shaved head

shaved head
Channelling GI Jane

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 14: Round 4 Chemo...Halloween

Happy Halloween! Physically I'm feeling good. I am tired and worn out most days. I can't even imagine working out next week although I need to. Shaving my head again helped. My hair is growing in thicker and is filling in all around my head. I'm not sleeping through the night. I wake up every hour and roll over, but I don't know why. SNoring is still a problem. I think I will see an ENT I found who specializes in snoring. Tuesday is my big meeting with the oncology surgeon. I'm hoping she can tell me the differences between my two CT scans in detail. I can't believe this nightmare is actually coming to an end. Thank God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 10: Round 4 Chemo...Appt With the Plastic Surgeon

OMG! I love my plastic surgeon. Dr. Tiffany Grunwald has the nicest bed-side manner and her work is beautiful. I am definately a candidate for tummy tuck (use my leftovers to make breasts), otherwise known as an abdominal DIEP procedure. She recons I have enough belly fat for two size B-C cup breasts. That made me feel good because I was afraid I may have enough gut to fill in my old sized breasts (DDD). I am not a candidate for nipple saving. It's a long story, but it has to do with the fact that the distance between where they are (somewhere near my belly button) and where they will be (high up on my ribcage like a 19 year-old) is too great. Appearantly they are very fragile and the matter of blood flow is an issue. Anyways, I will have reconstructed nipples and tattooed ariolas. How does one reconstruct a nipple? I now know. Imagine if you will a napkin laying flat. Put a small round object in the center and pull up the napkin sides around the object and tie the gathered napkin in a bow. The fringe on top of the bow is formed into a small mound and voila, a nipple. And believe it or not the tattooed ariolas are shaded and colors are mixed to create a 3D effect. It is very creative and looks very natural.

Now, given that I am not at my optimal weight for reconstructive surgery (I would have liked to drop another 20 pounds) I was given the option of a 2 step surgery process. A small breast surgery right away and the tummy tuck whenever I was ready. I have decided to do it all in one surgery. If I lose weight after the surgery I can always touch it up later with a little lipo. The surgery will take about 12 hours. The plastic surgeon begins with the tummy stuff while the oncology surgeon removes my breasts. The oncology sugeon will take about 4 hours an the rest of the time is the plastic surgeon's work. I will stay in ICU for 2 days while they watch me for blood clots in the arteries leading from my chest to the ones that were harvested from by belly to supply my new breast tissue (from my belly) with blood. I will then stay an aditional 2-3 days in the hospital, a atotal of 4-5 days in the hospital. I am then faced with a hardcore 3 month recovery period. But now is the time for it, it's not like I have a job. The funniet part of this surgery is that my tattoo on my bikini line is precisely the strip of skin harvested to cover the hole left by my areola. So my tattoo will be removed from my bikini line and moved to my areola! However, it will be erased in the process of giving me new areolas. I can't wait to meet the oncology surgeon. That appointment is next Tues.

My oncologist left a message that my scan looked good. I meet with him next Wed. to hear how much the tumor has shrunk. Good news. Today was a happy day.:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 9: Round 4 Chemo...2nd CT Scan

I'm home from the spa where I had a second CT scan of my torso. My oncologist wants to compare the first scan before chemo to this one after 4 rounds. I am radioactive until tomorow morning so Erich has to pick up the boys and bring them home. I will stay in my bedroom once the kids come home so I extremely limit the radioactivity that they are exposed to. I tell the kids I'm like Spider Man when they ask why they can't come close to me. They think that is funny. I'm slowly feeling better, except for my stomach, and feel more energetic. Tomorrow is my first meeting with the plastic surgeon. I am so nervous. So much rides on this appt. I know I am being incredibly vain, but I feel I've earned it. The surgeon I have chosen is excellent and she will do a great job of removing my breasts. But the pastic has to reconsruct my entire torso and make me into a goddess!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 8: Round 4 and Pissed Off

Today finds me in a really pissy mood. I can't stand to look at myself anymore. I don't know who the person in the mirror is anymore. I am puffy and round and bald and I lost a chunk of my eyebrow. FUCK! I meet with the plastic surgeon on Wed. and I feel like I've waited years for this consult and now I'm forced to undergo these surgeries at my fattest and bloatedness. WHat will that mean to my surgery? And I still don't feel normal a week later. I hurt. I'm done with this chemo round shit. ANd what the fuck, husband? He just fell to pieces this round. He was no help to me or the kids. I'm pissed that his baggage is interfereing in this process now. That's why I always say, deal with your issues. Waiting just makes it suck more for the person and all of those around. This round I could see it taking its toll on my boys. Frederich wouldn't come near me during my worst days and Evan wanted to sit on top of me and rub my hand. It broke my heart and I have been dreaming about the boys being kidnapped and hurt since. Erich suggested that he take the boys camping during my worst days next round and I think that is a great solution. He will have to be present for them if he's alone. My last round he will be out of town for the weekend and that may also be best. I'm just having a bad day. I don't have them often, but when I do watch out! Underneath all this attitude is a woman very thankful for the love and support of her friends and family.:)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 7: Round 4 Chemo

