Plastics Post-Op

I went to see Dr. H on Monday for my post-op. He said everything is looking very good.

He removed the upper drains (yay!), and left the lower. I have another appointment next week and those will probably come out then. They’re still putting out enough gunk to keep them around a bit longer, which is fine by me because they weren’t hurting me the way the chest drains were.

My right nipple needs to get it’s act together. It was super dark in the hospital, like almost blue-black, and it has since lightened, significantly actually, due to me applying lotion to it on the regular. Apparently that’s not uncommon. The left nipple is a little blistered, but again not unusual. That one gets some ointment. So I’d like for them to go back to normal, any day now. That’d be great. 👍🏻

The tummy incision is doing fine. There’s a spot in the center that is likely to experience necrosis. Again, not unusual. Apparently when the skin and tissue is pulled super tight like that, it’s possible that there will be an interruption to blood flow, causing some tissue to die. So basically if it dies, they’ll take care of the wound (removing nasty tissue), pack it, and just keep taking care of it until it heals. He said that whole process may be a month. But we’ll watch and see what happens because the only thing I know with certainty is that anything can happen.

I felt a slight pinch when the drain was pulled out on my right side, otherwise I honestly barely felt it. I was also still on the cycle of pain meds, so there’s that. I felt nothing on my left side. Didn’t even feel weird. Wounds were covered with a bandaid. No big deal.

Kind of bummed about the possible necrosis going on around my gut because my already slim chance of being able to hit the pool when I go to Florida just got slimmer. So boo on that, but I’m alive and cancer free, so that’s pretty cool, too.

I think that’s about it as far as updates go. I can’t think of anything that’s occurred over the last couple days that’s worthy of mentioning.

Oh, there is just one small thing.

That small little chart is of my bowel movements since being released from the hospital last Sunday. Holy medications, people! Needless to say, I’m working on softening that stool on a regular basis.

I will say one thing though. Before cancer, I prided myself on my regularity. I’d eat, poop, eat, poop, etc. Then chemo happened, and I never thought I’d see a solid crap again. Then after chemo things started to get tougher (consistency, not physical strain), but still not exactly solid. But now…things are solid. This is noteworthy stuff right here. It might not be occurring as often as we’d like, but it’s occurring!

Do I have a new belly button?

Never thought I’d ever ask that question.

There’s a nice, upside down view of my new belly button. Pardon the wrinkles on my tum from my clothes and blankets.

I knew it was a possibility with the flap that I’d have to get a new one, since the skin gets pulled so snugly together over the tummy. So my previous belly button, or B.B. 1.0, was lost in the process.

I noticed B.B. 2.0 when I was checking myself out, but wasn’t sure if it was new, or if the stitching was just part of the procedure. So I asked.

It’ll be interesting to see how real it looks once it’s healed.

Drains

I feel like the drains are a significant enough piece of post-op that they deserve their own post, even though I may have already shared some of this info.

The tubes go in at each side of my belly incision, they’re sort of fastened into place. There are also two more that go into the underside of each breast.

At the hospital, the nurses and techs were emptying them periodically, but at home I do it twice a day: am and pm. The output has to be less than 20 ccs total per day, I think, to have the drains removed. I need to check the papers to be sure. It may be 10 ccs. Regardless, I’m not at either number yet. Some do put out less than others, but the lower belly ones put out more, which apparently is normal.

I have a camisole I got from the hospital that has pockets on the inside that the drains fit into. It has a Velcro closure up the front. It’s not too bad to wear, and I like how things are properly stowed away.

That’s the inside left side of the camisole. Two bulbs fit on each side.

The liquid gunk that goes into the drains does not smell. Thank God. Because I’d die if it did. I’d be the biggest barfing baby in all the land. Brad, too.

We went to Kohl’s today so I could check out some comfy shirt dresses, and we stopped for lunch. Well, at some point one of the tubes popped off the bulb and a little oozed on my shirt. Brad was pale. I kept my cool, however, because that happened a few times while I was in the hospital. That one is just a little looser than the others. Short of them actually falling out, which seems impossible, I can’t really do anything wrong with them.

But seriously, the drains aren’t as gross or as bad as I’d imagined they would be. There is some soreness where the tubes go in, but I’m learning how to not aggravate those sites when I move.

