I almost hate to say that this first chemo went well because it is like saying that you haven't been sick in awhile. That is a guarantee that you will break out with something by the next day. I was so nervous about starting chemo again because of how terrible the first four rounds of the other chemo went. I had been told by several doctors and many other people that taxol was a different beast, but I was still anxious about it. I had really enjoyed the month break from chemo and didn't want to start it back up again. I had written in the last post about the 2 drains I had placed under my left armpit to drain the fluid that had built up after surgery. I had the drains for a week and then had a follow-up with Dr. Arredondo on the 20th. The drains had been draining pretty good but one of them stopped about 2 days before I went to see him. I hadn't had any problems with them other than the fact that this nerve going down the back of my left arm was acting up. This is the same nerve that I had problems with after my mastectomies. When they were putting in the drains, the nurse said that I looked like I was in pain. She asked where it was hurting, and I told her that the nerve was beginning to hurt down my arm. This continued from that point on and by the time I went back to Dr. A it was really uncomfortable. It felt like someone had a hot poker and was burning the back of my arm. I told Dr. A about it, and he said the drains may have set off a superficial nerve. When he pulled that drain soon after, I about came off the table. That nerve went crazy and sent that horrid pain down my arm. He grabbed my hand and apologized for the pain. Then, we agreed that the drain must have been on that nerve. I've still had some nerve pain down the arm since, but nothing like that day or that burning sensation like before. It will probably just take some time to settle down. He didn't pull the other drain because he said he wants to be conservative with it so we don't have to do this again. I agreed. He told me to call when the drainage got down to 15 mL or less. Over the weekend, the drainage decreased so I called them on Monday. Tuesday morning I got the second drain out, and I can't say I miss them. I needed those out to start chemo on Wednesday, so this was good. Chemo went well with no allergic reactions or major side effects. The only hard thing was the strong benedryl they gave me before the chemo knocked me on my rear. I could hardly keep my eyes open during the 3 hour chemo and to drive home afterwards. I can handle this though. I'm not complaining at all. If they can all go this smooth, I can definitely do this. Now I just have 11 more chemo treatments to go. They will be every week if there are no hang ups.
Like I said before, it seems much easier to thank God a lot when things are going well. I've been trying to teach myself to find several things every day that I'm grateful for because there are so many blessings each day that God gives us. We just have to look harder on "bad days" to see them. Things are not always going to go our way and the road is not always going to be smooth, but if we turn our self-centered focus on God then it makes the ride easier and worth it. I challenge each of you and myself to take time this week to do something nice for someone else. It may be someone you know or a stranger. Do something you wouldn't ordinarily do to bless their lives. Pay for someone's coffee standing behind you in line or tell your checker at the grocery store what a blessing they are to you. Whatever it is, step out of your comfort zone and just do it. I think you'll be surprised how much joy it brings you to give God the glory through acts of kindness to your neighbor. This is what God calls us to do daily, but let's challenge ourselves to get it done this week. I love reading your comments and encouragements on my blog, so if you feel inclined please keep them coming. It helps me get through the rough spots. God bless you and love each of you. Shay
I haven't written since right before the new year because this last round of chemo was soooooo rough on me. I thought the first one was bad, but this one took the cake. I had the chemo on Dec. 28th and by that Friday I was starting to feel bad. We had decided to only do the Zofran pump until Monday because of the problems it causes like horrible constipation. By Sat and Sunday, I felt terrible. I don't think I really left the house that weekend. I had chemo brain (a headache that makes your head feel like it will explode with pressure), constipation, horrible acid reflux, dry mouth, a weird taste for food, nausea, and my intestinal tract completely shut down. Needless to say this went on all that next week and I could barely get off the couch I was so miserable. I don't think I have ever felt that bad. My oncologist offered to put me in the hospital twice but like my stubborn self I resisted. If I was going to suffer I want to be in the comfort of my own home! Looking back maybe I should have gone. Oh yeah, the other thing is that the Tuesday after chemo I began running a fever, and we still don't know why. When you are on chemo, your blood counts drop extremely low about a week after chemo and they call this time "nadir". During this time they are very particular about what you do and where you go if your counts are way down because of risk of infection. If you get a fever during that time of 100.5 they want you to take something and monitor it a few hours. If it doesn't go down, you call them. At 101 or higher you call them immediately. Mine was 101 so I had to call them. I would go from freezing cold to burning up every few hours. My fever came down a little over time, but until today I was running a low grade fever. I had to do blood cultures this past Monday out of my port site and my arm to see if there were any blood infections, but those came back negative.