Yesterday ended with a movie marathon on the couch. God bless Netflix instant view on my new TV. Erich and I watched 3 movies in a row. My bones ached last night. The back of my head, My neck and lower back bones felt like some one hit me with a sledge hammer. They still ache this morning. I slept in fits and starts. Every hour I woke up to pee and when I came back to bed I was plagued with a racing heart and a super strong heart beat that felt like a bass drum. I laid in bed and slowed my breathing until I fell asleep. I'll ask my doctor about that. Also, I had the craziest, vivid dreams. They came to me like movies and were filled with anxiety, conflict, and running. I had 3 last night. The first was a dream that Erich and I were preparing for the BIG California quake by stocking our travel trailer with goods and parking it at Eileen's building. Somehow it ended with her mom and dad leading me through the tranformation into some Scottish super-powered mystical diety. Crazy stuff. Normally I would chalk a dream like that up to taking my Cymbalta too late at night, but I forgot to take it yesterday. The boys are still at my in-laws and Erich and I continue to relax in the quiet of our home. I woke up with the desire to wite this morning, after so many vivid dreams. I have an idea for a story, a kind of super-heroine tale of a woman who is "changed" after chemo. A sort of "Chemo Girl" if you will...:)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 6: Round 4 Chemo...Out From the Haze

It is Saturday morning 5:45am and I just sprung out of bed to make coffee and spend some time on the computer. The chemo haze lasted much longer this time because my steroids were cut down. I have been sitting or laying on my arse since Wednesday. It feels good to have some energy. I went down hard on Thursday late afternoon and all day yesterday. My mother was again a great help. She cooked for me and the family. She ran out to the Mexican market to get ingredients to make me a torta with papas fritas and pan dulce when I asked for it. And she massaged my aching body all day. Oh thank God round 4 is over! I'm so glad there are only 6 rounds in total because I'm not sure how many more I could take. I do not look forward to the next 2 rounds, I loathe them. But I am lookig forwaard to this weekend. The kids are spending the night with my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law and my neice, so I will spend a little alone time with Erich, who seems to need a little nurturing himself.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 4: Round 4 Chemo

Fell asleep at 8pm last night. No sleeping pill. Woke up starting at 1am every hour until 7am when I got up to help Erich get out the door. Managed to make myself eggs and toast because I was really hungry. Fell asleep again and woke up at 10:30am. I was hungry again so I made pancakes. I have a little bit of energy, enough to stumble through the house and take care of my needs. I'm sleepy, but I'm able to stay awake between naps. Mouth soreness has started as well as body aches. I will rest on the couch today. My mom will be here this late afternoon. Craving cheese, bread, and sweets.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 3: Round 4 Chemo

Fell asleep at 7:30pm last night. Slept well. Snored so loudly that poor Erich was relegated to the couch. I woke up this morning at 7am feeling very weak. Erich tokk the kids to school and had to pick them up as well. I managed to get out and shop at Costco for a few itwms and it just about killed me. I have been on the couch all day watching TV or playing on the computer. No pain, no symptoms, just weakness and light-headedness. Tomorrow my mom comes to stay until Saturday. I must feel less energy due to less steroid and perhaps build up of chemo sessions. Who knows.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 1: Round 4 Chemo

Yeah, round 4 complete. Although the hard part has yet to begin. Spoke to NP about hair growth serum (Nioxin or Rogaine) and Latisse for my eyelashes and eyebrows. She suggested I give my hair a chance on its own and if it isn't growing in nicely in 3-6 months then I could try those medications. I'm already looking ahead to hotness. I feel fine. The oral medication, Mesna, I now take to coat my bladder tastes like hair dye. It's awful, but it does the job. Tomorrow my gal, Stacey, will join me at the spa for my hydration and Neulasta shot just in case I need a ride home. These meds are beginning to affect my head more. That's all for now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day Before Chemo Round 4