This is an upside down view of the drain that’s on the left side (my left) of my abdomen. To the right of the white circle is the incision that stretches straight across my tummy. At the other end is another tube. This tube in the picture is the most active one out of the four. The red color of the tube is the actual color of the drainage coming out. You’re welcome.

It’s getting better every hour. No lie. I’m getting up and sitting down with little resistance from my body. I’m trying to take it easy, while continuing to get/keep my blood flowing.

I’m telling you, working my legs and abs so hard before the surgery was probably the smartest thing I could have done. I have no ab or leg soreness and I’m using the heck out of them! I’d probably be in bed a lot more if I hadn’t worked those muscles so well.

Post-Op: Part I

I made a list of the bazillion topics to cover so I don’t completely flake out the way I did with the lumpectomy. It’ll be broken down into different posts as I feel the umf to write about. I have a little burst right now, so I’m going to try to cover some stuff. It may be totally out of order from the actual series of events, but I’ll include everything I remember!

First off, everything went great. Everything looks good. All is well. So yay for that. The mastectomy and the flap took about 8.5 hours total. Unfortunately the part of the hospital Brad was waiting in was a cellular dead zone, so he didn’t get updated. He would just have random missed calls, but the phone never rang.

Pain has been moderate. I had the same nerve block as I did with the lumpectomy, at the upper shoulders, and that has begun to wear off. Pain is being managed with pain killers and I’m doing ok with all that. I also have a nerve block, still do, at the abdominal incision.

I’m also on a muscle relaxer to help with the ab, back, and chest muscle tension. Those are the areas I’m feeling it the most. And of course an anti-nausea med.

I started with an IV, which I still have but they’re not currently using it. I was getting the meds intravenously, but this morning I was able to switch to pills, which is lovely because any time the meds went through the IV, it burned!!! I was also getting IV antibiotics last night into this morning. I haven’t gotten any pill antibiotic yet today, but I may be done with that now anyway.

Since I was horizontal for so long, I had some crud in my chest, so I’ve got to use this little breathing thing to help break that up.

I have a lot of gas/bloating around my stomach area. So I’ll be passing quite a bit of gas (no surprise there!), and it will dissipate more and more each day.

I have drains: 2 for the breast area and 2 for the abdomen area. The breast area has had less liquid than the abdomen, and part of that is just due to gravity. I may go home with all 4, or I may go home with fewer. It just depends on how much is coming out.

Ok, so I’m pretty tired now! I’ll update with more later or tomorrow!

High-Five!

I’m at the oncologist at the moment, and I wish I’d brought some of the things I have to do from my to-do list! All this idle time! I’ve been updating my lists of things to do in between blood draws, meeting with the doc, and now sitting here for my infusion. I feel so organized.

Anyway, things are still looking good for me. I’m going to have to get another echocardiogram soon, so it’ll probably be planned for next week so I can get it done before surgery.

Dr YB told me to eat at least a fist-sized portion of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) every day. I was like, I’m already doing that. I eat 5 portions of veggies, 1 cup each, and one is always cruciferous because that’s what I like. (Thank you Portion Fix!) He also said he wants me exercising, heart rate up to 150, 30 minutes every day. Well, I’m doing that already, too! He said he wants me to build to 150, I told him I’ve been doing this for weeks. He hive-fived me. So yeah, I’m ahead of the game, which is exactly where I hoped to be.

I’ve had 2 appointments with the PT where I’ve done different exercises. I’ll share about that in a separate post.

Some fun stuff…over the weekend I did the autism walk in Hampton Park in downtown Charleston with my nephew. I also attended my niece’s 6th birthday party! Then we had a funeral for a Brad’s Aunt on Sunday. It was a nice weekend spent with lots of friends and family.

At the birthday party was our friend, James, who was diagnosed with colon cancer several months before I was diagnosed. He’s had chemo and surgery, and is starting chemo again because it’s starting to come back. He’s in good spirits, like me, and it was actually really cool talking to (commiserating with) someone I know well, and who is going through something similar. We have a similar sense of humor, which only people going to through cancer or who are close to someone going through cancer understand. It tends to freak people out when we joke or laugh about stuff, but when you deal with the variety of BS cancer brings to the table, you have to joke and laugh. Some people get that and some people don’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anyway, I’m trying to wrap up a bunch of things before surgery…tie up lots of loose ends! Wednesday is our 10 year wedding anniversary, and we’re going out of town for the weekend to a concert in Charlotte. I’m looking forward to the break before the surgery!!

