Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Two Day Blog...

I started this part of the blog  yesterday...didn't get done with it after the MRI as I had originally planned...oops.

Nov 12, 2010

Tom is getting some major dental work done today.  They pulled out one of his teeth years and years ago and our current dentist thinks it would be good for him to have a bridge over that gap.  Today they make a temporary and send off a mold of the temporary to make the real one.  (Not sure if we have this process correct but that is what Tom thinks they are going to be doing.)  That is going to take the dentist and his crew about 4 hours to do.  Then Tom runs home and grabs me to go get my MRI done.  Really looking forward to that (NOT).  Luckily, they will be giving me some happy juice so that I don't care that I feel like I'm in a coffin while they are doing the MRI.  The headaches haven't been as bad with this chemo treatment but I am still having the double vision off and on.  Maybe they can get to the bottom of all that with the MRI.

Nov 13, 2010...Day after the MRI...

Ativan is your friend.  8-) 

We got to the Cancer Center yesterday and waited for about 45 minutes to get called back to get the MRI done.  When I got back there, they gave me a shot of ativan to help me with my claustrophobia.  NICE STUFF.  They could have chopped off my head instead of doing an MRI and I really wouldn't have cared.  I asked her in my wonderful slurred speech how the pictures came out.  She said, "I got some really good pictures."  I asked her, "Can't you tell me more than that?  She said " need to talk to your doctor."  I told her I had to try anyway...

Today is a quiet day and it is nice to have Tom home for company.  I'm not supposed to go out in the world this weekend since I'm in 'Nadir' but I am thinking of making a Sam's run anyway later today.  I've finished my morning computer stuff, done the treadmill and need to make lunch but after that it's pretty much wide open.

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Today I have been thinking about spouses (or any caretaker) of cancer patients.

I have moaned and groaned in this blog about what I go through but equally important is the side of the coin that a cancer patient's caretaker is on.

Tom has watched me go through two surgeries, the recovery from those surgeries (believe it or not, the port installation was the worst to recover from), the tears, the frustrations, the confusion and through it all he has been amazing.  Now, I won't say he hasn't lost patience with me.  HA!  I would test the patience of Job when I am in my mean chemo drunk stage.  But, somehow, he has come out of the other side of this first chemotherapy still loving me.  8-)  That is amazing.

My view of the person who supports is that they have to understand that while THEY think the cancer patient should have some control over their frustrations and emotions, they really do and they really don't.  They don't before they get a handle on it all but they should (to some degree) after they get a better handle on it.  It has taken Tom and I four chemo treatments to get this down to an art.  We've made it look easy this time around but it took much restraint on both our parts to get through this without the usual emotional upheaval.  We are like feeders off of each other.  One has a reaction and the other reacts to the reaction.

One thing to keep in mind (on my blog) about the Taxotere treatments is that I took the heavy dose of Taxotere treatments every three weeks instead of the light dose every week.  This caused more extreme effects than the other way would have but I felt that I would have more good days than bad this way.  Neither my husband nor I could take off so much time from work to get the treatments every week.  There were a lot of factors that made me choose this way. 

Here is a list of items that the caretaker (or the cancer patient) should do to make the treatments easier (I'm certainly not saying they will be easy but this will ease some of the pain and frustration):

1. When I start feeling out of control and about to say something mean to Tom, I move to another area of the house.  Or maybe the caretaker should move.  You can do it either way but they can't read your mind so it will probably be you that should move BEFORE you say anything.  (OH, and good luck with that...sometimes, it seems like I won't feel better until I say it.  That is the mean chemo drunk in me.  I have found that there is really a not so nice side to me that kind of embarrasses me.)  I probably saved 5 or 6 arguments by doing this after the 4th chemo treatment.

2.  When I start feeling depressed and like I'm going to cry at the drop of a hat, I watch something on TV that would normally make me laugh really hard.  We chose to watch  "Everybody Loves Raymond" during my normally severe depression time.  I did find that I didn't laugh as much at it as I would have off of chemo but I wasn't sitting around crying either.  Big improvement.

