Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007 - Yucky Day

Hey Bloggy,

Well, we knew we were going to hit one and today was it... they Yuck! Day. Yep... 4 days later and the chemo effects take hold in the way of a very queasy tummy and everything that comes with an upset tummy. I realize that this is the chemo starting to reach out and destroy cells... and this is why we are going through this, but I really don't care for queasy tummies :)

Also, today's concern was that my blood pressure was still way too high. So, what to do, what to do. First, get the queasy tummy under control. I took one of the "take every 8 hours as needed" anti-nausea pills but it didn't really kick in. So, more drastic measures... a puff or two of medicinal herb and that seemed to do the trick. Now I could get myself up in the monsoon rains to the doctor, my GP.

He was not surprised that my BP was up... after all, this is a very stressful time to be going through, there's no getting around that reality. It's just a matter of me accepting that and then working on various relaxation techniques. But, he did want me to go back on the Vasotec 5mg because he said that Blood Pressure is something we can control and there's no need to be playing with it being high.

Tonight, the BP did come down... not quite to where I want it, but it is down, and that's without the Vasotec. So, I'm holding off taking it until I see what it is in the morning. The last two mornings it has been high, but if it's lower tomorrow morning, then I may hold off on the Vasotec.

Other than that... not much to report today. The weather was horrid... downpour all day! It's not overly cold, just wet, wet, wet... and more wet! March is going to go on record of being the wettest one in years!



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 -- Unplugged

Hiya Bloggy,

Well, we made it! This afternoon was the end of the 5FU chemo drug, so it meant going into the Cancer Agency this afternoon and having the pump unplugged. I was feeling pretty darn good about this session... I made it through with very mild side affects. A wee big of queasiness and that darn headache, but that's about it. But then Nurse Kati, who took off my pump said that now I'll probably start feeling the side affects of the chemo. Her reasoning was that now that this session's chemo is finished, I also am finished my anti-side affects drugs. Those I only take during the actual time I'm getting chemo.

I guess that is what people mean when they say the first 2 days are ok, but they don't really feel anything until the 3rd and 4th day. We shall see... I'm always so different, that trust me not to follow the norm :) In this case, I hope I don't follow the norm!! Hahahaha!

Oh, but there was one thing that was a little concerning. My Blood Pressure was up high today (170/96). I mentioned this to Nurse Kati and she was very surprised. She said that normally, Blood Pressure DROPS when on chemo, so this is not the norm (what did I say about me never being the norm??). She wants me to watch it for the next day or two and see if it goes down now that I'm not on the meds. She feels it will go down and that we don't necessarily want me on more BP meds because as time goes on and my white blood cells drop, so will my blood pressure as I get weaker. And, if truth be known, the less meds I'm on, the happier I'll be.

Oh well, we shall just have to keep an eye on things and see how they go!

Tonight, I get to go to bed without the pump! So sleep should come quite easily :)

Nighty nite!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - Day 2 of 1st Chemo

Hiya Bloggy!

Well, here we are at Day 2 and all is going well. After writing last night's blog, I did end up getting a few side affects that I hadn't had before writing the entry. I got somewhat queasy, although not sick to my stomach. I lay down for about 10 minutes and it passed... and yes, I forgot about some medicinal plant products I have been given in case the traditional anti-nausea meds don't work. Totally forgot about them :)

And oh my...that headache just wouldn't let up so I tried to hold off, but finally submitted and took an Oxycodone (may have mentioned that last night)... and that worked great. Got rid of the headache. So, I will be talking to Dr. Gill when I go to see her next week and explain that the Tylenol 3s with codeine aren't the ticket, I will need some Oxycodone for when the headaches appear.

Other than that.. nothing worth complaining about. It's true, I didn't get to sleep until 2:30am and then woke up at 6am. So, this could be anti-nausea drug induced insomnia, then again, I have always been a night owl and love the mornings too so my body doesn't know if it wants to go to bed early or get up late or do the opposite (grin). Either way... it now makes sense why you just go with the flow and sleep when you can and find things to do when you can't (of which I have oodles of hobbies to keep me busy).