And here’s a cute baby goose butt before I go. My view at the oncologist.

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Super cute siblings!

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I’ve Lost 6.8 lbs in One Week Doing 21 Day Fix®!

Yep, you read that right. I’ve lost 6.8lbs (and a couple inches) in my first week of 21 Day Fix®.

What is it? I’m so glad you asked! 21 Day Fix® is a foolproof nutrition and exercise plan by Beachbody®!

You all know how important food is to me. I love to eat. I love tasty food and I enjoy variety. I don’t like being told what to eat, and I don’t do well with restrictions. This blog has been live for just a few short months and I think I’ve communicated my passion for food quite well in that time. Why is this important? Because I wouldn’t choose a food plan that didn’t allow me to still be passionate about food. That’s how awesome Portion Fix is.

Here is a ridiculously simple summary: A quick calculation determined how many of each colored cup I get each day. The colored cups represent different food groups or food types (for example, seeds and dressings go in the orange cup). I plan out my meals so that you use ALL my cups. Voila!

Now, I said this wasn’t restrictive…and it’s not. But there are some limitations. I should eat the healthiest options for each category. For example, the yellow cup is the carb cup; on the yellow list is brown rice and whole grain pasta, but not white rice or regular pasta. Moral of this story…I can still eat pasta, and I have.

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This is a super easy plan to follow, and honestly, after only a few days I started to feel very comfortable. It does take planning and preparation, so I needed to have some patience for that. But it’s not hard. It’s not hard at all, and I’ve had so much support.

I said I was eating a lot of food, and I am. Each day, I have 5 servings of vegetables, 3 servings of fruit, 5 servings of protein, 4 servings of carbs, and a few condiments. I can use garlic, lemon juice, and spices freely. Portion Fix has recipes and other participants share theirs, or you can keep it simple and create your own. For lunch, I do a meat, a carb, and a veggie. Nice and simple since I’m on the go a lot at lunchtime.

Here are some of my prepped lunches. This week I planned ground beef with some seasonings we picked up at the the Flowertown Festival, and salsa chicken in the slow cooker. We made brown rice and quinoa. We also did frozen veggies, steamed in the bag in the microwave, then briefly sauteed in olive oil and garlic on the stove.

I made some seasonings, salad dressings, and even cookies using Portion Fix recipes. They’ve all been delicious.

I seriously felt like I was eating too much. It was a lot of food. But when I threw it all into the My Fitness Pal app, the calories were low! They were exactly in the recommended range. It’s because I’m eating more of the healthier, filling foods, and less of the foods that don’t fill me up, but instead make me crave more food.

I’m also using Shakeology®, which is a superfood shake powder you can mix in with just about anything. If you mix it with fruit, you deduct it from your allowance. Add a veggie? Deduct that, too. I often make mine with a serving of spinach, a serving of blueberries, a teaspoon of natural peanut butter, cinnamon, and water. It’s delicious. Since I’m lactose intolerant, I do the Vanilla Vegan flavor, so I don’t have to worry about taking a pill every time I have a shake.

Speaking of lactose intolerance…there’s very little dairy in Portion Fix. You can have it, but it’s easy enough for me to avoid. And what makes this plan great is that it’s clean eating…you’re not eating processed foods so you know exactly what goes into everything you are eating. If you have a food allergy or an intolerance, you know whether or not you’re eating something you shouldn’t.

My biggest woe before starting this program was that eating healthy was going to be expensive. The lie detector has determined that is a lie! Lean ground beef? It costs the same as it would if I bought it for hamburger helper. Frozen veggies? I bought bags upon bags of generic stuff from Walmart for 77 cents each (and they taste the same as the brand names). Brown rice? A bag is a couple bucks. It’s not expensive to buy raw, unprocessed foods. Processed foods actually cost more.