3.  The caretaker should give massages in areas where cancer patient hurts.  Wow.  If I had known this during the first treatment, it probably would have saved a lot of heartache (and body aches).  Now that he is massaging my shoulders to get the kinks out of them, I am not as grouchy or depressed.  I had tried all kinds of heat and ice and used the tens unit to get the pain to go away but all it really takes is him massaging me for maybe 5 minutes and I'm good to go.  I also think this is good for the caretaker because now they feel that they are doing something that actually makes the cancer persons life better.  There is nothing as bad as feeling helpless when someone you love is in pain.

4.  Start a blog!  This blog has been a great outlet for me vent, cry, laugh, and just hear general support comments from my family (which tells me that I am not alone out here).

5. Take all the recommended medications to relieve the effects of the chemo before the effects hit you.  This isn't the time to be tough and just 'weather through' the chemo treatment ill effects.  Take the nausea medicine, take the laxatives, take the pain medicines (if they are prescribed), take the sleeping pills.  Whatever is offered to get you through this poison...TAKE IT.  Like my doctor told me when I asked for help sleeping..."You  have breast cancer, you can have ANY drugs you want."  Cool, huh?

6.  The caretaker should help as much as possible to keep the house clean smelling.  Chemo causes the cancer patient to have an enhanced sense of smell.  For me...since I already had a very enhanced sense of smell this has been extremely annoying.  Suffice it to say, ALL smells are captured during chemo.  Things that smelled good before chemo could smell bad after chemo which is why they suggest you don't use fabric softener or fragrance filled laundry detergent.  I always make sure that right before my chemo treatment that I clean the house extremely well so that there won't be any odors to annoy me.

7.  Try to do nice things for your caretaker when you are feeling able to do so.  It is important that they still feel loved and cared for too!  I try to make sure that I do a majority of the house cleaning myself so he doesn't feel like he goes to work and then comes home and works all the time.  He needs down time as much or maybe even more than I do.  (We let the cleaning people go when I started staying home all the time because I didn't feel like dealing with anyone else in the house when I am here and there wasn't any reason I couldn't do my own house cleaning right now.  No one does it as good as I do anyway (Except maybe Tom)...HA)

8.  Laugh at yourself.  God gave us a sense of humor for a reason.  When you're crying...sit there and think how ridiculous this emotion is and how much you have to be thankful for.  Yeah, that one isn't easy but it sure did get me through a lot of rough times.  Sometimes, I'd just go to the mirror and look at my little bald head and get a good laugh.

9.  Speaking of bald heads...don't let it get to you.  Your hair is gonna grow back in.  Of course, I had this irrational fear that it wouldn't at one point, but the doctor has assured me that it does.  8-)  Paranoia can really take over during chemo.

10.  If you don't have them, get an electric blanket, long johns, and something to cover your head when you sleep prior to your first treatment.  Hot and cold 'core' body temperatures are extreme when you start going through your treatments.  When your red cells drop, you're going to be cold a lot (about 5-7 days after the treatment).  As your estrogen is depleted (and it will be totally) then you get those wonderful hot flashes that cause you to throw the covers off of you and want to rip off all your clothes.  Dress in layers...even in bed.  You're gonna be putting it on and taking it off all day and night.  lol  Tom and I laugh a lot about this.

11.  Revel....Stand in AWE of the good days.  You and your caretaker will have them...I promise.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meditating? Maybe...

Yesterday was just a blur. 

Work was busy and exhausting, so I decided to shut my little eyes at 4 and get some rest.

The phone rang almost as soon as I shut them.  Ugh.  I look at the caller isn't a number I know but something in the back of my mind told me I should answer it.

As it turned out, it was the Boeing Wellness group with my phone call addressing my stress levels.  OH yeah. I remembered after they told me so I worked on losing the 'annoyed' tone in my voice. 

She asked me what I was doing currently to relieve my stress and I told her about the blog and she got all excited because that was one of the things on her list that she was supposed to suggest to me. 

Another thing on her list was gardening. (Yeah...that's not gonna happen.) 

She ran through the list of things like, watching movies (do that), walking (do that), support system of friends and family (do that) and then she brought up meditation.  I tried to picture myself sitting in the 'lotus position' and going 'hmmm' several times a day.  Wow...I couldn't really see me sitting still for several times a day and doing anything that equates to doing NOTHING.  Even watching TV is interrupted frequently for whatever reason pops into my head while doing so.  But, I had to give her something for her trouble of calling so I said, "Sure...I'll try the meditation thing."  (I could tell she was feeling a little discouraged that she couldn't find anything new for me to do and I didn't want to be a difficult customer.)