Today, it was bloody cold and windy outside!! Sunny, yes, but cold and windy!! I hate to think if this wind has done more damage to Stanley Park... the park is devastated as it is from past wind storms!! Anywho, I did take the little diva out for her morning walkies and yes, with the cold wind I noticed my face getting tingly. I was told if this happens, get OUT of the cold and wind... so we went home. The good sign, my feet and fingers were fine!! So maybe the only part of this side affect I'm going to feel is the throat and face that will be sensitive to cold.

This afternoon, it was still windy and cold... it just didn't let up! So Graie came downstairs and took Bridget out for her afternoon walkies. Tonight, the wind had stopped, so no problem... her and I could go out and do our late night evening walkies. When we got in, she demanded her evening treat, which she usually doesn't get until we go to bed. That's when she gets her cauliflower floret. Well, I'm not ready for bed yet (grin) so I gave her a baby carrot so she's happy. Demanding little diva that she is... I wonder who she picked that up from???

Speaking of the little diva. She is in such dire need of a haircut!! I'm roaring here but it was time to get off my butt and set her up with an appt. Unfortunately, everyone else is thinking the same thing, so the soonest appt. I could get was April 11th... then she will be a little darling again. Right now, she is an orphan terrier!

Hey, that's great that a bunch of you added comments!! Hahaha... that's one of the fun things of an online blog. I can babble away and then you all can add your comments. So don't be shy.. feel free to add your comments and babbling. I love it!

Well, there are dishes waiting in the sink for me to wash and then I want to start scanning some pictures for a project I'm thinking of working on. Nothing like starting at 11pm at night, is there? (grin)

Ciao for now!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday, March 19th, 2007 -- 1st Chemo Session

Hiya Bloggy,

Well, it's Monday morning... the day has arrived! And yes, I have to admit, despite a good attitude, etc., I'm a tad bit nervous. I don't know if it's me being nervous or anxiety, but really, what's the difference? On the one hand, I'm calm because I know that no matter what, I'm going to be fine and these heavy duty drugs that are toxins are, nasty as they might seem, a GOOD thing and they are going to give me the best chance possible of the cancer not recurring. So, ok, they may have to kill off all my healthy cells along with the bad cells, and then my body's systems have to regroup and regenerate the good cells... but it's a battle where the good cells are going to be the winners in the end.

Hey, look at the bright side... neither George Bush or Stephen Harper are the leaders of this battle. Heaven help me, if either of them had any input, I'd have every reason to be AFRAID!!! (grin).

So, it's 10am and I've taken the diva outside, fed her, showered and am dressed. Steve will be coming to pick me up at 12:30, so I have 2+ hours to unwind, have some toast and tea, and putter around on the computer to entertain myself.

I'll come back later tonight and update this entry with how the first session went. I'm sure once the first session is over ... well, after the first week is over... I'll be more relaxed because I'll know more what to expect.

Ciao for now!

UPDATE: I am home now... and have actually had a 2 hour nap to boot! It was not bad and the process of being in the chemo room is no big deal. I suppose, for someone who has not had a lot of exposure to hospitals, IVs, machines, etc., it can be scary, but trust me... after spending weeks in a hospital, the chemo room is very anti-climatic (grin). And the time just whizzed by because (grrrrr) I introduced Steve O. to the game "Blockus" and the bum kept beating me at it!!

Here is the evil game and I'm sure we are going to have many more screaming matches over it!! HAHAHA!! Actually, this is the traveling version for two.. there is also a game for 4 people which I may have to bring with me if we get a foursome to play.

Here is competitor #1... and yes, he DID win about 29 games (grin) and yes, I only won one against him! I tried to use the excuse that he was taking advantage of my being pumped with chemo, then said that I think I was feeling bloated and he was taking advantage of that... but he just wasn't giving me any leeway with the excuses!

