Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Monday, April 30th, 2007 - Chemo Session #4

Hiya Bloggy!

Me again.... same date typing entries, but different day that I'm writing about. Right now, I'm writing about Monday's adventures :) If you are reading this right now and haven't read Sunday's entry, you might want to go back and read that. Sunday was the day of the afternoon party in Paradise Valley and I've included lots of pictures. Monday's entry doesn't have any pictures :D

Naaa... today was Chemo day! As well, since I forgot to get my blood work done on Friday, I had to get up early so I could get Bridget out for her morning walkie and then get me to the Cancer Agency Lab and beg them to do my blood work so we wouldn't have to reschedule the afternoon chemo appt. They can't go ahead with the chemo treatment if they don't have the latest blood work results because the results from those tests will determine whether my immune system can handle the next chemo treatment, or whether they would have to postpone it to let the white blood cells regenerate.

Sooooo... off I went to the Cancer Clinic and lo and behold, they were soooo nice! Not only did they say of course they could do my blood work (I knew they would, I just figured I might be there all morning waiting to be squeezed in without an appt.) but they took me in right away. I didn't even get a chance to sit in the waiting room!

The blood work took all of 5 minutes from the minute I got there until I was finished! So then I went to the 4th floor to my oncologist's office because I had forgotten to tell her when I saw her last week that I was running low on my Oxycodone pills. She wasn't in because she also works at the University of BC, so her secretary said that she would get a hold of her and then call the prescription in to my drugstore...and she would call me once she had done this so I would know when it would be ready for me to pick up.

I then went in search of a "Touchless" car wash. Hahahaha... after yesterday's adventure on the dirt roads up at Paradise Valley, my Saturn Vue was FILTHY!! So I just couldn't stand looking at it in the carport looking so dirty, so I now had time to get it washed before I had to be back for the chemo appt. in the afternoon. Oh joy... it was great to get it clean again!!

Now I had time to go out for breakfast! Is this not a pampering kind of day or what??? I went to the Dutch Pannoekoek House... my favourite breakfast restaurant! There are a few of them throughout Vancouver, so I went to the one at Oak and 16th.

By this time, Steve O. had called to hunt me down. hahahaha... poor boy was hung over! He had been out the night before with friends, and went to a couple of pubs while the Hockey Game was on... then they just carried on. So I told him that if he was feeling rough, not to worry. I was out and about and could get myself back to the Cancer Agency for the chemo appt... and I had my book with me so could amuse myself during the four hours I had to be there for the chemo. Nope... Steve wouldn't hear of this... he was going to come with me whether he was hung over or not. Although he knew I could get myself to the clinic, no one knows whether one time, I could be hit with symptoms/side affects after the chemo and wouldn't be able to drive myself back. Besides... both he and Jo figure that I shouldn't have to go through the chemo on my own. Also, there are a lot of others of you friends out there who have all volunteered to drive and sit with me, so I am surrounded by you wonderful folk! Of course, Steve won out, so after I finished my late breakfast, I headed over to his condo. From there, we went to the appt.

Hahahaha... I DROVE!! And we took my car since I had it there and he said that if I did have a problem and couldn't drive home, then he would just have to learn how to drive Standard in my car on our way home (grin).

When we got there, our nurse today was Anna. She was delightful! And I think she was very intrigued by us because once she had me hooked up, we brought out our Blokus game (the strategy game with tiles and a board). She as very interested in the game and how it worked... but was cracking up at Steve and my banter back and forth. I kept reminding him that he had to let me win, after all, I was getting chemo because of my cancer, don't you know. He would say, forget it... he was suffering a lot more than I was because he was hung over. At one point, when I had to go to the bathroom, nurse Anna said that it was so nice of Steve to come and support me during the session and drive me to/from the session while he was hung over. Now that was a sign of a true friend. Hahahaha... Steve said, "Are you kidding?? I made HER drive and she will have to drive home. I'm here to play blokus and by the time we leave the hangover should be gone." Well, nurse Anna just cracked up over that!

