Archive | July, 2012

Chemo 2 Day 14: ER Visit

31 Jul

Yesterday was a great day.  It was so wonderful to go to church, spend time with friends and we even helped celebrate our music director’s birthday at a Mexican restaurant.  Also, in the middle of the day I had a video chat session with my immediate and extended family.  I miss them so much.  It was nice to see all of their faces.  Once I’m done with treatment I’m hoping to go up for a visit (to Michigan).

Anyway, I said all that to show how great I felt yesterday.  I had no chemo brain fog, I didn’t feel weak and I hadn’t had any bone pain for quite awhile.  Then, on our way home from the Mexican restaurant I started having pain down my life arm.  I tried to blow it off and blame it on the scar banding in my arm.  When I laid down to go to bed I could not get comfortable enough to where my arm didn’t hurt, but I eventually fell asleep.  At about 12:45am I woke up from a bad dream.  I was dreaming I had pneumonia and the doctor’s wanted to do surgery on my lungs!  I realized I really was having pain across my chest.  Pretty bad pain.  I decided to get up and see about a pain killer.  By the time I got into the bathroom it was so bad I was clenching my chest and praying I wasn’t having a heart attack.  It came in waves about every 10 minutes.

Since the beginning of this journey I have had nights where I have to get up from pain, sleeplessness or whatever and I never wake up Kevan.  There isn’t anything he can do for me so I just let him sleep.  Well, last night….I woke him up.  I was scared.  We decided to call the on-call doctor at my oncologist office to find out if this is normal or a side effect from something.  The answering service said we should receive a call back in 30 minutes.  We never received one.  So, we left and went to the hospital.  It was VERY hard for me to make this decision because I really hate being at the hospital…but I really thought it might be a heart attack…it hurt so bad.  In the end, it was determined my heart was just fine.  They discharged me after that finding, but did not give me any diagnosis for my pain.  Great.  I called my oncologist this morning and was informed that this was also a side effect from the Neulasta shot and it was shoulder and sternum bone pain.  So, if it happens again….I’ll know the wave of excruciating pain across my chest is ok.  It’s normal after the Neulasta shot.  Can’t wait for the next one.   Grrr!!

If you want to read about my ER Visit you can keep reading.  Otherwise, know that I’m fine now.  The pain has subsided and I am praying I won’t ever experience it again.  Oh the fun adventures of a cancer patient!

ER VISIT:

When we arrived, I walked to the counter and told the receptionist that I was having left arm and chest pain.  She asked me for my SS#, name and birth date.  Made a phone call about chest pain and in 1 minute I was in a room changing into a gown.  I couldn’t believe how fast.  We were just driving down the road and the billboard for the hospital said 41 minute wait.  We get there and it was 1 minute.  Once in my gown two male nurses came in and hooked me up to the EKG machine and tested my vitals.  Then, the IV nurse came in.  Oh no!  I told her I didn’t want one.  She told me I had to have one.  I was thinking, “Why did I come here?????  I don’t want an IV”.  Just so you know…I have never minded having blood taken or having IV’s.  But, for some reason it is really painful for me now.  I don’t know if it is the chemo or what, but I hate it now.  I let her give me one, but she dug around 3 times (I have the bruises and marks on my arm to prove it) before getting it in.  Another woman came in with a portable X-ray machine and did an x-ray.  Then, a few minutes later the doctor came in and told me that the EKG was good and the x-ray was fine.

They had me take an aspirin and then they were going to put a shot of Morphine in my IV line.  I refused.  I asked the doctor why I was being given morphine.  He said for the pain and also because if I was having a heart attack it would help.  I asked the doctor why I had to take it if the EKG was fine.  He started to say something about me having an anxiety attack.  Seriously?  I was asleep when the pain started….I wasn’t having any anxiety!  So, he continued to want me to take something.  I asked for something that wasn’t going to knock me out because as soon as I get pain drugs or any strong drug I’m out.  I hate it.  So, he gave me something else and within 3 minutes Kevan had 3 heads, the curtains were coming alive and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I told you so!  The rest of the visit is a blur.  They asked for a urine sample…..AFTER giving me drugs that make it so I can hardly walk…..so Kevan had to help me.  Kevan instructed me not to miss the cup because they really needed urine in it.  Because I want to make sure I didn’t “miss” I handed it back to him FILLED to the rim.  “I didn’t miss honey!”  LOL!!!  I was pretty proud of myself.  Now, remember, I’m on drugs.  lol!  I don’t think Kevan thought it was funny….but I did.

Once I got back to the bed I must have fallen asleep for awhile.  I remember some talk about doing a culture because my WBC counts were way too high.  We explained to the doctor again that I was given a shot to pump them up, but he didn’t believe me until after the next nurse tried to stick another hole in my arm to retrieve blood.  OUCH.  They came back to discharge me a little while later.  Kevan was helping me get dressed and I started having the bad chest pain again.  I screamed that I was going to throw up.  He didn’t believe me because I have a tendency to say this a lot (LOL) and not actually do it.  But, I looked at him and said “seriously!”.  He ran for something and got back without a second to spare.  My precious husband held the bucket for me while I threw up over and over.  I think he will believe me now. lol!  Once this happened….I don’t remember anything.  I don’t know how I got to the car, home or changed into my pajamas for bed.  I know my hubby did it all and I am grateful for him.  I love you Babe.  I hated that I messed up our night and that Kevan didn’t get a good night’s sleep.  But, I am glad that if this happens again I know why and I know I’m ok.  It is just my sternum screaming.  It is “normal”.