Of course there is also the exercise component. The package I signed up for got me access to Beachbody® on Demand. It’s online access to all Beachbody® exercise programs, that includes some of the more popular programs like P90X and Insanity. I chose 21 Day Fix because I pretty much need a 21 Day Fix given my surgery. But if I get bored or want to try something a little more intense, there are tons for me to choose from, including some dance ones. I totally can’t dance though, so it would be interesting.

So the exercise plan for 21 Day Fix gives you a different workout to do every day. Monday is Total Body Cardio, Tuesday is Upper Fix, etc. You don’t have a rest day. Sunday is yoga, so it’s more of a chill day than the other days, but it’s still an intense workout. My legs burned after day one. They were SORE on day two. I thought they’d fall off when I had to do the Lower Fix (legs) on day three, but they just sort of went numb and all was well again. Ha. Seriously, intense workouts considering they are only 30 minutes each.

So a new nutrition plan, exercise…my gains so far in this program aren’t just related to the scale. I also feel a thousand times better overall. I have become more regular, which has been a pretty decent issue for me since chemo started back in September. I have better endurance. I want to get up and do stuff. I also feel good mentally. I’m happy to be doing something and seeing results. It makes me feel good.

Anyway, this entire post probably sounds like an advertisement. It’s not really. It is a testimonial though. It’s me sharing my success because I’m so excited to have found success and I feel like I need to share it because I want anyone else who wants to be successful to find theirs, too. I signed up to be a coach, I just didn’t want to promote it until I could be proof that it works. And now I am. Proof, that is.

If you want to talk to me more about the program, or other programs Beachbody® offers, please reach out. I want to help. I’ll tell you exactly how I signed up, what I signed up for, and I’ll tell you all about the awesome group of women I’m part of…women from all walks of life who are in this to succeed and be healthy, women who have been so motivating to me. Or, if you’d rather just kind of check things out, I’ve included my Coach web links below. I know I have some followers here outside of the US, so I’m including links to my Coach page for Canada and the UK. Or, if you’re totally not interested, that’s OK! I don’t expect everyone to be on the same journey, and that’s perfectly fine. BUT, just know that Portion Fix isn’t only about losing weight. You can use the program to gain or maintain as well. It’s about eating healthy, really. So feel free to ask me about it, or click one of the links below to check things out. 🙂

My US Coach Site.
My Canada Coach Site.
My UK Coach Site.

I promise this blog isn’t going to turn into a place for me to grow my business. However, it is eventually going to transition to something else (I actually have a plan I’ll unveil soon) since my cancer journey will eventually be over. My health and wellness will definitely be part of my journey. It’s something I should have made a priority a very long time ago.

So I’ve got the oncologist tomorrow. Should be uneventful, just my Herceptin injection. Next week will be the evil arm shot. I’ll post an update if something exciting happens.

Roy, Road Trip, and Snow!

This is gonna be one of those “real” TMI posts, or at least part of it will be, when I tell you about Roy.

Roy is my hemorrhoid.

Yep.

Because why the heck not?

Most people get them because they’re constipated or they strain. Not me. I get it from the diarrhea.

He’s a little…?$&@!

So, over New Years, Brad and I went to Florida with his family. They own a time share in Kissimmee and I’ve been going with them for years. Anyway, we usually do summer, but have made the occasional winter trip.

Lemme tell you, this will probably be the last winter trip! Don’t get me wrong, time with the family was great and we had a good time. But it was just one of those “nothing is working out” types of trips.

First, traffic going down. Not fun. Brad and I left the night before because we were going to have to leave early to head home because he had work. We had a hotel voucher that was going to expire, so we decided to use it so we can start our day earlier in Kissimmee. Traffic leaving SC to enter GA sucked. Traffic on I4 around Orlando sucked. Trafffffffic succccccckkkkeed. We drove to Jacksonville Friday night and then to Kissimmee Saturday morning. (The hotel in Jacksonville was awesome, though!) His family left SC on Saturday and it took them all day to get to FL, no lie. Traffic was awful, again.

Next, it was cold. Not the usual January in Florida cold either, where it was tolerable in the day and a little less tolerable at night. It was cold, windy, and rainy. We wanted to do stuff outside but couldn’t. It didn’t help that I was trying to avoid the elements to avoid getting sick. With the exception of maybe 2 of our 5 days there, I stayed inside in my PJs and comfy clothes. It was cold. Cold.