Oooooh and here's the good news! I asked nurse Anna if she had access to the blood work that I had done a couple of hours earlier and she said yes... and that she would print me off a copy. So, here are the results -- the first numbers are my results, the numbers in brackets are what are considered a normal, healthy reading:

CBC & Differential

WBC Count (white blood cell count) 8.7 (4.0 - 11.0)
RBC Count (red blood cell count) 4.84 (3.80 - 5.20)
Hemoglobin 123 (115 - 155)
Hematocrit 0.378 (0.35 - 0.45)
MCV *78.1 (82 - 98)
RDW *18.3 (11.0 - 15.0)
Platelet Count 176 (150 - 400)
Neutrophils 5.3 (2.0 - 8.0)
Lymophocytes 2.4 (1.2 - 3.5)
Eosinophils 0.3 (0.0 - 0.2)
Alkaline Phosphatase 83 (50 - 160)
AST 15 (10 - 38)

Creatinine 60 (40 - 95)
Estimated GFR 91
(Glomerular filtrtion rate extimated from serum creatinine: subject to diet, drugs, and clinical state. Values less than 60 indicate reduced kidney function.)

Bilirubin, Total 6 (0 - 18)

So, there you have it... overall a wonderful set of results considering this was going into the 4th Chemo session. The only two that were under or over the norms was the MCV and RDW results. MCV is:

Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) - This helps diagnose a cause of an anemia. Low values suggest iron deficiency, high values suggest either deficiencies of B12 or Folate, ineffective production in the bone marrow, or recent blood loss with replacement by newer (and larger) cells from the bone marrow.

So, I figure if maybe I up some of my leafy green veggies and get a bit more iron in me, this would bring this up to normal status.

RDW is:

The red blood cell distribution width, or RDW, is a measure of the variation of red blood cell volume that is reported as part of a standard complete blood count. Usually red blood cells are a standard size. Certain disorders, however, cause a significant variation in cell size. Higher RDW values indicate greater variation in size. Normal range in human red blood cells is 11 - 15%. If anemia is observed, RDW test results are often used together with MCV results to figure out what the cause of the anemia might be. It is mainly used to differentiate between iron deficiency anemia, in which RDW is elevated, and other microcytic anemias. It may denote hereditary spherocytosis. An elevated RDW, i.e. red blood cells of unequal sizes, is known as anisocytosis.

Mathematically the RDW is calculated with the following formula:

RDW = (Standard deviation of red cell volume ÷ mean cell volume) × 100

My RDW is slightly elevated at 18%... but not high enough to indicate anemia, so I don't think this one is too much of a concern. At least, the doctors don't think so. They think my blood work is as close to perfect as it can possibly be and who would have even been able to tell that I am getting two very aggressive chemo drugs pumped into me.

So, I beez very pleased with the above :)

There you have it... I am now almost caught up in the blogster! Well, I do have to record my today's (Tuesday) blog, but I'm getting a little tired right now, so I will catch that up tomorrow (chuckle).

Ciao for now!


Sunday, April 29th - Paradise Valley

Hiya Bloggy!

Ok... I know this is a Sunday entry, but I'm actually writing it on Tuesday, May 1st. Go figure, eh?? So little time, so much happening. But, while watching American Idol and the results for Dancing With the Stars, I plan on catching up with the blog. Mind you, I am watching American Idol right now from 8-9pm, then I have to switch over to watching Dancing with the Stars on the bedroom tv because I will be taping House which is on at the same time as DWTHS :) hahahaha... now why I'm mentioning this on the Sunday blog, when the shows I'm talking about are on Tuesday night... it's all part of my multi-tasking kind of life :D

Ok... back to Sunday. Had a FABULOUS day and evening!! My friend, Dr. Dave (a veterinarian) was having his annual Spring Celebration of the Daffodils party at his place. Now his place is in Paradise Valley... about a 2 hour drive from Vancouver. For those of you who are locals, it is on the other side of Squamish... you take the Paradise Valley/Squamish exit once you get outside of Squamish and then you follow the road that winds around and eventually turns into a dirt road. Then you go over two single lane bridges and you know you are in the middle of nowhere (grin). Nowhere that is very, very beautiful!!!