Have I mentioned how much I hate hospitals.  Please….no more hospitals!  No more needles.  Tomorrow I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon for a fill….they use little needles and it doesn’t hurt.  I’m excited about going.  I haven’t had a fill since before my 1st chemo treatment and she is going to show us some computer generated “after” pictures.  We finally get to choose the size.

Bye Bye Brain Fog

27 Jul

Warning – there is a picture at the bottom of my arm blister that I received in the hospital from my PICC line tape.  If you are queasy from seeing things like this you will want to stop reading before the picture.

Today is a great day and I found out my blood counts were good yesterday!  Praise God that our prayers were answered.  No hospital stay this time! 

A day that begins with coffee and quiet time in the morning is a great day to me.  I haven’t been able to drink coffee or read my bible/devotional in many days and it brings me a lot of joy when I can start my day off well.  Going through the chemo brain fog has shown me how special the moments without brain fog really are.  I love my mornings with coffee and God.  I miss them when it doesn’t happen.  I start to feel sad and without hope when days have gone by without any study or reading.  I can feel myself getting depressed and scared that things won’t get better.  But, they do get better and God waits on me to “wake up” and spend time with Him again. 

It is hard to explain the chemo brain fog, but on those days I feel like I’m wandering around drugged.  I’m dizzy, I can’t walk well and I can hardly have a conversation.  About 6 years ago, I had a cold and took an over the counter cough medication.  I woke up in the middle of the night feeling very strange.  I woke Kevan up and accused him of drugging me and even asked him if he was trying to kill me.  LOL!  He was a little offended that I accused him.  lol!  Then, it occurred to me that I had taken 2 TABLEspoons of medication instead of 2 TEAspoons.  I got up and called the poison control hotline to find out if I was going to be okay.  They let me know that I would feel like I was in a state of “euphoria” most of the day, but it would eventually wear off.  I literally sat on the couch staring into space.  I couldn’t work, watch TV….I just stared.  The room was moving, I was in slow motion, it was awful.  It was the weirdest experience.  I hated it.  That is how I feel on chemo.  Out of my mind. 

This week was a hard week.  Even Kevan found himself depressed from it all and we even had a fight on my worst day.  Which, he apologized for later and I couldn’t even remember it….he had to remind me.  That is how out of it I was.  I know it is hard for him to see his wife so out of it, not able to walk, needing help to the bathroom, bald, pale and crying because she thinks all of her brain cells have died and she’ll never get them back.  I don’t like asking for help or needing help.  So, I have a hard time with thinking Kevan should automatically know what I need.  He’s so smart….why doesn’t he know?  I’m sorry babe.  I know you have a lot of work right now, all of your lawn equipment (tractor, mower, etc) have decided to die at the worst time and your wife wants you to be exactly what she needs.  All I can do is pray for us and pray that we become closer through this.  I love you and even though you might not be good at domestic duties you do a good job as nurse (if I let you know what I need).  :o)   If you are a woman going through this try and remember that your hubby is going through this too.  Although, he doesn’t know how you feel or exactly what you are going through…he is going through loss as well.  Loss of the life you had, loss of his wife currently and the support she used to provide.  I know this is only for a season and God will get us through this, but it is hard.  I have to remind myself when I’m frustrated with him and he’s not reading my mind that it’s okay.  I just have to open my mouth and tell him what I need.  Just like I do with God.  God wants me to ask for what I need.  So, does my husband.  I don’t know why God didn’t make men better mind readers….but….He didn’t.  lol!
 
Have I mentioned the HOT FLASHES!  Well….they are horrible!!  I go from cold to hot flash about every 30 minutes.  All night long….all day long.  Covers on me at night….then covers off me….back on….back off.  Ugh!  It is hard to sleep.  During the day I pull my head covering off to get relief and at night I haven’t been wearing one at all (since Kevan is asleep my bald head can’t bother him.  lol).  This is part of the pre-menopause the doctor warned me about.  I wonder how long it is going to last.  It is awful.  Also, I thought the bone pain was over (from the Neulasta shot)….I was wrong.  I had the back splitting pelvic bone pain again last night.  Since my counts were good yesterday I went ahead and took an Aleve.  It helped enough for me to get some sleep.  I can still feel it today, but it isn’t so bad…I can deal with it.  Today, I have been able to make breakfast and do a little laundry.  Even though my mind is clearer I still have episodes where I get dizzy and will have to sit down for a period of time.  I don’t know if it is me overdoing it or if it is normal.  Also, like last chemo treatment my underarms are swelling again and it is becoming painful for me to lift my arms.  I am taking an antibiotic that the oncologist gave me for this…so it is better than last time, but still painful and it makes it hard for me to do my scar banding exercises….which I already try to procrastinate on. 

One thing I wanted to document that I have been forgetting about.  Below is a picture of the blister that I received from the PICC line tape when it pulled at my skin when I was in the hospital.  This happens when you have chemo and your skin is not as strong as it used to be.  I am not allergic to tape…it was just due to the “pulling” and the skin could not hold up.

