Still one drain…story of my life.

I had two drains removed yesterday, the ones in my chest, which is great because they were sore and itchy and nobody liked them. Ha. Seriously, though. I was so aware of those two. I kind of figured the belly one would stay, so I’m not surprised. I’m not even that annoyed about it, except this whole shower thing, but I’m about to bust out some plastic wrap so I can shower. Not even kidding. Shh, don’t tell.

I’ve had a BM since I last posted. I know that makes you as happy as it makes me. I’ve slowed down on my water drinking and I know that’s part of my problem, so I’ll pick that back up. Also, the anti-nausea meds can cause constipation and since I’m not taking oxycodone anymore, I’m not taking the anti-nausea meds anymore. I’m also getting a little annoyed that constipation isn’t coming up on the predictive text on my iPhone and I have to spell it out every time. It’s a long word, Apple, get with the program.

I’m working my way into my new food plan, and healthy eating is making me feel good. Yay! Should regulate some stuff as well. This time I’m doing something a little different, which I’ll talk about later, just to give it a try. So far I love it, and we’ll see if I have results. I also can’t wait to get this drain pulled so I can exercise, but for now it’s walking!!

That’s all the update I’ve got for today, so I’ll share more when I’ve got more. 💜

More fluid…

This week, Dr. H took out about 80 CCs combined from both sides. Good news, it’s less than last time! Bad news, there’s still fluid. Not much we can do but wait. Wait and wait and wait some more. There’s nothing I’m doing or not doing, it’s literally a waiting game at this point.

He said everything else looks good, so that’s good. I’m still hopeful that we’ll be on target for my final surgery in September. My outer breast tissue/skin just needs to finish healing. It’s getting there.

I’ve been on a movie kick lately. I watched Thor: Dark World and The Longest Ride and The Best of Me, all through Amazon Prime. I’ve also read a couple Karina Halle books. I’ve been busy with appointments and work, so I’m just enjoying these quiet and brainless moments.

Ohh, but I’m not sure if I mentioned my wonderful day on Friday and I just have to! For those of you who don’t know, I work with kids who are on the Autism spectrum. I am a Registered Behavior Technician, and I do ABA therapy (applied behavior analysis). So I work with kids and have several therapy sessions each week. On Fridays over the summer, the company has arranged group social events for the kids who have full-day availability on Fridays, and whose parents sign them up. One of the stops for our Friday social was The Little Gym, and it was amazing! The kids had such a fantastic time, it made my heart smile. Seeing them in their element like that, it was just the absolute best. I just had to share.

Little oncologist update: I had my Lupron shot Monday. My arm is still a little sore. Waa. I didn’t see Dr. YB, I only see him on infusion day, so I didn’t get to give him an update on the symptoms I was whining about last week, but I’ll share here. I have only had one hot flash episode, and it wasn’t really a hot flash, it was like it wanted to be a hot flash but couldn’t quite get there. And it lasted a while…it kept me awake. Annoying. But other than that, the drugs seem to be working. Yay!

I get asked occasionally if I mind if people share my blog with their friends or family, and I don’t mind at all. Please feel free to share this with anyone who may want to read it. I know there’s not much going on here lately (thank God!), but some of the past posts may be of value to someone.

Day Full of Docs

It’ll be nice when all this slows down. I have a doctor’s appointment every week, and it’s frustrating .

When I was leaving my first appointment of the day and trying to schedule a future appointment, it was hard to accommodate the time because of work. I may be able to adjust or abbreviate my sessions, but I don’t want to do that because it creates a domino effect. I cut one short by 30 minutes, then I have to add 30 minutes somewhere else. I cancel one, I have to make it up another day. So the easiest thing to do is to schedule the doc around work.

I was drained again by Dr H, about 45 on each side. The right side had more this time than last time. I’m probably going to have to get drained again next week, blah blah blah. Next week I’ll go to his office in Mt. Pleasant, instead of the office he shares with Dr JB on Monday mornings, which is fine. It works out well with my schedule that way.

I went to the oncologist next for my infusion. I’m on cycle X of 17. Almost finished! Then we’ll talk about where to go from here as far as prevention and future treatments. I asked Dr YB about my hot flashes, issues falling asleep, and my feet.

Yep, you read that right. My feet. Why? Well because they have been so incredibly achey since around January! I guess it could have been going on for longer, but I was so inactive prior to that due to the chemo, and I was feeling so many other things, that I might not have even noticed it was an issue, or just blamed it on my inactivity. Anyway, once I’m walking, they’re fine, but it’s after I’ve been laying or sitting or driving and I get up and try to walk that they ache and hurt. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to mention it, and see what he advises.