And then along came Competitor #2... Jo! She was working downstairs so when she was off work, she joined us up at Chemo Party Central. She, also, had never played this game so caught on very quickly and she took on the Steve Champ. She won a game against him, but he won another 4 or 5. We definitely have to gang up on this boy!

So, when we first got there, Nurse Fran explained the various drugs I was going to be taking and all the potential side affects. She, like all the staff at the Cancer Agency, is just great!

I didn't get a picture of Nurse Kati, but she came on towards the end. Talk about going back in time!! Kati was one of Kim's nurses... Kim being our good friend who unfortunately passed away almost 2 years ago (May 10, 2005). Kati recognized all of us as "that great support group of friends!!" So I said, "Ya, we were so close during that time we decided to do it again!" Anywho, Kati should be around during our many visits to the Agency :)

So, starting at the beginning I had to take an Ondansetron pill and 3 Dexamethasone pills. These were the prescriptions I had to fill before coming in... and they both are used to reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. These pills are expensive!! The Ondansetron is $20/pill and the Dexamethasone is $54 for 30 pills. Thank goodness for Extended Health Insurance... my "anti-side affects" medication is $100 for 4 days, but I only had to pay $3.17. Phew!

I had a bag of calcium/magnesium mix then infused into my port, that you can see by my collarbone. This bag of goodies is to help alleviate this side affect where my feet will go numb and be perpetually cold... as well, my fingers will tingle and be really sensitive to touching anything cold. She even advised wearing gloves if I was going to be outside in the cold, or if/when I'm taking something out of the fridge/freezer. It also means I can not drink any fluids that are cold... they must be at room temperature, otherwise my throat could close and I won't be able to swallow, which could then bring on a panic.

I was then hooked up to a bag of Oxaliplatin (chemo drug) and a bag of Leucovorin (folic acid). The Leucovorin is used to prevent side affects as well, to increase the anti-cancer effects of the Flouoracil (5FU) chemo drug that I will have in my portable pump for 46 hours. The combination of these two drugs took two hours ... two hours of us being able to play games :)

I didn't have any side affects while this was being done, although I must admit, when she did put the IV needle into my PortaCath it felt a lot stronger than just a "prick"... but (grin), I survived :)

After those were done, I then got another bag of Calcium/Magnesium mix... and then a 20 minute shot of the Fluorouracil (5FU). This is to give me a good dose of the 5FU before the pump is hooked up. Once that was finished, the PortaCath was flushed out with saline solution and I was ready for the PortaPump.

The PortaPump is an interesting device. It comes already preset with the 5FU in a balloon in the pump, which is the size and appearance of a baby bottle. There is 243.8 ml of 5FU in the pump that has to be dispersed over 46 hours. I can wear the pump on a belt (ok, so I only own ONE belt and it is multi-coloured so is not going to go with too much in the way of a fashion statement) or in a fanny pack, or in my little Roots bag. I just have to get used to having it with me for 46 hours at a time. I have an appt. on Wednesday at 3:45pm to go back to the Agency to get unhooked from the pump this week, but then I luck out!

For all the remaining 11 chemo sessions, when the 46 hours is up and I have to be unhooked, I don't have to get to the Agency to have it done, they will set up Home Care Nursing and a nurse will come out to my apartment to do it. Yayayaya! That is one less trip I have to worry about having someone drive me there and, IF I were to have side affects, then they would probably hit on that 3rd day, so who wants to be out driving somewhere if you aren't feeling up to scruff?? BUT, as you all know, I have things to do, people to see, scrapbooks to make and books to read... I don't have time for no steenkin' side affects!! (grin).

It is now 10pm and I'm just finishing watching Dancing With The Stars. Ok, Ok, I admit... I am watching it to see how Heather Mills does with her one leg. I do NOT like this woman and find her to be completely full of herself, BUT, I do admire her 100% for just getting out there and doing what she wants to do and not letting her disability hold her back. Good on her!