Here is a picture of it today.  3 weeks later.  The first couple of days we kept it bandaged and put silvadine on it (leftover from my surgery).  We made sure not to tape my skin, but only to tape the bandage.  Then, once it stopped bleeding and the blister got better I just used Aquafor or Cetaphil on it each day since the doctor told me to use them on my mastectomy/biopsy/drain scars as well.  A couple days after my last chemo treatment it was VERY red, but it has since faded to a dark pink.  Hopefully, in a few more weeks it will be gone.

I guess I don’t have anything else today.  Just trying to do some household chores so I can move around and hoping I feel well enough to go out with my hubby tonight for dinner.  I want to feel normal again.

Chemo #2 Day 9

25 Jul

Today has been a better day than the last two.  This is the day during my last chemo treatment that my fever started.  I have not had a fever today.  I am so glad!  I am still very weak and cannot walk around for long without having to sit down and rest.  But, it has been better.  Yesterday I barely made it out of bed and was in a daze most of the day.  I literally felt drugged.  Today, I have that feeling every so often throughout the day, but have been able to at least make myself meals, take a bath and get around on my own today.  Kevan had to help me quite a bit yesterday…even to help me get to the bathroom.

When I say I made myself meals today….I have a chair in the kitchen now so I can get off the couch and do something.  I hate sitting around.  So, I walk to the chair….make myself something and walk back to the couch.  Or I use the chair while I wash dishes.  I never realized how much energy it takes to stand.  I cannot stand for very long.  I get too dizzy and have to sit.  I am thankful for the chair and thankful to have something to do except to sit and watch TV.  I was also able to read some this morning and my brain actually worked enough to comprehend it.  YAY! 

Other than weakness, occasional bone pain in my hips and feeling drugged I am doing good today.  The throat and stomach burning is not hurting as bad…it comes and goes.  I am able to eat normally now…not just potatoes, eggs and oatmeal.  I will confess that in the last few days I have actually eaten an entire jar of Vlasic dill pickles!  I don’t know what is wrong with me, but they taste really good to me.  lol!  I don’t normally eat pickles.  Also, I don’t like watermelon and I am TOTALLY craving watermelon.  It is so weird.  Secretly praying that Kevan gets his hands on one before he comes home from church tonight.  Shh!  lol!!  Tomorrow I will be going in to have my counts checked.  I’m praying everything will be good.  If all goes well I should be feeling a lot better in 2 or 3 days.  At least, I did last time.

Just received a call from a woman at church.  She made Kevan and I some homemade cinnamon rolls from freshly ground flour.  I was actually browsing Pinterest and salivating over all of the desserts so I am REALLY looking forward to Kevan bringing them home from church tonight.  Thanking the Lord for this little blessing!  I am so excited!

I AM a cancer patient….

24 Jul

I was hoping my next post would be cheery, but as this is a blog about the truth of what is going on with me and I can’t lie and say my days have been that great.  So, just a warning if you are having a bad day and don’t want to read about someone else’s bad day/night too….you will probably want to skip this one.

I asked Kevan to take me to the grocery store last night so I could buy some foods I was craving (dill pickles and eggs benedict…I know…weird huh?).  I still do not feel comfortable driving because my mind is so numb and I’m so weak.  I felt okay when we left, but by the time we walked through the grocery store I barely had the energy to make it to the car.  I made it to the car and just cried.  I cannot believe how weak I am.  It makes me sad.  A few months ago I was helping Kevan chop/carry wood and now I can barely make it through a short trip to the grocery store.  Also, my wigs hurt my bald head so I just wore a head covering to the store and people were looking at me and watching out for me to let me go first.  It felt odd.  I asked Kevan if he could tell I was bald and he said, “Yes….I don’t know how to say this nicely, but you do look like a cancer patient.”  I guess I didn’t realize it until last night.  I look and feel like a cancer patient now.  It is sad.  I was hoping to be a “good” and “positive” cancer patient and not feel like one.  It didn’t happen.  I AM one and this is what it is like.

Kevan almost had to help me to bed last night I was so weak.  I did make it myself, but I could tell something was wrong.  I was scared that I was going to wake up with a bad fever and have to call the on-call doctor.  Now, I wish that was the case.  I slept on and off for about 3 hours and woke up in excruciating pain.  Have you ever wondered what it is like for your body to make White Blood Cells?  Don’t.  It is horrible.  Apparently, I’m finally feeling the effects of the Neulasta shot I had on 7/18.  I was told this shot could cause bone pain and flu like symptoms.  Why does my body think that if it is listed as a side effect it MUST have it?  This shot is VERY expensive and is supposed to help my body to produce WBC’s so I won’t end up in the hospital again.  Well, at this point.  I’m thinking 4 days in the hospital was a breeze.  My pelvic bone and back bone are in terrible pain.  I thought, “Well, I’ll just get up, make myself some tea and relax in a bath until the pain goes away.”  Um….ya….nice thought.  I got into the bath and I couldn’t even sit back it was so painful.  I just sat there moaning.  [It really is amazing how much noise I can make and my sleeping husband doesn’t wake up.  lol!  Good thing no one is breaking in.]   I don’t want to minimize labor, but I’m pretty sure this is as bad as giving birth.  I was told not to take Aleve because it can hide a fever, but at this point I knew Tylenol was not going to help me.  I took an Aleve an hour ago.  It has not kicked in.  I cannot lay on the couch as the pain is worse so I’m sort of sitting here.  Sitting is still pretty painful.  I went online and it said this pain will last about 48 hours.  Right now….I can’t imagine it.  I don’t want to be a baby, but really…..I can’t imagine it.  I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