Anywho... Dr. Joan (Bridget's vet) was bringing 3 others so it would have been very full and uncomfortable for 5 of us and two dogs to come in her car, so I told her that I was fine and would take Bridget and me in my own car.... and it was just fine. Besides, I had my cell phone and she would be close by... not to mention Dr. Steve (another vet friend) would be not too far behind us either.

Well, as much as I am a party animal, I'm always a little hesitant when it comes to going to a party where I don't know everyone. I knew that there would be about 20-25 people at this party and the only ones I'd know would be Joan, Dave and Steve... and I have met Phyllis, their 83 year old friend once or twice before, but highly doubtful she would remember me ;) But, what the heck... I would have my own car so if nothing else, it would be a gorgeous drive up there and I could leave at any time if I was feeling uncomfortable.

Ha! Silly me!! I had a fabulous time!!! It is, seriously, the first party I have ever gone to that was NOT a theatre party so I did not know everyone there... and yet the people at this party were all so wonderful, warm, friendly and there was no cliche groups. Lots of really down to earth, no airs, fun, warm people. I had a ball and totally enjoyed myself... not to mention, the environment was soooo pretty!! No city life here... all woods, nature, rivers and DOG FRIENDLY!!! Hahahaha... we figured there were about 20 people at any given time and about 25 dogs!! The thing that I found absolutely fascinating was, this was a large number of dogs in one place and it could have very easily turned very messy with dog fights, dog domination, big dogs dominating the small dogs, etc. But that never happened. They all got along, and played, ran and had a ball. I let Bridget off the leash when we first got there but I think she got overwhelmed with all the dogs (at that time there were only about 5 dogs) and she decided she was going to head home to Vancouver.... and proceeded to go down the long gravel driveway, completely ignoring me calling her and not looking back. When she got to the end of the driveway, which then turned into the dirt road, she wasn't sure which way to go, so that's when she looked back and realized I wasn't right behind her... I was at the top of the driveway (about a city block away). I opened my arms and she came running back. But, that made me nervouse so I put her back on the leash. I would drop it and let her wander but it made it easier to keep her under control.

Besides, she, being a goofy city girl, had no idea of the dangers of being up in the mountains and near a river. Dave's back yard ends at the river... and Bridget actually thought she'd somehow get down the cliff and check out the fast moving river!!

Ok... guess we should back up a bit. On the drive over, I was actually surprised to see that some of our local mountains still have a fair amount of snow on the tops. The scenery on the Sea-To-Sky highway is absolutely stunning, but there is nowhere to pull off to take pictures, so you are just going to have to take my word for it. Right now the whole highway is under construction as they widen it and get it ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It is probably one of the most dangerous highways in BC because it is so wind'y. You have sheer mountains on the one side of you, and sheer drops into the water on the other side, meanwhile very little straight stretches. Hehehe... I took this picture from inside the car while driving on a straight stretch as I was coming into Squamish (I believe).

Here is the dirt road I was telling you all about. The paved road turned into this dirt road. I pulled over after we had gone over the first single lane bridge. Hahaha... had to get a picture of the car on the dirt road (yes, Bridget was inside in the back seat in her little pink plaid carbed with her seatbelt on, so she wasn't about to hop out that open door). Let me tell you, after being on this dirt road getting there and then coming home... my car was FILTHY on the outside. In the two years I have had this vehicle, it has NEVER been this dirty!!! (grin)

Ok... here are some of the pictures of Dr. Dave's mountain retreat. It is sooooo peaceful and beautiful ...and rustic up there! Here is a gazebo in his backyard, overlooking the river at the end of the lawn. I just love it up here! It's hard to describe... you have the beauty of the peace and quiet of being so far from the city, and yet the strength of the river and lots of wild life around!

Here is another view of the backyard, including the Gazebo in the background. Can you just imagine waking up everyday to this rustic, lovely mountain air and environment? Dave lives up here year round, but comes into the city on the weekends where he works part time as a holistic veterinarian. So he gets the best of both worlds... city life for a visit, but peaceful, stressfree life up in this wonderful part of the world.