The entire trip was such a contrast to what we usually experienced when we go there. We payed bingo and trivia, went to the bar (I had Shirley Temples, thank you very much), the guys golfed, we played games…it was still fun, but there were no long days by the pool, walking around doing nothing, nights at the bar…it was lacking because it was just so cold and dreary and dark. It seemed overcast and dark the entire time. I can’t wait for our next summer visit, because that’ll be fun.

Now let me segue back to Roy. Florida is when I discovered Roy. I think the multiple hours sitting in the car on the way down helped him make his presence known. So once I discovered what I was dealing with, we (we as in Brad) got Preparation H, and I’m pretty much good to go. Roy is quite literally a pain in the ass, but he’s fairly decent as far as hemorrhoids go. (Don’t ever Google hemorrhoids, just don’t do it. If you think you have one, just accept it and get the butt cream. Don’t look it up.) He’s of a very small and tame variety, and I’ll leave it at that.

Snow. I did mention snow in the title of this post. It’s something I’m quite familiar with, having spent 20 years in New York, however it’s something I’ve grown accustomed to not having to deal with the last 15 years. (For the record, it took me a really REALLY long time to do that math. I know I moved to SC when I was 20, but since I’m 36 – yes, I had a birthday last month, Happy Birthday to me 🎂 🎈- I thought I’d been here in SC for 16 years. Not the case since I came here in 2002. 15.5 to be exact. Anyway…….)

We left Florida on Wednesday to return home to SC. Wednesday was the day SC was expecting a few inches of snow. A. Few. Inches. Of. Snow. I don’t know about you, but when I hear “few” I think 3, maybe 4. Anything more than that is “several.” Right? I swear, the only job where you can be wrong like 80% of the time and not get fired: meteorology. Granted, the weather is a difficult, difficult thing to predict. Anyway, Summerville got 7 inches of snow that day. Not so bad in comparison to what I grew up with. What wasn’t really considered was the ice. Everything kept freezing and melting and melting and freezing, over and over and over again. The Charleston area was pretty much closed down from Wednesday through the weekend. Some schools didn’t return until Tuesday, extending winter break by another week. It’s not that state weather emergency people are obtuse, it’s that the state is not equipped to deal with this kind of weather since it snows maybe once every 5-10 years, and is usually just a dusting. I kind of feel like something more could have been done on the highways, though, particularly I95.

So let’s talk about that trip home, shall we? We left Kissimmee at 7:00am on Wednesday. ETA was somewhere in the early afternoon, maybe 2:00? I can’t remember. Started out ok, made it out of Florida in decent time. There was some rain that slowed us down, but we weren’t expecting the wintry mix until Georgia.

Traffic started about 3/4 of the way through Georgia, when the snow started to accumulate.

It was pretty to look at.

Then we sat in traffic FOREVER trying to get into SC. Anyone who has gone north on 95 from Florida knows that when the lanes go from 3 to 2 at the GA/SC line, it’s a mess. A mess!! Add snow.

So we stopped to use the bathroom and grab a bite to eat, then continued to sit in not moving traffic.

Then we’re in SC, and for a moment, traffic parts and we see a rare sight…SCDOT plows! Note that the plows are not actually touching the roadway…

Note the surface of I95 at that point. That photo was taken near Ridgeland at about 4:00pm. It was still snowing and about to get dark. We were probably driving 25-30 mph, if that. Why? Well, because we were in a rear wheel drive V8 vehicle and anytime you hit the gas, the back end went sideways.

Enter night, and that snowy, packed down road surface turned to ice. No lie. We slid everywhere. Even going less than 5 mph in the nearly dead stop traffic. Even stopped in place. I swear the vibrations of the car alone had us sliding off the road. We weren’t the only ones having the issue, though it is the south so most people were in trucks and SUVs, or front wheel/all wheel drive vehicles.

The only way we could get traction was to ride partially in the shoulder where we could get a grip the powdery snow that hadn’t been packed down. But that only worked so much since some people were pulled over in the shoulder because no one wanted to drive in that crap! We spent about an hour within a mile of our exit, partly stuck in the shoulder, partly stuck in traffic, and partly trying to decide if we just wanted to park and walk.