Going through this journey has really opened my eyes to what others go through.  As far as those with chronic pain, intestinal issues, etc.  I have so much more compassion for them.  I cannot imagine being in this much pain for days at a time.  I hate taking medication and tonight I find myself wanting to drive up to the hospital and beg for a shot of pain killers.  I have a friend right now who’s husband is having really bad back pain.  It is so bad they had to take him to a specialist via an ambulance.  I’m thankful my pain is not this bad and I pray that he is healed soon.  I cannot imagine.  I hate it for him.

Also, I’ve had several FB friends have loved ones pass away this week and of course the Colorado shootings happened.  I feel so guilty even writing a post about my pain when there is so much pain in others lives as well.  I know my pain is nothing compared to theirs.  But, this is a cancer journey blog and I need to be honest.  I am feeling sorry for myself tonight.  I am petitioning God to help me.  To heal me and take this pain away.  Haven’t I been through enough yet? 

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony“.  Psalm 6:2 

This verse is for me.  I am in agony.  No sleep will be coming anytime soon.  I swear….the treatment is going to kill me.

Chemo #2 (Day 7)

23 Jul

I haven’t felt that great the last few days and I’ve found that when I have a good one or two hours of “feeling okay” I have to take advantage and do something that really needs to be done.  Like, clean up the house, preserve tomatoes or do some laundry.  Otherwise, I won’t have the strength for it later.  I haven’t even wanted to blog or check Facebook.  So, that should tell you something.  lol!  I don’t know how people watch TV all the time….there is nothing on.  I am sooooo bored.  I cannot read right now as my eyesight is not that good for some reason and I even have a hard time following a movie since my brain is so fried.  I can’t wait until the chemo treatments are over and I can get my brain back.

I am grateful that I was able to go to church yesterday.  It was a little hard going to both service and Sunday School, but I’m glad I went.  In my last post I mentioned how I had about 100 tomatoes to preserve.  I took it little by little and was able to skin, core and freeze 8 quarts of tomatoes for sauce, soup or stew later this year.  Yesterday, I finished up the rest and made two quarts of salsa.  I just sat at the table most of the time so I wasn’t using so much energy standing and took lots of breaks.  I am so blessed that even though Kevan and I decided we couldn’t do a garden this year (because of my diagnosis) we have had friends and family give us their leftover veggies.  I have several quarts of beans, tomatoes and okra that we can enjoy later when I’m up to eating them again.  I would’ve rather canned them, but freezing was the best alternative for how I feel and I’m so glad we have them.

Anyway, I am still having a lot of problems concentrating.  My body and mind feel numb.  My throat was on fire Saturday and Sunday, but after my nightly Chamomile tea last night I haven’t had any throat pain.  I had a low fever last night, but it has since subsided.  Yay!  I am still extremely tired and I can’t call myself a morning person right now.  Normally, I am, but lately I struggle with getting up in the morning.  Today has been a day of intestinal issues.  I have so much more respect for people that have problems in this area (constipation, diarrhea, pain) on a regular basis.  Really, I’ve never experienced issues in this area prior to chemo.  It is awful.  A lot of moaning, laying on the floor in the bathroom in pain and just lots of prayer that it will get better.  I pray that the Lord provides me with a good “system” again after chemo and I am so sorry for those that suffer with it on a normal basis.  I know….TMI, but it is a part of chemo so I wanted to mention it.

We’ve had some friends from church bring us meals the last few days.  It has been so great.  I don’t have to worry that Kevan needs to eat and each time they’ve brought something that I’ve been able to eat too.  Whether it is just mashed potatoes, cornbread or not so spicy meat…I am very thankful.  Kevan was able to get some good chili, roast pork, carrots, corn, etc too.  So, we are both grateful.

This is the week I ended up in the hospital during the last chemo treatment so I’m a little scared this week.  I wore a mask when I went to my PT appointment today since one of the ladies son had been sick over the weekend.  I sure don’t want to end up in the hospital again.  It was awful last time.  Thank you all for your prayers.  I still have a few posts I want to do when I’m up to it to talk about some free cancer organizations/classes and also a top 10 list of why it is nice to be bald.  :o)  But, I haven’t had the mind to pull it together yet.  I’m fuzzy.

A few of the other side effects I want to remember for next time are:  very painful fingernails, eyesight issues, nausea still, back pain and some joint pain.  Chemo brain fog and tiredness.  Lack of concentration.  Tongue/gums is starting to feel better again.