Dr YB wrote me a prescription for oxybutynin, which is actually a bladder medicine but works for hot flashes. One of those random off-label uses for drugs. I also got a refill for my letrozole. As for my feet, he recommended trying Aleve for 5 days to see if that helps. He said that with my hormones being messed with, it’s possible that’s why I’ve been having trouble falling asleep, so he said to give it some time and see how it goes. My nurse also suggested no caffeine after noon. I don’t have a lot of caffeine as it is, just the occasional sweet tea (since the soda I drink is caffeine free – but I rarely drink soda anyway).

So we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks until I’m due for my next infusion!

Is it hot in here?

Yowza! The last two weeks, the hot flashes episodes were off the charts. I even checked my temperature one night just to make sure I wasn’t overlooking a fever. They’re like how they were when I was going through chemo.

During the first few cycles of the Lupron, the hot flashes were just that…flashes. I’d blink and then they were gone. I thought they were a piece of cake. Ha. Hahahaha.

I should have known better. Nothing about life with C was easy, why should anything after C be easy?

I have an appointment with Dr YB tomorrow, so I’ll talk hot “flash” management with him then. That and sleep. I’ve had a heck of a time falling asleep this last week, which I don’t believe is related to the hot flashes since they don’t necessarily occur together. I forget what number my infusion cycle is tomorrow, but I know it’s close to the end. I want to say I have one or two more after this.

I also have an appointment with Dr H tomorrow. I’ll get drained again. I know this because I can tell there’s extra juice in my abdomen. Yay.

I’m restarting my clean eating tomorrow, and exercise, I’m looking forward to fueling my body with stuff that’s good for me again. I felt so good, physically, when I was eating clean before the surgery, and I wish I could have kept up with it post-surgery, but my appetite was just so off that I felt like I needed to just eat what I could.

Also, I’m creating a team and registering for the local Komen Race for the Cure. I’ll post the details here once I’ve got it all together, in case anyone is interested in joining or supporting the efforts. It’ll be Saturday, September 22.

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!

Random Additions

There are a few random things I thought of that I’m not sure if I ever shared…when I started this blog I vowed to myself to include it all so that maybe one day it might be helpful to someone looking for a real account of what breast cancer was like for someone.

Fingernails – I did not lose my fingernails or toenails. My oncologist said it was a possibility; it was one of the things he brought up while I was super-focused on food. Anyway, I didn’t lose them (although I think I am about to lose the toenail off my big toe), but I did have weak spots that have just grown out. They were deep ridges in my nail that started at the cuticle and as the nail grew, eventually moved their way up, and promptly broke when they reached the tip. They’ve all reached their breaking point, so my nails are currently a mess.

I think the toenail thing is mostly unrelated to treatment. My toenails have been totally fine and haven’t had that same ridge in them like the fingernails. I ended up with a black and blue spot on the side of my toenail. I can’t remember bumping it or anything, but I can’t remember much so I can’t discount it. I still have some neuropathy in my toes, so I could have easily not felt whatever hit it, if something hit it. Anyway, today there was a little blood along the edge, so I think the nail is going to come off. I think my exercising is aggravating it, being on the tips of my toes for planks and whatnot. I’ll keep you posted on The Toenail Saga. You’re welcome.

I Gotta Pee – Another (thankfully short-lived) effect was having to pee the moment I thought about having to pee. Let me explain…(again, you’re welcome)…there were times near the end of chemo where if I felt the urge to pee and thought about it too much before I made it to the bathroom, I would nearly pee myself. Totally random, I know. I’m happy to say that’s no longer a problem.

Chemo Brain – I still have chemo brain. It’s not as bad as it was, but I’m still a little spacey here and there, and have trouble focusing and recalling information. I haven’t gotten very specific about what chemo brain affects, so I’ll do my best here. My long-term memory seems pretty unaffected, but I have trouble recalling more recent things. For example, it may take me some time to recall what happened yesterday, but I have no trouble recalling something that happened two years ago. The ability to concentrate is kind of related to staying in the moment. Like I’ll be reading a book, and just zone out. It was really bad during chemo and made classwork super hard. I’d read the text book and, not only have a hard time focusing, but also forget what I’d read.

So those are a few things I don’t think I delved into previously. If I think of anything else, I’ll add it.