Here is a picture of some of the dogs playing in the backyard. It was the most amazing thing to be able to sit and watch all these dogs having so much fun with each other. Most of them had never met before so one would think there would be some territorial things going on but not a one! There was fun play barking and lots of running around and chasing each other, but no fighting or dominant behaviour. Even little Bridget, who can get quite vocal when she sees other dogs, especially if they are playing... she just took it all in, let them do their thing and she did her thing. When any of the dogs wanted to sniff her and say hello, she let them... that in itself is amazing!

Dogs, dogs, everywhere! I was in doggy heaven (grin)! Meanwhile... a little hard to see but on the left the gal in light pants and white hair is Dr. Joan. In the background, the guy in the hat is Dr. Dave. Hahaha... neither of them are facing the camera, so I will try and get some better ones put up.

Hehehe... here we have brave little 2 1/2 year old Jonah making friends with Bridget who was just the right size for him. Bridget, on the other hand, was more interested in checking out the roots of the grass up here. She LOVES eating grass roots... never gets sick, it's one of her favourite foods (grin). So Jonah and her got along great because a dog who is more interested in eating grass roots is not a threat to a 2 1/2 year old child :)

I really like this picture of Bridget. I have many that are somewhat like this, but this was her own doing. She found a quiet place on the grass, that was nice and cool and out of the way of the running, playing big dogs... but she could lie here, rest and watch the big dogs play. Every now and then she would give a little yodel to let them know she sees them, but she was quite content to let them do the running and jumping and she would just observe... totally relaxed and not stressed out at all, even though there were so many of them.

This is an adorable picture! Gigi is a little Westie who is 19 years old! She has a lot of health problems, but the little monkey was getting around just fine. This little boy, whose name slips my mind, was absolutely adorable. He was 6 years old and full of chatter! He was an interesting little guy in that he was really drawn to the smaller dogs, more so than the larger dogs. There were certainly a lot of choices from little, medium to large dogs for the kids to play with!

Ahhhhh! Here are my two little angels!! Sophie is the little 10 year old girl who I met for the first time on Sunday at the party. She is a wonderful girl and look how Bridget took to her too. Sophie is such a free spirit and we got along like a house on fire. So much so that when we left the party for the two hour drive back into town, Sophie came in the car with Bridget and I and we got to chat all the way back into town!

Here we have a great picture of Sophie, Dr. Steve and Dr. Dave... and let's not forget Sydney, Dr. Dave's gorgeous shy dog. Dr. Steve and Dr. Dave are like Sophie's godparents... both were around for her birth and have watched her grow up. Sydney was her own private horse when she was a toddler (grin). Lots of love here!!

Ok... I could probably put up a bunch more but this is already long enough as it is! So I'll end Sunday's entry here. Suffice it to say, we were planning on leaving about 6pm while it was still light out to travel home on the Sea-To-Sky highway. But just as we were getting ready to do so, some other friends arrived and said to wait it out. There was an accident where a car was going too fast and ended up going over an embankment, so traffic was stopped in both directions and the lineup was incredible! So, better to wait it out at Dave's rather than sitting in traffic on the highway. At 8pm we thought we'd chance it but turned on the radio to local traffic news and low and behold they had gotten the traffic moving until some idiots decided to jump the queue and ended up causing a 3-car pileup!! So the traffic was stopped again!! Arrrrrgh!!

So, we ended up not leaving Dave's until 10pm. It was now dark (grin). Well, the traffic was all cleared up but now they had started the night time construction on the road. So you would go from pitch dark patches of road and your eyes would be used to that and then you'd turn a bend and would be drenched in halogen floodlights. All the time you are on this wind'y road!! Hahahaha... and to top it off, young Sophie wanted to drive back into town with Bridget and I. No problem... love to have her along, but I'm not used to having a child in the car so there's this added subconcious responsibility that you drive much more carefully, or at least you are aware of driving much more carefully, because there is a child in the car. We had a lovely 2 hour drive back, with Joan, Deb and Phyllis in the car ahead.

All in all, it was a fabulous day/evening. Bridget was totally knackered... and slept like a rock that night... and all day on Monday (grin). Me, I had to get up early Monday morning because I had forgotten to get my blood work done on Friday, so wanted to get to the Cancer Agency early in the morning to make sure they could do my blood work before my afternoon chemo appt. But I will put that in the Monday Blog entry.

Ciao for now!!