Catch-up Post

21 Jul

My brain is not working so I am unsure if this post is going to make sense.  Also, my vision is not good today so it is hard for me to read or watch TV.  I am on Day 5 of Chemo #2 (Day 26 from Chemo #1).  Currently, my tongue feels like sandpaper, my throat and stomach are burning, I have nausea, my whole body feels numb, the skin under my fingernails is very sore and I am exhausted.  This may sound bad, but really…it is better than last time.  I actually took a nap yesterday afternoon and I still slept 10 hours last night!  I couldn’t get myself up.  I’m thankful that I’m sleeping, but I feel like I’m wasting my day.  With my brain fog though it doesn’t really matter if I’m awake because I’m not all there anyway.  lol!  I haven’t had a rash or skin issues like last time so I think that the steroid has helped a lot with this.

Those of you that are Facebook friends know that I drove myself to my Physical Therapy appointment on Thursday and realized on my way that I shouldn’t be driving.  It was hard to admit, but my brain feels numb and I just knew I couldn’t drive back home.  Kevan’s dad graciously drove up and dropped Kevan off so I wouldn’t have to drive myself back home.  Also, on the way to my PT appointment I wanted a baked potato from Wendy’s to help with my nausea.  Well, I drove up to the drive-thru and there were no potatoes on the menu.  I asked them if they no longer had baked potatoes.  They were like, “No ma’am, we don’t have baked potatoes”.  So, I just ordered the blandest item.  When I got up to the window I was at Burger King.  Not Wendy’s!  Oops.

Here is a picture of my arm wrapped.  They did this at PT to see if it would relieve some of the fluid in my arm.  It did seem to go down a little when they took it off 24 hours later. 

Due to the banding I have from my mastectomy and the extra fluid in my arm I’m having to go to PT 3 times a week.  They mostly do massage and have me do exercises, but it takes about 2 hours each time.  So, I’m a little stressed out because I don’t want to take up that much time from Kevan’s work day so he can drive me and I don’t want to take up anyone else’s day either.  :o(

For someone on chemo I think I’m doing pretty good this time.  Kevan and I were able to drive to Chattanooga to see some friends that were up here from Florida.  It was so great to see them!!  Love you Pam and Julia!  I just had a little nausea and tiredness.  When we returned home yesterday I was exhausted though.  A couple from church brought us dinner (thank you Sheri & Willie!) and it worked out really well since I didn’t have the energy to do anything.  Kevan really enjoyed it too!  I was able to eat a little cornbread and pulled pork.  :o)  I am so thankful for everyone’s prayers, dinners, cards, gifts and words of encouragement.  Kevan and I know we could not get through this without all of you.

I have some other things I want to post about, but I am just too exhausted right now to sit up and type this so I will try to get to it later.  Also, I have about 100 tomatoes that I have to preserve today and I have no idea how I’m going to get the energy to do it.  I don’t want to waste them.  I’m hoping to do a little here and there between my naps.

Chemo #2

18 Jul

Yesterday, I had my 2nd chemo treatment.  I had mentioned in my last few posts how I was dreading it, but I was actually pretty calm and not worried at all.  I read some scripture in the morning, had my prayer time and with everyone else’s prayers I just had a calm spirit yesterday.  I had a friend having an outpatient surgery procedure yesterday as well so I had the opportunity to think about her and pray for her as well.  It is such a pleasure to pray for others since I know so many are praying for me.  Sometimes I feel guilty that so many are praying, but I know I couldn’t get through this without those prayers.  So, I just love the opportunity to pray specifically for those that are praying for me.

We arrived at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center at 10:15AM.  They called me shortly after to get my weight, vitals and take blood to check my counts.  Then, we met with my doctor.  We went over all of the side effects that I experienced.  My blood counts were all good today (praise God!).  So, the doctor decided to lower my taxotere dose since the bad side effects I experienced were from the taxotere.  I was glad to hear I wouldn’t be getting a full dose.  I believe he left the cytoxan dose the same, but I’m going to call the office today to get confirmation and I’ll post the actual #’s here once I get an update.  Also, I will be taking a steroid (Dexamethasone) by mouth twice today and start on an acne medication (this is supposed to help my swollen underarms…weird, but I guess it works).  I guess they see this swollen underarm lumps/fluid a lot when someone is going through chemo.  It is something I have always had apparently, but it worsens at this time.  So, for that he prescribed Doxycycline.  I have to take it every day for 30 days.  I am not good with remembering my medication so I really hope/pray God helps me with this.  My underarms still hurt so bad that I cannot do my lymphedema and mastectomy post-op exercises as good as I need to.  :o(

After we saw the doctor we went right to the chemo room for treatment.  Here is a pic of me.  We are not supposed to take pictures…so I tried to hide it.  lol!

The nurse took my blood work from my elbow/middle arm area so when they went to do the chemo they couldn’t use that vein.  I don’t know why, but before this it was no big deal giving blood.  It barely hurt, but my arms seem so sensitive now and it HURTS.  I hate it.  Next time I will try to remember to tell the blood work nurse not to use the middle arm area so they can use it for my chemo (if you are trying to decide whether to get a port…get a PORT it is so much easier I’m sure).  I have better veins in my right arm, but I won’t let them use that one due to lymphedema precautions and because it is already showing signs of excess fluid build up since I had 3 lymph nodes removed from that side.  Anyway, they chose a small vein in my hand.  This wasn’t good at all.  The steroid went through the IV first with no issues, but the anti-nausea med came from the fridge so the cold liquid was totally hurting me.  They tried using a hot pack on my arm, but it just burned the whole time.  I sucked it up until that one was done, but the taxotere was also cold so it was so awful to feel the burning pain the whole time.  So, I prayed and then I texted my mom and asked her to pray.  She sent a text out to my brothers and my aunt…and they also prayed.  Within minutes the pain was gone!  It was so awesome.  God answered!  So, I was praising the Lord and telling the nurses that we had prayed and God comforted me.  :o)  I also had the “water up the nose” feeling when the cytoxan was almost finished, but now that I’m used to it and I know it will go away I was okay with it.  We left the chemo room at about 3:15pm.  It takes a little over 5 hours from our day each time.