So we got off in Walterboro around 6:00 pm. We were about 45 minutes from home, but decided we’d stay at a hotel because if the highway was that bad, we just knew the road home would be worse. And the hotels off the exit had no vacancies. Yay! So we said to heck with it, we would just keep going, make it to my parents to get Daisy and stay there overnight. We drove down 17a at 20 mph the entire way, with two wheels in the shoulder and every muscle clenched. We went sideways once on Highway 61, after moving back into the road after letting an emergency vehicle pass. We also only hit one curb while riding the shoulder. We finally made it to my parents house at 8:30 that night. We didn’t leave for 2 days. We couldn’t.

Brad wanted to sell his car and get a truck or something built for all weather. I talked him off the ledge. It’s not like this happens often, and we do have an SUV, we just decided to take the newer car on vacation to FLORIDA where we shouldn’t have to deal with winter weather.

So yeah…that was our snowpocalypse/snowmaggedon drama. Of course neither of us had boots or a winter jacket with us since we packed for Florida, so once we settled down, we couldn’t even go out and enjoy the snow. I’m so glad it’s over and we made it home without crashing! That was just an absolute mess.

Echo and Ultrasound Update 

I had another echocardiogram and ultrasound yesterday. It was my six week follow up for each.

Echo was good. Heart was squeezing just fine and there was no extra fluid. The tech was great, as usual, and they had a new bed in there. It was comfy. Process was the same as the last. My blood pressure was randomly low, but it seemed to be a fluke. 

Ultrasound was great! JP was barely detectable, and that’s just after two treatments! 

I met with Dr JB’s Physician’s Assistant (PA), M. We talked a little about surgery options. I will still need to have some kind of surgery after the chemo is complete because, while the mass may shrink to nothingness, some tissue will still be left and it can grow back. So, at the very least, they need to remove the remnants through a lumpectomy.

If I have a lumpectomy, it’s still highly likely that the cancer will return, so I’ll need to be monitored through frequent mammograms and MRIs…pretty much forever. 

Another option is mastectomy, which is the full removal of the breast tissue, single or double. With single, the other side will still have to be watched. Double, the chances of recurrence are drastically reduced. Also, with mastectomy comes reconstruction, which can/would be done at the same time, and can be done using belly fat rather than implant materials. 

There would also be some node removal, somewhere in there. I’ll have more info on that at my next appointment in November, when I meet with Dr JB and the plastic surgeon for a consult. 

Some of this will depend on what the genetic testing says, too, so I’m not in a hurry to make a decision. I need more facts. But honestly, I’m leaning towards whatever will significantly reduce my future cancer risk, because I would love to not have to go through chemo again. That would be great! That’s sort of my guiding light at this point.

Anyway, I’m still hanging out in bed. I’ve been up for a while, reducing my phone battery to 55% from all the playing I’ve been doing for the last few hours. I feel good, it’s been a great week! Of course I’ve still had some moderate diarrhea, but at least it wasn’t like the lava of last week (thank you, liquid Pepto!). 

My new favorite gif, by the way…

If you haven’t seen bridesmaids, it’s worth it for Melissa McCarthy. 

Anyway, I’m just getting myself hyped up to clean and make some sliders for the football game today. 

Go Cocks!

Have an awesome weekend!

Hello darkness my old friend…

Let me start by saying I’m using that lyric in reference to the original song, not the remake. Mmmkay?

So yeah, it’s that part of the cycle again.

I feel cruddy. My body is sore, my throat is a little sore and tight, my head hurts, I’m tired, etc. Waa waa waa. I don’t want to read or write, so I’m just laying in my bed and occasionally listening to books on tape. I’m bored, but don’t really have enough strength or brain power to do anything productive, which sucks because there’s a lot I could be doing for school and around the house. I finally reconciled my bank account yesterday after about a week, that was fun. I hate falling behind.

