

The last time I had Paclitaxel and Carboplatin I had the hiccups and the neuron-firing twinges and the constipation, so those were sort of expected. But the sore face is a new one – I can’t wait to see what my team says about that – and I haven’t seen it in any list of side effects. It will be interesting to see if I have it after the next dose next week.

Today was even better; hardly any achies and just a few twinges. I had enough energy to shower and go to the grocery store, and wash all the bed linens, so it was a generally good day.

Chemo certainly keeps life interesting!

A Little Bit of This; A Little Bit of That

I have been on edge and irritable for the last couple of days, and this is probably going to be one big whiny post, so you have been warned. Part of it is not knowing whether or not we can find another treatment that will be effective, and part of it is the pain in my hands and feet, and part of it is the state of things in general.

I have arthritis in my finger joints, especially the first joint on the first finger of each hand. And both of those fingers are gradually rotating themselves and getting totally crooked. But what is really problematic is the neuropathy in fingers and toes. It isn’t like the pins and needles you get when feeling starts coming back after a foot has gone to sleep. This is more like stabbing aches in fingers, toes, and soles of my feet to the point that I’m having to take Tylenol.

And then there’s the ear thing. It isn’t exactly ringing; it’s more like that feeling of pressure when you’re underwater. It hasn’t affected my hearing, thank goodness. I’ve always had extra sharp hearing and that hasn’t changed.

I almost forgot the brain fog. We were at the grocery store earlier in the week, and I forgot my PIN # for my debit card. No big deal because that happens periodically. But then when we got home, I could not remember picking out the fruit that we unpacked. And I know I’m the one that picked it out because Steve picks out the veggies, and I pick the fruit. Having no memory of that really freaked me out. I’ve had the can’t-remember-the-right-word often and can handle that. But this was sort of like a blackout and that scared me. It hasn’t happened since; at least not that I remember. Ha ha ha.

I know these are from the Pemetrexed, and I know I won’t be taking that again because of the severe reactions I had with the last two infusions. But I’m tired. I’m tired of the aches and pains and everything else associated with chemo and cancer. I really am trying to stay positive, but some days, like today, I just have a hard time. And I have found that writing about it really does help.

I had the PET/CT scan earlier this week; I will have blood work done on Tuesday; and we will meet with my oncologist on Thursday. No matter what the scan showed, I hope we can come up with a new treatment plan. Whether or not it will work remains to be seen. The first chemo combo I had was supposed to be the easiest one for people to deal with; not so for me. What happens next will depend on the results of the scan and the blood work.

Stay tuned…

Caregiving

I realize I haven’t said much about those brave souls who unexpectedly end up as caregivers for those of us with cancer. My partner is one of those. He thought that he would be the one to have the lung cancer because of his years of working around chemicals and dust and of smoking. But so far, he’s fine.

When he found out my diagnosis, he was upset, understandably. I think it’s harder for men; their attitude is to fix anything that’s broken, no matter what it is. Steve can’t fix this cancer, so he feels useless and doesn’t know what to do. He wants to do something to make the cancer go away and can’t, and that is so difficult for him. I think women generally handle these things better than men do; after all, most of us have been raised to be caretakers – of spouses/partner, children, then grandparents and parents – so caring for an ill partner is just another caretaking job. Men are generally fixers; if something isn’t right, they want to fix it.

I worry about his mental health and have tried to encourage him to find a group for caregivers that might help him. But I don’t think he’s made a move. Just talking to others going through the same process can help, whether for caregivers or patients. I know it helps him to have lunch with his guy friends and he talks to other friends a lot, but they aren’t in the situation he’s in, so I wish he would find some support from people in his situation. I can’t make him do it.

So what he has done is take over all the house chores; cleaning, cooking, laundry, feeding the dogs, taking them to their appointments, and chauffeuring me to all my appointments, picking up prescriptions, and ferrying lab and x-ray results to various places. For all of this I am thankful.

I know some of what I have written is all generalities about how men and women handle the situation, and I’m sure there are exceptions. I have noticed the patients in the infusion room are mostly women with a smattering of men. The men tend to settle their partners in then wander off for a while; the women mostly stay and chat. A couple of the men do stay with their partner for the whole time, but look totally bored. There is some conversation with the other men and with the nurses, but I get the sense that the men don’t want to be there. We women will chat with each other comparing notes on treatments, side effects, how to handle them, hopes for the future, any topic you might discuss over lunch. The men tend to make jokes about anything and everything and in some cases, I get the feeling that that is their coping mechanism.

I can’t address all male caregivers, obviously, but the ones I know do have a hard time because they can’t ‘fix’ this; and the women caregivers I know seem to take it all in stride. Men may see asking for help as a weakness and so often don’t take advantage of the support groups. But I have a feeling if they would just try it once, they would realize the benefits. So I will keep trying with my partner to get him to at least check out one or two. What can it hurt?

How To Become An Angel

This is a great way to help someone this Holiday season!

GYA today

HERE’S WHAT ANGELS DO:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Te7wkQ-HVrE?rel=0

 .

HERE’S HOW TO BECOME AN ANGEL TODAY:

click it for more info!
Layaway_site

If you are unable to donate this year, sharing this page on your Facebook, Twitter, Email, or any other social sharing site can really go a long way in spreading the word and helping to make sure that no child goes without presents this holiday season. SHARE TODAY!

(Pay Away the Layaway, Inc. was founded in 2011 and helps families in need
pay off layaway plans that includes toys, clothes and gifts for children.)

BONUS:

wings_and_approvalEnjoy flying!

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