I met another chemo patient yesterday that is around my age.  She has had breast cancer twice.  The first time she had a wire localization biopsy of her lump, in the beginning, and they told her it was benign.  So, she ignored it.  Then, 3 years later she decided to have a lumpectomy instead because it was bothering her.  They determined it was malignant.  (I had the lumpectomy the first time…I didn’t want the lump…so this just tells me that a lumpectomy to remove the whole mass is better)  By that time she was Stage 3b.  It had gotten into her lymph nodes.  She went through a mastectomy (she didn’t say whether it was single or double) and chemo.  They told her she was cancer free. Then, during one of her check ups years later they found cancer again.  It had metastasized to her liver and some other organs.  She had to go through chemo again.  I felt so bad for her.  She is a beautiful girl and her hair had all grown back now.  She is now doing a clinical study with a different chemo that doesn’t make her hair fall out.  We talked about the weight gain.  She was about 100 lbs when she found out she had breast cancer.  I would say she is now about 140.  But, she exercises and she said she feels healthy so she doesn’t worry about the weight anymore.  I wish I had gotten her name so I didn’t have to pray for the “girl from chemo 2”, but maybe I will see her again.  I forgot to give her one of my cards with my website.  I’ll do that next time if I see her.

Also, while I was there, there was an older woman that was not doing well at all with her treatment.  She was vomiting.  I felt so bad for her.  On the way home I was convicted that I didn’t pray for her while I was there.  I should’ve prayed for her at that time and for some reason it never occurred to me.  So, I prayed for her while I was in my car that things would get better for her, that she would know the Lord and that he would heal her.  I also prayed for her son that was with her.  That he would be what she needed and that God would work in his heart as well.  I was very blessed yesterday that I only had a little bit of arm pain.  I know I am so blessed.

I had the friend that I met (Keli) stop by to see me while I was there.  She is so sweet!  She is done with her chemo treatments (Praise the Lord!).  She brought me 2 very pretty hats and another special gift that I will talk about in another post.  It was so nice of her.  It was so great to see her and to hear how she is doing.  She is going back to work on Monday.  :o)  I love that we are in contact now and I can hear how everything else is going for her (hair growth, final surgery, etc) and that I can also ask her questions.  I believe God introduced us to each other and I hope we have a long friendship since we share this journey that God put us on.  Keli, if you are reading this…thank you for making my day!  It was great to see you.

Kevan and I went to Qdoba like we normally do when we are in Nashville.  It was nice and yummy.  Then, for dinner we went with my MIL to Cafe Fontanella.  It was yummy too.  My stomach started to feel sick…I call it “roly poly-ing”.  I didn’t have nausea, just this rolling feeling.  I hate it.  So, I won’t be eating much today.  I will probably not even have my morning coffee.  My MIL is going to go with me to get my WBC shot today and also to a “Look Good…Feel Better” class.  They give you free makeup and teach you how to look better bald.  :o)  It is a free service for those that have lost their hair due to cancer treatment.  If I’m feeling okay I’ll do a post tomorrow on how it went.

Thanks again to everyone for your prayers yesterday.  I love you all!  God is definitely answering them.

Day 15-17 After Chemo: Starting to feel myself again

12 Jul

I’ve been feeling a lot better.  Besides having a daily headache I’ve been doing really well.  Tuesday I was able to take a walk with my hubby.  I think we walked about 1.5 miles.  We just walked down the road to a pretty bridge over Mountain Creek and then back home.  I wanted to keep up walking each day, but we had to head to Nashville again Tuesday night for doctor’s appointments yesterday so I didn’t walk.  Then, this morning it is raining so I might have to actually use my treadmill.  :o)  I think today is the first day that I have baked since before my surgery.  A very sweet friend brought us a basket full of fresh veggies from their garden and also freshly-picked blueberries.  So, I ground some Ezekiel flour and made some Ezekiel muffins with the blueberries for breakfast.  It was nice to bake again.  I’m going to try to get up the energy to make some bread today too.

Tuesday we went to the American Cancer Society to see what head coverings and wigs they had.  They only had about 25-30 wigs and most of them were gray haired or very short haired.  There was only one blonde one that didn’t have bangs so I ended up taking that one home.  It was free!  Also, women can donate their left over head coverings so I was able to look through to see if anything appealed to me.  I chose a black headband to wear under my head coverings and a floral turban type to wear to bed.  Kevan didn’t like it the looks of it, but it was comfortable to sleep in.  I might have to get my sewing machine out and sew up a simple beanie cap for bed.  Here is a picture of the free wig they gave me. 