I’m hungry, and so far I’ve been able to eat. I get nauseated, but that’s what the Zofran is for. I learned what I could tolerate last cycle, so we stocked up this time. I had Campbell’s chicken and dumpling soup yesterday, the kind in the plastic microwaveable bowl, and it was wonderful. Today I had oatmeal, this time the fruit and cream variety, not the plain cardboard type. It was good. Then I had macaroni and cheese for lunch – a Kraft microwaveable bowl. Not all the healthiest of selections, I know, but I’m managing with what I can. I had a sandwich yesterday with meat, veggies and avocados, so my system seems to be allowing some variety, I just don’t always have the umf to make it fresh. I can also tolerate water better this time around, more so than the Crystal Light that was my saving grace last time. It’s so weird how things flip and flop like that.

Things that are particularly annoying: sounds. Phone ringing, door bell, text tones, dog barking, etc. It’s making me quite irritable, which I’m sure is just pleasant given all my charming characteristics as of late.

Brad has been a real trooper. He’s always been super tolerant of me, but he should get an award after this, even though he’d deny deserving it. “Can you get me this?” “Never mind, not this, that.” “I realize you worked all week and weekend, but I want popsicles.” “I left my puzzle book in the other room.” “Has Daisy been outside?” “I want a popsicle, but a good flavor.” His personal assistant job description does include criteria about mind reading, FYI. And he does it all without whining about it AND giving me compliments, which I’m not so sure I’d manage if the roles were reversed. I’m tired from doing nothing, so I’m sure he’s exhausted.

So kudos to the cancer spouses, caregivers, parents, children, siblings, etc. Your job is hard, too. Really hard.

What else is new? Well, the diarrhea is back. That started around 1:00am last night and continued every couple hours throughout the night. It stopped around 11:00am, I think. Then happened once again since, but it at least seems to have slowed down. I’m taking in fluids and took Pepto, so hopefully we’re on the upside of that, though after last cycle it’s anybody’s guess. I’m doing my best to stay horizontal and not jostle anything.

I mentioned nausea…that’s been pretty persistent, and I wonder if it’s because I’m eating more and trying to be a little more active? The medicine helps, so I can’t complain, but it’s definitely more present this cycle than last.

My tastes haven’t completely become shot just yet, and I’ve been able to taste what I eat, but I do have that horrible taste in my mouth. Yuck. I need some peppermints, the red and white ones, you know? Those seem to help. (*cough*Brad*cough*) The blue and green ones are too close to mouthwash right now, and my gag reflex is ready!

Daisy has had enough of my boring self. She keeps looking at me and sighing these big huffy sighs. Like, “Come on, ma. Get up. Watch me roll on the floor. Watch me chew my foot. Watch me scratch.” She’s just not used to me being home and doesn’t know what to do with herself, or me.

Whoa is her.

But anyway, I’m on the flip side! I should be feeling pretty good by the weekend, so I’m looking forward.

Tomorrow I have labs, so we’ll see how I’m doing, and maybe if I’m feeling like garbage I’ll get some fluids while I’m there. Next Friday, the 27th, I have my six week echocardiogram to see how my heart is doing with all the poison. Then, after that, I’ll have an ultrasound of JP to see what’s happening there.

I think I’m going to crawl out of bed and get a popsicle. 🙃

Second Chemo Cycle

So this was a tad bit different than the first. Of course, I had the port, so it was easy access. It was much cooler having everything go through my chest than my arm, I could flail all I wanted and no tubes were disrupted…not that I flailed. Who me??

Started with vitals and blood. Everything was good. Everything is doing its job. Score! I talked with the doc and he was pleased with everything. Asked me about the mass, and I admitted it was less apparent than it had been in the beginning. He said, “Yeah! And that’s only after one round.”

So yeah, JP is less apparent. He’s still there. But he’s not as firm and close to the surface as he was, at least he doesn’t feel that way. It’s so hard to tell through all the fluffy tissue, but there’s absolutely a change.

Also, there was a lady there getting chemo today. She was across the room so we didn’t chat, but I overheard her saying that this was her last round, and on her last ultrasound the doctor couldn’t even find the mass! I don’t know what type of cancer she has (or had?!), but how awesome is that? That’s exactly what I want to happen. It would be an epically awesome Christmas present. My next ultrasound is scheduled for October 27th, the same day as my next echocardiogram. Then my next chemo cycle will be that following Monday. 