Holy crow! Round 4 is almost here. I slept in til 9am this morning. I took my steroid, my glutamine, and I'm forcing down 12 cups of water, which I have not been doing for 2 weeks. I'm packing my chemo bag and getting the house ready for chemo week. Damn! I do not want to do this, but I know when it's over I'm another step closer to the end. It's like the flinch before a shot in the arm. I've grown to hate and resent this process, so it's time to think about the positive side. #2 on my list of chemo pro's: I have more energy than I have had in 15 years (with exception to the 5 days I'm in bed sleeping). #1 on my con list: My sense of smell and taste has weakend, whcih should mean that I eat less because I can't taste so well. Instead I find myself craving Cheetos and other extremely salty and sweet foods. So much for the chemo diet.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day: Friday Before Chemo Round 4

Feeling great. Can you tell? I haven't been writing. I've lost count of what day it is. I've been remiss in drinking my water and taking my glutamine, so I may pay this round. I will start today. I'm going to start keeping a list of things on my person that chemo has changed; for better and for worse. #1- for the better: It has erased a horrible malady I have sufferred from for 15 years or more on my hands. The doctors would tell me I had dishydrosis (whatever that means) and that there was no cure and no thoughts as to the cause. One doctor eleborated a bit more and told me that the sweat glands in my hands did not work corectly. So, how would chemo change that? It pulls out all the moisture in the body. Hmmmm. Anyways, for the first time in many years I have beautifully smooth hands. I just cry when I look at them. Even Erich remarked, "Oh honey, they are so soft," and he just held my hand. I pray this fix lasts forever.

I finally found some books to pull me away from reading Sookie Stackhouse for the 10th time. I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula and The Bible (old testament) & Rashi's Daughter. I'm into them. I'm glad to have the distraction for I am beginning to feel anxious about chemo on Monday. That feeling of anticipation; wanting it to come so it is under your belt, but also fear of the pain and the horrible side effects. This last round came and went very quickly it feels and I can't believe I'm facing it again. But, then round 4 will be under my belt. My second CT scan will be at the end of the month and I will be happy to hear some real stats on my tumor. Will also consult with plastic reconstructive surgeon that week. I will rest a little easier after meeting with her. I have never liked the appearance of my breasts and how wonderful if she gave me a new pair that I loved! Never in a million years did I think I would be considering saving my old nipples vs. manufactured ones, and using belly fat vs. silicon implants, etc. What a crazy fucked up time! Although the chemo diet was yet another I have failed :) I am happy that I continue to stay very strong (and maintain my weight going in). Everyone is extremely pleased with how well I have come through this (my doctor and nurses). I'm not sure I have an idea yet as to how chemo has changed my life, but I'm sure it will come to me, maybe as I'm healing. My children are getting restless and I wonder if they too are anxious anticipating Monday's chemo. They act out like wild animals, of course they have been known to do that before the cancer. We try to be patient and show them even more love when they act up, but some days I've been known to threaten to put them on the curb with a "for sale" sign on them. I don't have much patience some days. We are off to the pumkin patch today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day "I've lost count" Round 3 Chemo

I haven't written in a long time. Finally feeling better and I don't want to think about next Monday when I start this all over again. Met with my oncologist and he is just pleased as punch that I am going through this process so well. My tumor has definately shrunk. I have another CT scan of my entire torso on Oct. 26th. He will then compare this current scan with the one he took before I started chemo. After much research and contemplation I have made an appointment with an oncology surgeon in Santa Monica for Nov. 2, her name is Dr. Alice Chung and she comes highly recommended. AND she takes insurance, which believe it or not, not all surgeons do. The 2 highest rated surgeons at Cedar Sinai do not take insurance. I also found a lovely woman plastic reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Tiffany Grunwald, in Santa MOnica, whom I have a consult with at the end of Oct. She also takes my insurance which pretty much made my head swoon. No one takes insurance anymore for plastic surgery.  I am so pleased with my choices so far. The end is near! I can't believe how quickly time goes by. My kids have proven to be so resiliant. They are amazing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 7: Chemo Round 3

My mother came to stay with us Sunday, Monday, spent the night, and stayed with me Tuesday as well. She helped get the kids to bed and she helped Erich get them off to school. During the days she cooked for me, made sure I drank water, drew hot baths for me, washed my hair, and spent the day massaging my feet, legs, and back. While I slept she did my laundry, she pulled the boys' beds apart and washed everything including the mattress. She even pulled everything out of my very large, very deep, and extremely scary hall cupboard; made me sort through it, throw excess away, and re-organized it so that we could actually see what we had stored in there. By Tuesday I feeling the need to be alone, but I forced myself to stay in the "mothered" moment. It is really hard for me to allow myself to be mothered. In my memory, I wasn't mothered and/or did the mothering. I always say that situations occur for a reason. My mother was a house on fire while she was here. Her presence made me, my kids, and Erich feel more at ease. It was so important for her to mother me and my family, and it was just as important for me to be mothered. Life's lessons always sneaking up to nip you in the ass. Oddly enough, cancer is teaching me about life.:)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 6: Round 3 Chemo