As for side affects... I think I've got it real easy. I do have the headache which my tylenol/codiene doesn't appear to be touching and it is totally weird about the cold drinks! All my Crystal Light, water, milk, juice, etc is in the fridge. I LIKE my drinks cold. So having been warned, I only took a coulple of sips of cold Crystal Light... and wow... it's true!! The throat gets real sandpapery, and I know if I was to drink normally, the throat would just close up. Totally weird!! So, I let it stand out and get to room temperature and it's fine that way. Hopefully this will only last for a couple of days after each treatment.

Well, I definitely have babbled on and most entries won't be quite this long... but for those who like to read stats and for my own brain to remember what drugs I'm getting in what order, I wrote it all down here :)



Sunday, March 18, 2007

Saturday, March 17, 2007 - "Jonna's Body, please hold!"

Happy St. Paddy's Day, Bloggy!

Yes, it was St. Paddy's Day all day long and I totally forgot!! That's so not like me, so, alas, none of my friends received any St. Paddy's Day cards from me! I'll try to be more clued in for Easter (grin).

Well, getting home late last night and not getting to bed before 2am took a bit of a toll on me today (chuckle). I guess I'm not as young as I used to be!! I mean, I DO remember the days when we'd do a show, then all go out for beer and pizza until the wee hours of the morning (usually until we got kicked out of the restaurant because they wanted to close up)... and still manage to carry on with the next day with no problems. Heck, there were many a late night like this on a weeknight and I'd get up and go to work, as if going to bed at 2 or 3 or 4am was totally normal.

Anywho, I did get up at 8am, but I was pretty darn tired. Hahaha... and it didn't seem to get any better so at 11am, after accomplishing absolutely nothing other than taking the dog out for a walk in the pouring rain, I decided to lay down for a wee nap. HAHAHAHA!! Some WEE nap!! I woke up 5 hours later... at 4pm!! Yikes!! So out we went again in the pouring rain for Bridget's walkies, then I had to get ready because Greg and I were going to a benefit performance of Jonna's Body, please hold! This was a benefit for the BC Cancer Foundation that my dear friends, the Maedels (Jim and Cori) gave me tickets for. It was being held at Shaughnessy United Church over in Shaughnessy and at first, we kind of wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. The play was being done right in the church with the stage being where the altar is. There was one chair and a curtain hiding the actual altar.. with a couple of lights and tha was it for the set. Hmmmm.

But what a treat we were in for!!! The play was a one woman show performed by Jonna Tamases and is all about her personal journey with cancer. She has had three bouts of three different cancers and rather than let the disease run her life, she used the experience to put together this show and enlighten audiences all around North America.
Jonna's Body, please hold!
is a hysterical yet informative production that will make you look at this disease with a whole new eye, and even if you think you know a lot about cancer and treatments, you are bound to learn something new. What amazed me was that her show was inspiring and she is a true gift... a joy to watch and such a ray of sunlight. I am not one to gush about actors or shows. I've been around the biz so long it takes way too much to super impress me. But Jonna with her one chair and altar-hiding curtain, did exactly that. I was blown away by her performance and would love it if all my friends could see it, it was that moving! Greg felt the same way and, after living in New York and being in the business himself for over 18 years, it takes one special actor/actress to pull this off :)

After the play, Jonna came out and had a question/answer period with the audience. Even then, when she was not performing, she was a beacon of light. I could not get over how positive and happy she was. I strive to feel that love of life that she feels!

I did get to talk to her after the Q&A period and we had a very nice little chat. Part of the show she talked about how, when growing up she always had a "plan"... to party, to have fun, to get married, to start a family and to live happily ever after. Then the cancer came along and that put all her plans on hold while she fought the battle. Then the second cancer came and her plans still had to be put on hold. Then the third cancer came and she was still on hold and getting downright angry because time was passing by and she couldn't work on her "plan". She finally gave up the plan and went in the completely opposite direction. She worked for the circus, traveling around the country as a clown. She met another clown, whom she ended up marrying and now they travel together doing this show. Totally different than her original life's plan. I told her that, coming from an outsider's perspective (me), it's quite obvious that she has this incredible gift where she can share information with people, no matter how hard the message, and become an inspiration to those of us who have to go through the battle and MAYBE this was her life plan all along, she just didn't realize it. Her eyes just sparkled when I said that and she said, "Thank you... thank you for understanding because that is exactly what I came to realize much later. I AM doing what I was meant to do and I had to go through these experiences to get here. Meanwhile, I did marry my prince charming so that part of my original life plan did happen along with my new plan."