Back to today. I was there from about 8:30 until 2:00. It was much shorter since there wasn’t a loading dose and they shorten the administration of some of the drugs since I showed tolerance to them the last time. Maybe tolerance isn’t the right word, maybe it’s durability? Ha! I don’t know, but basically I didn’t have any reactions or immediate side effects, so instead of administering the dose over an hour, they did thirty minutes or forty-five. That was nice!

This was post-Benadryl, so I was pretty loopy, but remembered I needed a pic!

To access the port, they clean the area with alcohol, then there’s a little scrub brush with some cleaner, it kind of looks like one or those sponges on the end of a tube that you fill with soap to clean inside glasses? Anyway, they do that. Now, approximately thirty minutes before my appointment, I put some lidocaine cream on the site to numb it a little bit. Yeah…I still felt the initial prick. I mean, it’s a needle going through some decently thick skin, into the port. It stung a teensy bit. I have a decent pain tolerance though, I think it comes from having a nurse mother who wouldn’t cut us any slack unless we were severely bleeding or broken, like, say…we swing into a table and break our collar bone, fall off a ladder, slam a finger shutting a window, or slice the tip of a finger off in a meat slicer. Not that any of those things have ever happened before, they’re just very specific examples. *ahem* Growing up, just about everything could be treated with ice, bacitracin, or gargling salt water. However, if I watch the insertion of a needle into my skin, it’s probably game over. I’ll probably face plant. Same with a tube filling with my blood. Yep, I’d rather not!! 

So all in all, that part was pretty easy. I thought I’d feel differently during the chemo since the port goes to my jugular, which goes directly to my heart, but nada. I might have felt tired from the Benadryl quicker, like almost instantly, but that’s about it. Oh, and the metallic taste from the saline flush, that was pretty instant, too. But nothing adverse, nothing strong. 

I was solo today. My dad dropped me off in the AM and both ‘rents picked me up in the afternoon because Brad had to work. My sister-in-law, Michele, brought me lunch! She was seriously the hero of the day…because food…and my dad did give me a mini bag of Chips Ahoy and peanut M&Ms. I ate the cookies for a morning snack. Yummy. I occupied myself well and the time seriously flew by! I read for a little bit, a fun book by R.S. Grey, The Foxe and the Hound. I did some crossword puzzles, and decided I need more puzzle books! Chemo really effs with your head, so I’ve read that games and stuff that engage your mind and keep you thinking are good for you. I play the heck out of Sporcle trivia on my phone, too. I tried to write a little, but by the time I started, I had about twenty minutes before the Benadryl drip started and it was pretty much game over for my attention span. So I shut down my computer, and resumed my crossword puzzles. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was enough to occupy me from beginning to end! I probably spaced out a bit, too. Not gonna lie. Ha.


So here’s an interesting side effect/reaction I had. It goes to show just how toxic the chemo can be. It popped up right before my port surgery last week. If you remember from an earlier image, a little to the upper right of the scab on my arm in that image is where my first chemo went in. That stuff is rough on veins, kind of makes more sense why they want to use stronger veins to administer it. So the reaction doesn’t hurt and there’s no numbness or bad feelings.  It itched a little, but I’m not sure if it actually itched or if I was psychosomatically inclined to itch it because it was there. I don’t even know if that makes sense on paper, but it does in my head. And the scab was a little blister. So they checked it today and it’ll heal and fade, and I obviously shouldn’t use that vein for anything in the meantime to give it time to recover. 

And because I couldn’t not share this pic. Why is my dog so weird? It’s like she can’t gather the strength to hold her head up, so she’s resting on her nose. Either that or something smells really good inside the couch. Somehow, I think it’s the former and not the latter. 

So that was my day! Missed two sessions today, and fortunately class was canceled so I didn’t have to miss that, too. But I’ll be working tomorrow, and I’ll do my Neulasta shot at 3:30, missing only one session.

Oh! And if anyone knows of any good, reputable, work from home gigs that are on the freelance side, let me know! Due to treatment and getting sick, I am missing some work (I’m an independent contractor all around, no work = no money!), so I’d love to pick something up to try to make up some of the difference in income, but I’d need to have some flexibility. I have signed up with UpWork, just haven’t checked in routinely enough to snag any good gigs, but I will. 

Until next time! Maybe I’ll show off my wigs and more hats. 😉😘