Night 4 went very well. I knocked myself out and slept through the night without any pain. Day 5, yesterday, was a little rough. I slept all day, only waking up to eat. I cycled through chills and hot flashes, crazy dreams, and hallucinations. Because I slept all day I didn't drink all 12 cups of water. I will work on that today. But at 4am this morning I felt the malaise lift. Normally I would of popped out of bed and come into the living room, but I though Erich was on the couch. So, I stayed in bed until 6am when the alarms went off and popped out of bed with everyone else. It always amazes me how I go from incoherent coma to back on my feet in about 36 hours time. Alrighty, now I can really say round 3 is behind me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 4: Round 3 Chemo

I woke up with boobs on my mind. I have been researching breast reconstruction all morning on the internet. Every survivor you meet loves their doctors and want to show you their "boobies." So the referrals are beginning to pour in. It's difficult to process all this information. For me this is perhaps the most important part of the process. I have never liked my breasts. I have always dreamed of reducing and reshaping them since I was a girl. And then there is the mother told me the other day that one of the top guys in Santa Monica charges 50K and does not take insurance! Holy crow.

I'm feeling about as unattaractive as possible these days. My hair continues to grow longer in soft feather-like plumes, but not en mass over my entire head. The steroids have made my already round face even rounder and I am retaining water even though I drink 12 glasses of water a day. My rings don't fit, my clothes are tight, and my scale shows weight gain of 6 pounds. This sucks!

On the other hand, I am now half way through chemo and that is cause for celebration! Only 3 more rounds to go. The Mesna my doctor gave me for bladder pain seems to be working. The very large doses of Ibuprophen for these few days also seem to help, however, the real test comes tonight. My plan for tonight is Ativan, ibuprophen, Uristat, heating pad, and anything else I can think of. Ativan has become my best friend for sleepless nights I just hope it holds up through the painful one. I have faith it will.:)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 3: Round 3 Chemo

This morning three of my girlfriends came to visit and bring my family food and me a few little gifts. Again I feel surrounded by so much love. I slept well and woke up at 6am. Spent the morning puttering around feeling a little amped, but by the time my girlfriends left I was feeling tired. Took a nap. I'm on my way down now I can feel my head getting heavy and foggy, and my stomach getting heavy and full. Tomorrow and Monday will be tough, but I'm armed with even more meds and drugs this time. Half way point. Half way point. I can do this.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 2: Round 3 Chemo...Half Way Mark

Spent the day at the spa yesterday. The nurses maeveled at how cute my port had become after 3 weeks of healing and reduced swelling. It's still the "alien" to me and my peeps. I read my book, I read trashy mags, I watched a little TV, and I even closed my eyes for a little while. Erich and the boys came up for a look around. I showed the boys the waiting room, the lab, the radiology area, and lastly the chemo room. I didn't take them long to notice the reclining chairs and indiviual TV's. They smiled and agreed that it looked like a nice place to get my medicine. Then my family left for a day at the La Brea Tarpits.

Our vacay in Yosemite was breathtakingly fun. I didn't take too many long hikes; my legs have lost much strength and I was tiring easy. Got overly excited The night before we left at the Willy Nelson concert and had a beer-paid for it dearly. So, again no drinking til I'm done. On another note, I am so touched that my girlfriends; Noele and Eileen will be running in different "raise-money-for-breast/ovarian-cancer" runs. Noele has raised money and enticed some of our other Sassies to join her this Sat., Oct. 2, in Long Beach. I'm so profoundly moved by the support I feel from all my families and friends. As I write this morning, I am wrapped in love and comfort in the most plush full-length robe sent to me by my Aunt's, ex-husband's current wife. As crazy as that may sound it's all love now. Forgiveness is the key to life.

This round I opted to take Ativan (one of my anti-nausea meds) for sleep because the steroids wake me up in the middle of the night for 3 days. Let me tell you, Ativan is a little slice of heaven! And I thought I was a good sleeper already. Whoa! Little side effect...They knock me out so hard that the first night I had an accident and wet the bed. You can imagine my family's surprise when I stripped the bed next morning. Erich wanted to know which kid had an accident and I had to tell him it was me! NO worries...a pair of adult diapers last night and I once again slept like a baby til 5am.

At 10:30 I have my second trip to the spa for more fluids and that damn Neulasta shot. This round I'm packin mega amount of Ibuprophen for pain, Ativan to sleep ( and a night-night- chonie), a 55' TV with Netflix streamed movies, and medical edibles for the next 3 days. BRING IT ON! I have 3 girlfriends bringing my family food and my mommy comin to stay with me. What more does a girl need? I thank God for my life.