She is a total inspiration... and if anyone is in Victoria on March 24th, she will be doing the show there for the Victoria branch of the BC Cancer Foundation.


PS: Anyone who is reading these blog entries, if you want to make a comment, please do! Any comments that are written on my blog automatically get sent to me in email as well as here. Just click on the word "Comments" at the end of any of my entries. It will take you to the comments page and list anyone else's comment who has posted. On the right of the screen there will be a blank space that you can write your own comment, then click the submit button underneath your comment. It will be added to the others who have commented for that particular entry... as well, it will be sent to me in email :)

Friday, March 16th, 2007 - Oncologist Appt./The Wiz

Hi Bloggy,

Now I'm in catch up mode. It's truly amazing how the days can get ahead of one and before you know it, a few days have gone by without me giving you any updates, Bloggy. So, let's see if I can catch us up and get ready for next week.

Let's see... on Friday, I saw Dr. Sharlene Gill, my oncologist. Actually, Jo was working at the Cancer Agency today, so she managed to sneak away for a few minutes and found me in the waiting room. So we got to have a quick little visit before I was called to go in and Jo had to go back to work.

This was the visit before the chemo treatments start, so Dr. Gill went over the CAT scan which I had done the other week. She also had received the bloodwork results from this past Wednesday. The bloodwork results form the "baseline" that any future results would be compared against. She says all looks pretty good and we will go ahead with the chemo on Monday. There is some question about some lymph nodes in the upper abdomen which are somewhat enlarged. She said that we will be keeping an eye on these, although, for the life of me, I have no idea how one keeps an eye on lymph nodes. I reckon that means with future CAT scans and the bloodwork that I have to get done before each chemo treatment. I'm just going to go with the understanding that IF these nodes do have cancer in them, then once the chemo gets into the blood system, the toxins (chemo drugs are all toxins), will kill them off. If I'm wrong and it proves otherwise, well, we'll soon find out and I'll report it here on Bloggy.

Anywho... after the oncologist appt, I headed home and took Bridget for a nice long walk. She does love her walkies and if it's not raining, I like them too :D

We got home in time for me to get changed and slap some makeup on. Pat Waldron and Dawn Ewen were picking me up at 6pm and we were off to North Vancouver to Capilano College to see their production of "The Wiz". The Wiz never has taken off as a musical as some of the others, and of course, it's biggest competition has always been The Wizard of Oz. Interesting that a college would put this on and do it as a white ensemble cast, since it is written as an all black cast. I wasn't sure how they were going to pull this off, but they did! It was a fine production and some performances (Tin Man and Scarecrow, and even the Lion played by a female) were spectacular. Those three kids definitely have a career ahead of them as far as I'm concerned. Our friend, Shelley Hunt, choreographed the show and her choreography was really good. I didn't realize there were so many talented dancers in a college theatre program, but they really were good. Another friend, Kevin Michael Cripps was the musical director and he did a superb job with the music... and what a great little orchestra he had (again, musicians from the college). Overall, I give high marks to everyone involved with this production, but I think the top marks must go to the students from the "Costumes for Film and Theatre" program. They did all the costumes for the production and they were definitely top-rate! I'm so used to community theatre where we have to beg, borrow and steal costumes... but this company had costumes built from scratch and designed specifically for this show. They were fabulous!

After the show, Pat, Shelley, Dawn and myself went out for something to eat at Moxie's on Davie. It was neat to have a girls' night out! But I had no idea it was as late as it was! When Dawn and Pat dropped me off at home, it was 1:15am!! Yikes!