She is leading me to the website where it is located and all of a sudden I feel someone grabbing my head.  I screamed VERY LOUDLY because there wasn't supposed to someone in the house.  All of a sudden I realized that the person grabbing my head was also kissing the top of it and it was Tom, who had just gotten home from work.  The poor woman on the phone (as I'm profusely apologizing) says, "Someone is a little jumpy, huh?"  Well, DUH.  I lost track of time and NOBODY was supposed to be in the house. 

Anyway, after I got off the phone, I tried one of the meditation directions.  It kept making me yawn out of pure boredom.  Of course, I guess if you're bored, you can't be stressed too much, huh?  I made it through the first sixty seconds...I might listen to a couple of minutes sometime today if I can find the time.  8-)  I am supposed to give her feedback on it next time we talk....ugh.

(For anyone that is interested in meditating, the website is 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving Right Along

I went into this chemo treatment with a brand new mindset.  I decided I was going to stay as 'positive' and upbeat as I possibly could during the first few days so that maybe it would lessen the spousal abuse that comes from the treatments. 

This worked to a great degree, I'd have to ask my husband to get the real story, I would guess. (Since this is only my perspective which may be a little skewed.  HA!)

Of course, this is the last of the taxotere treatments so that may have something to do with my ability to fight off the depression and frustration that comes with each treatment.  I was talking to my sister this morning and she said that her husband (who has also been battling cancer for several years) would make the statement to the effect of "Why is everyone else so annoying when I am on chemo?" which explains EXACTLY how I feel during the first few days after treatment.  It is like everyone looks for the last nerve that I have left and they take a sledgehammer to it.  LOL  We don't think it is us...we think EVERYONE ELSE is the problem.  It really is funny after it is over and you look back at it but not so much when you're going through it.  Probably not so funny, even after it is over, to the spouses.  :-}

I was having the usual neck pain yesterday that has tormented me since the beginning of chemo.  Yeah, this wasn't anyone being a pain in the was real neck pain.  I told my husband that I could see why people will pay $60 for a massage while they are going through chemo.  He said he would give me one for free so we proceeded back to the bedroom so I could lay down and he could try to relieve my pain.  WOW...what a difference.  It took my grumpiness totally away.  So, every couple of hours, he would massage my shoulders to give me relief.  I tried to tell him that he needed to stay home from work today and just give me massages all day.  (This is the first relief I've had from neck pain in months.)  But, alas, he had to go into work and I will just be waiting here like a drug addict to get my massage when he gets home....LOL.

Another thing that is a bit of work, because of the chemo, is laundry.  I have to wash all our clothes separately because if I wash them together then he could end up with my chemo on his clothes which would transfer to his body when he wears them.  I have to wash sheets and towels separately as well.  This was one of the first things they cautioned us about.  I also clean off any furniture that I sit on, he can't use the same bathroom...the list goes on and on.  So far, the precautions are working really well. 

I get to chat a lot more with my Mom and my Sister because I work from home now.  I think we are all enjoying this ability and it will be sad when I get thrown back into the hectic pace of the office and am unable to contact them so much anymore.  But for now, I am enjoying the contact and I know they are a lot busier than I am so I try not to be too needy. 8-)

When all this is over, I would really like to take what I've learned from this experience and help others that are going through it.  I'm not sure how yet, but I think I could make a difference to those that are suffering.  It's funny...others have offered to help in any way possible and I'm not good at asking for help or even taking it when offered but I love giving it.  I had a friend tell me that she thought I might be going through this so I could help someone else down the road.  I guess like the "Pay It Forward" theory.  It would be good if there were a purpose to all this.  8-)  I'm not sure doing the coffee cart at the cancer center would be enough...I could care less about the coffee cart when they bring it around but the conversation of hope that I got from the coffee cart lady (Lauren) was immeasurable so maybe helping with the coffee cart isn't so much about the food stuffs but the reaching out.  I could do that but would everyone that is going through chemo going to be receptive to my prattling about my experiences?  I'll continue to muddle through these thought processes and maybe in 11 weeks, when this is all over, I'll have an answer.  Pray for God to open a door where I can serve with the knowledge I've obtained.