Oncologist Update

I had my regularly scheduled appointment with my oncologist earlier this week and forgot to post an update. I guess it’s a good thing I’m keeping busy enough to forget to post…or a bad thing that I can’t remember to do it? Ha, regardless…here it goes.

As far as the oncologist goes, I left off with Dr. YB wanting to check my hormone levels and possibly start me on a shot. So Monday was a follow up to that. My hormone levels indicated that I’m already post menopausal, so that’s cool. The shot, Lupron, is a hormone therapy. I’ll be getting it for two years. After the two years is up, I’ll start Tamoxifen, which is another hormone therapy. Apparently the Lupron has better results on people my age as it completely shuts down the ovaries, versus just blocking the estrogen receptors. In another week, I’ll start a Femara pill, which will complement the Lupron.

Side effects: hot flashes. I had the shot about a week ago and I haven’t had any major hot flashes. Hot flashes were a big thing for me during chemo, so maybe I’ve gotten used to them. I don’t know. I was doing a work thing today and the woman I was with said it was chilly in the room we were in and I was warm. I’ve always ran sort of cold, so maybe I’m just on a permanent temperature change now.

So the shot could have gone in my butt cheek, but fortunately it was a small enough dose that it went in my arm. But man, it was sore! The shot itself didn’t hurt. I barely felt it, but it achhhhhhhed afterwards. But only when I moved my arm in a certain way…so naturally I kept moving my arm in that certain way to make sure it still hurt or something?

The downside of this shot is that it’s on a four week cycle, so while I’m finishing up my cycles of Herceptin, I’ll be hitting the oncologist two weeks in a row occasionally. Like April 9th and April 16th. At least the shot days will be brief.

I’ll update some more if anything changes! On another note, because we all know how much I just love talking about bowels, I’m still not quite regular. It’s very frustrating and I’d really like to have some normal BMs one day! Ugh.

Another Update

My apologies! I usually write my posts from my phone while I’m waiting somewhere for something, like in a waiting room or in the car when I arrive somewhere early. I’ve been on the go so much lately that I haven’t had any downtime like that to share an update from my Monday appointments, so here it goes:

I had my appointment with Dr JB and Dr H last Monday morning. Everything looks good as far as healing goes. We did not schedule the surgery yet, but agreed it would be early May, after mine and Brad’s 10 year anniversary (!!!!!).

I went to the appointment with a short list of ailments, ones I wasn’t sure were a result of the surgery, chemo, or life. Let’s face it, it’s been a while since I’ve felt normal! The list included neuropathy in toes, tenderness and irritation where stitches were still poking out (more on this later), swelling in legs, muscle soreness, and joint aches.

Most of this was related to chemo, or rather the end of chemo, but Dr JB recommended using ointment on the incisions, and she was concerned about the swelling. She referred me out for an ultrasound/Doppler of my legs to check for blood clots. She also said the soreness and aches were probably a result of going from being inactive to active, and that I should just push through it, which is basically what I’ve been doing.

The other thing we talked about was my weight (yay!). She’d like me to lose about 10-20 lbs before the mastectomy because it’ll be better for my healing and I’ll have better cosmetic results, too. So I’ve been working on that and I’ll share more about what I’ve been doing in another post.

I’ll see both of them again April 26th.

I took a break for lunch and talked to the scheduler at Dr JB’s office and scheduled the ultrasound for 3:00.

Then I went to see Dr YB. My bone scan turned out fine. He still wants to do the shot he talked about last time that he feels will have a better long term prognosis than the pill, Tamoxifen. In order to do what it does to battle the cancer, it shuts down ovary production. I thought my ovary production was already shut down since I haven’t had a cycle since September, but apparently not. Dr YB said that’s actually a result of the chemo. I never asked, I just assumed it was the Herceptin causing that since the Herceptin is the hormone treatment, and I associate hormones with periods, but whatever. So they’re checking some hormone levels and we’ll probably start the shot at my next appointment, the 19th.

So I had my treatment, then I was off to the ultrasound. I ended up late because I didn’t leave the oncologist until 3:00, so I got there at 3:30. For the ultrasound, they do the three main veins in the leg (the names of which I cannot remember, but you can Google it if it interests you, or someone can leave it in a comment if they know). Having that goop on my legs was absolutely nasty feeling. I did apologize to the tech for the fuzz on my legs. Still haven’t shaved since September, still nervous to shave now because of the potential for ingrown hairs from the ones that never quite fell out. It’s a wait and see game right now. Fortunately, it’s still jeans weather and the fuzz isn’t obviously long, so I can afford to wait and see. Anyway, no blood clots. Yay!