I went to the oncological surgeon yesterday so he could look at my swollen underarms.  He said that he didn’t want to do anything about it right now.  Sometimes, when they lance them or drain them it can become infected and create a bigger problem.  So, I’m supposed to continue the antibiotic to see if it improves.  It is amazing how much chemo can mess up a body.  I never thought I would end up with big lumps under my arms.  It actually seems worse today than it was yesterday.  I’m pretty worried about it getting bad again after chemo Tuesday.  But, I’ll continue to pray and ask God to help it go back to normal. 

I also had another appointment with my Physical Therapist.  She measured my arms.  Before surgery my right arm was 1% larger than my left.  Now, it is 6% larger so she believes it is the beginning of lymphedema in my right arm.  I was so scared of this and talked it over with my doctor’s several times prior to surgery.  They told me over and over again not to worry that I was young & thin and I wasn’t high risk.  So, I okay’d the sentinel node biopsies (which came back cancer free).  Well, now I’m being fitted for the compression sleeve/glove and will have to wear it every day for the rest of my life.  I’m pretty sad about it.  I will also be seeing a PT near our home to have massaging done and learn exercises for it.

Over the last few days I have realized how much my husband is being affected by a lot of this and sometimes I don’t take him into consideration.  I need to remind myself that this is hard on him too.  His wife has gained 20 pounds in 2 months.  She can’t fit into her cute clothes anymore.  She’s had her breasts removed and hard expanders added, she has scarring, is not feeling well most of the time and she doesn’t have the energy to just up and go.  The thing that really woke me up to this is that I am okay with my bald head.  I don’t mind walking around the house, going out to get the mail and I probably would be okay going around town like this just to shock people.  LOL!  But, he doesn’t feel the same way.  He wants his pretty wife back.  We went out to dinner on Tuesday night and I just wore a scarf.  I didn’t feel like putting a wig on.  Once we got there I could tell it bothered him.  I talked with him about it and he asked if I could wear my wig when we go out, at least until he was used to it.  So, even though I’m okay with not having hair he is the one that has to look at it all the time.  I need to be sensitive to that.  When I’m around the house he wants me to wear a head covering.  I understand.  He doesn’t want to lose his sexy wife and it seems each week he’s losing a little piece of her.  Hopefully, when we are through this journey I’ll be able to fit into my skinny clothes again, my scars will fade, my long hair will grow back just as pretty and I will have the energy to go hiking and do fun things as a couple again.  For now, with the things I can control (head coverings/wigs)…I need to give in a little for him.  So, if you are going through this and you are married…remember your husband wants his sexy wife….so on your good days….try to be what he needs.

I don’t really have much else to write about.  I am hoping to get caught up on housework between naps today so my house will be in order before I get chemo again on Tuesday.  Man, I am dreading Tuesday.  :o(

Day 14 – My Bald Head

10 Jul
When I woke up today my hair was falling out in HUGE clumps.  I don’t know why, but I thought it would fall out little by little.  Um….no.  It falls out in handfuls.  Here is a picture of a ziploc bag of how much hair just “fell out” during the day today.  It is a GALLON size ziploc bag.  So, we decided.  Today was the day.  I didn’t want to go through this again tomorrow.
Kevan and I decided to have fun with this.  Kevan’s dad came over with his clippers and we got to work.  I didn’t want it to be a sad time.  I knew it was going to happen, I accepted it and I prayed for God to give me the strength I needed to get through it.  He answered my prayer because we didn’t shed a single tear (Kevan or I).  We laughed all the way through it.
Here is a before picture.  I normally straighten my hair every day….so this is a really BAD picture of me because I had to let it just dry. Also, I didn’t put any makeup on.  I guess I should’ve, but I didn’t feel like taking the time.  Plus, the shower curtain ism’t doing much for me.
If I had taken the time to straighten it…there would not have been any hair left.  To give you an idea…..here is a picture of my clean brush.
This is a picture of ONE brush through.  Just ONE.  CRAZY!  It is pretty gross!
First thing we did was cut off my ponytails.  This is what we ended up with.  Short haired Jayde.  As you can see…my part is already starting to look bald.
Here is a side view.
Then, he shaved the sides.
Lovely.  Can you tell I’m a girl?
David….here is the scar in the back of my head that you gave me from the back of the hammer you threw at me….I mean dropped on me…by accident.  I know.  I know.  You knew it would come up….didn’t you?  lol!!
Wow…I sure didn’t recognize myself in that last picture.  As you can see from below….Kevan wasn’t that great with making a mohawk.  He had to work a little harder.  He said it was my fine hair….I don’t know.
Side view after we cut off more of the sides.
The mohawk thing just wasn’t working for me.  My part balded earlier today…so it just didn’t look right.
So….what did I learn?  I have a REALLY ugly bald head.  LOL!  Lots of scars, bumps, moles.  Eww!  Here is a picture of the floor when we were done.
I wonder how many of you scrolled to the bottom first to see the “after” picture.  Well, here you go.  Here is Jayde will her ugly bald head!  LOL!!
I had to change the background and my shirt.  I just couldn’t reveal the after picture looking all pale.  I told Kevan how happy I was that I had straight teeth (I just got my braces off in April) and he said, “Ya, because everyone’s going to be looking at your teeth.”  LOL!  Thanks Babe…what exactly are they going to be looking at?
Also, my father-in-law said….”if you take one earring out you’d look just like Mr. Clean.”  Um….thanks.  LOL!
I truly believe God gave me some special grace to get through this.  I’m glad it wasn’t a sad experience and that Kevan and I were able to have fun with it.  I did try on a few of my head coverings and I’m a little disappointed because they don’t look that great, but I probably need to work with them a little.  I’ll definitely have to wear makeup and earrings too.  If I don’t wear earrings people will think I’m a boy.  Anyway….I hope you enjoyed the post and got a few laughs.  :o)

Day 13 – Holy Cow Batman – Literally!

9 Jul
I literally feel like a cow.  I gained 9 pounds while I was in the hospital.  9 pounds!  I kept telling Kevan I felt huge and when I walk I feel like a pregnant woman.  I sort of waddle.  So, between surgery weight and hospital weight I have gained 19 pounds.  Seriously??  I was afraid of this when I was diagnosed.  I hate it.  I feel so swollen.  Anyway…..enough about my fatness….I’m getting depressed.
I came home from the hospital today!!!!  We are praising the Lord.  I was in the hospital for 4 days.  3 days ago they diagnosed me with neutropenia and informed that if I got sick with an infection or virus I wouldn’t have any white blood cells to fight it and could die within hours.  It was pretty scary.  But, with much prayer (mine and so many others) God graciously brought me through it.  That night our church sent out a text message to pray for me, our family was praying, co-workers and friends…..overnight my counts went up and then the next night they doubled.  It was awesome!  I am so blessed.  
I was told to call my Oncologist tomorrow morning and schedule an appointment to have him look at the swelling in my underarms.  I have to have this resolved before my next chemo treatment on 7/17 or the drop in WBC might happen again.  Also, one of the mistakes I made after chemo on 6/26 was the Neupogen shot.  The doctor asked me if I wanted it in case my WBC dropped or did I want to wait until there was a drop.  I said to wait because I had heard the shot gives so many bone pain and I was scared of the bone pain.  After the fact….I would’ve much rather had the bone pain.  So, the day after my 7/17 treatment I will receive the Neupogen shot.  Gladly!
Kevan and I arrived home at about 5:30 Central.  It was wonderful.  We brought everything in, played and loved on the kitties for a few minutes and then went outside to sit on our deck and enjoy being outside.  It was great to sit out on the deck and appreciate God’s creation.  I love it.  I saw two bunnies playing together and eating here and there.  An indigo bunting flew in and stayed for the longest I have ever seen them sit.  They hardly ever show up let alone sit around for long.  Here is a picture of one I took in the past.
 We started seeing a bunch of hummingbirds in our pear tree so we decided it was time to fill the feeders.  Kevan grabbed the hummingbird feeders and I grabbed the bird feeders.  We filled them all and put them back up so we could enjoy our view a little more and the birds would really enjoy their feeders being full again.  When we were almost done putting the feeders back up a big wind came through.  All of a sudden we heard a loud CRACK!  I ducked.  We both knew it was a tree falling.  So, we both looked around and saw that it was a tree near our fence line that had died.  Kevan was going to take care of it in the fall, but it didn’t wait that long.  It fell.  lol!  I was so glad it wasn’t near the house.  Last year we had a huge Bradford Pear fall near the house so I was glad that this one wasn’t anywhere near us.
I am so blessed to live here.  It is a 100 year old farmhouse with a huge barn and 8 acres.  It is old and needs a lot of work, but Kevan and I enjoy it here so much.  I am so thankful that after 4 days of being cooped up in a VERY small hospital room I can come home, sit out on my deck and look out at our pasture, feeders and trees to view so much of what God has blessed us with.  It is so beautiful.  I love sitting in my chair, hearing a hummingbird above me and looking up to see him at the feeder or sitting quietly in our pear tree.  
After our little rest on the deck I decided to clean my house some.  I was so sick last week that it fell to pieces.  I left dishes all over the kitchen, papers everywhere, floors unswept, etc.  I am so embarrassed that a few people stopped by to check on our house/kitties while we were gone.  But, I am thankful that they did.  I cleaned the kitchen, swept a little and that was enough.  It was nice to be able to do it though.  One thing I’ve learned is that while you are doing chemo….if you feel good…you better do what you need to do because when you feel bad….you will feel REALLY bad and you won’t be able to do it.  So, I took advantage of my good day.  It was a great day!  God answered so many prayers and I am so blessed to be loved by so many that were praying for me.  My heart is so full.  There are days that I am in despair and I struggle so much, but I am so glad that there are days that I truly see God’s love for me.  He is there all the time, I know.  
I am home.  I am okay now.  He is with me.  I love Him so!
Psalm 103:1 – “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
Prayer is a blessing I hope that you take advantage of.  It is a an amazing gift that God has given us.  To approach His Throne of Grace with our petitions.  To have a relationship with the one that created all things.  To talk with Him, cry to Him, ask of Him….to love Him, praise Him and worship Him.
“If your soul is starving, look to see how far you are from the Throne of Grace.   Prayer is the road to a deeply satisfying, drought-resistant joy in God.” – Charles Spurgeon