I ended up leaving the hospital around 5:00, so I missed my Monday class, which sucked considering nothing ended up being wrong with me. I’m lucky my teachers are understanding.

In other news, one of the classes I did an incomplete in, Objective Assessments, I’ll be able to do in the fall, essentially from scratch, which is awesome! Such a relief to not have to worry about that right now. And I’m glad I can retake the class because I don’t remember much about how to administer the tests and stuff.

So I’ll chat more about weight loss and the perfectly timed delivery of Girl Scout cookies later!

🍪 🍪🍪

Chemo & Weight Loss

I think a lot of people associate chemotherapy with weight loss, or cancer with weight loss, I know I did. For me, it was because I’d known someone or seen someone with cancer or going through chemo who had lost weight. I think I applied that experience across the board, which is one of the reasons I was so concerned about being able to eat in the beginning.

So, one thing I’ve learned and talked about is how chemo and cancer are not a one-size-fits-all experience. There’re different kinds of cancer, different kinds of chemo, and different kinds of people.

The last few days I’ve been dealing with swollen ankles and feet. It’s been annoying. I think it’s because I was horizontal for so long, and taking things slow, and now I feel good and am being more physical, staying on my feet for longer periods of time, sitting upright…so gravity is doing what it does and pulling fluid down to my feet. Once I put my feet up, it dissipates.

Anyway, the swollen ankles have made me think about how I didn’t lose weight with cancer and chemo. I did lose 10 lbs the first week of the first cycle because of the taste/texture issues I was having. Once I took the nausea meds and found ways around those taste/texture issues, I gained that weight right back and didn’t lose anything again. I may have even gained weight, but I’ve only ever been weighed on the doctors’ scales through all this, and I swear those things are on a whole different frequency.

So yeah…I could stand to lose a few pounds, and now that I’m well, I’ll definitely be heading to the gym. But I don’t want to lose too much weight in my mid-section, because they need that fat to refill my chest after the mastectomy! Pretty cool deal. 😉

Fun fact: there’s a Billy Joel channel on Sirius XM…30…I’ve often prided myself in being able to name Billy Joel songs within the first few notes. Turns out I can name them before they even get played, too! He was talking about the story behind the song and I guessed the title, and I was right!

This weekend Brad and I trekked to Baltimore, MD for a book signing. I had a great time seeing my sisters and book friends (Hi Jennifer!), making new friends, and going to the movies. We’re actually driving home as we speak. It’ll be nice to be home! I’m sure Daisy missed us (not!).

That’s all for now!!

Hey there

Sorry it’s been a few minutes since I’ve updated. I really haven’t had much to say.

I did see my oncologist the same day as the surgeon. He sent me for a bone density scan, or a dexa scan. The reason for this is because he’s considering a shot or a pill to battle out that little bit of cancer that stayed behind. He guessed that what didn’t go away was estrogen fueled, and my treatment was geared a little more towards progesterone. Or something like that…it’s been a little while and I don’t quite remember now. Anyway, because the add-on treatment would be more hormone stuff, he wanted to check my bone density.

So that wasn’t a difficult scan. I went to the same place I went for my mammogram. I laid on a table, they scanned my hip area and lower spine. There was something shaped almost like an arm that arced partway over the table, and that’s what scanned me. I’ll know those results at my appointment on the 26th.

My only side effect of the Herceptin this cycle was hot flashes. I hate them so much, but it was lovely not having to deal with anything else, and to be feeling progressively better day by day. I swear I’ve been making up for the flavor/texture challenges by eating anything and everything. Ha…not much change there. I did have a couple days of heartburn, but that was probably a result of my wonderful diet, not my treatment. I haven’t taken medication in a long, long time!!

I feel…dare I say it…normal!

Seriously, aside from my leg muscles being so sore from lack of use and my feet being swollen, I feel great! It’s wonderful.

I’ve been to both of my classes two weeks in a row. I don’t think I’ve done that since September! I’ve been working, too. I subbed a couple sessions with some great kiddos today, and I’ve been doing some contracted/as needed office work for an old boss, too. I finally feel like I’m contributing again (or will be once I get paid), and it feels nice! It’s also nice to feel like I have a little bit more purpose.

Things are kind of quiet over here, so I won’t bore you. You’ll probably hear from me next on the 26th, after my next appointments, unless something exciting happens between now and then.

Oh! I’ve got peach fuzz on my head! 😁 I wonder what my hair will be like when it grows back…