Wednesday was my 3 month followup with Dr. Arredondo, my surgeon that did my mastectomies. I was glad to see him again because I enjoy his company. He is a really nice man and smart to say the least. I had a good visit with him and was even able to give advice to a young woman going through the same thing as me that he brought over to my room. He asked if I would help him out and told me a little about her story. Then, the patient and her mother came over to hear my story and make a more informed decision between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. I was glad to help. That is one thing I never mind doing is helping others who are just starting their journey down this terrible cancer road. If I were you, I would turn before you get to that road because it has lots of potholes and dangerous curves and hills you don't want to go through! Just saying. Anyway, after we talked to that patient, I told Dr. Arredondo about how the seroma (fluid stuck in my left axilla or armpit) seemed to be getting bigger and how it was really tender. He decided to do an ultrasound to look at it and said it was pretty big and dense in there. He asked if I wanted to try to aspirate out fluid with a needle and I agreed. It is like carrying an egg under my arm and very uncomfortable. He tried for several minutes to dig with the needle to get some fluid out, but he was unsuccessful because of how dense the fluid had become. He got out a little in the syringe and showed me. It looked like red jello to be exact. Dr. A then scheduled me for an outpt surgery or procedure to try to aspirate it and place a drain over at my hospital. I did this yesterday (Thursday) in the radiology department. Dr. Murray and a PA did the procedure and they gave me some versed to make it not as bad. It took a little while for them to get some fluid out and they ended up placing 2 drains to try to get rid of all the fluid under there. Luckily, the drains are doing their jobs and lots of fluid is coming out. I don't miss having drains I've decided, but I'm just glad that I don't have that egg under there anymore. I scrambled it and ate it for breakfast instead. LOL!
Dr. Pruitt, my oncologist, had postponed starting my new chemo from this Wednesday until next because of my fever stuff and the fact that I begged him for a break from the madness. Then, today I had to call his office and tell him about the latest development on the drains, and they postponed it again for another week to make sure I don't get any infections. I'm on antibiotics now with the drains because they are testing the fluid for an infection. If it isn't infected, then they are trying to prevent that from happening. The joys of cancer have been never ending! Joking. None of this journey has been easy but God never promises us an easy life. Yes, I again had my battles with him last week when I felt like absolute crap, but I stayed true to my studying and praying and again he brought me relief. God has really tested my patience during all this. I'm learning to not give up when it feels like my prayer requests are not being answered because he isn't always saying "no" but sometimes he says "in my timing not yours". That is hard for a controlling person to deal with believe me. I'm thankful though for answers to prayers and for the many other blessings he gives me beyond my health concerns. I'm thankful for how he has changed my outlook on life and for loving each day with my family and friends. I told someone the other day that I see death in a whole different perspective now. It's something we will all go through at some point in time and as Christians we will be in a glorious place with our God and Saviour Jesus Christ free from all this pain and strife. I can't wait for Jesus to come back. I couldn't say that before cancer. I had looked forward to it then but looked at it through distant eyes thinking I had the rest of my life to work towards it. No, today could be our last, so don't wait to make a move now to know our God better, love him more, and tell others about Christ. He loves you so much and can't wait to be your best friend to help you at all times - good and bad.
Funny story - You know a few days ago I had just gotten home from work, and the house was quiet. Chris and Bren had run an errand. I sat on the couch to relax a second. It was cloudy and COLD outside so it was kinda dark in my living room. Suddenly, it got super bright outside and the room lit up. I hollared, "Jesus - take me" and held up my hands because I didn't know exactly what was happening. My heart was racing. It stayed like this for about a minute and then went back to being dark. I laughed and said to myself, "Well, he either left me here or that was just the sun coming out for a second in an otherwise gloomy day". I told my friends at work and they were laughing too. I knew it wasn't Jesus coming back cause I'm not missing that bus, but it may have been God's way of reminding me for a second that he is still there on a day that seemed so normal. His light always shines bright on us if we let him be a part of our lives. Well, I hope all of you are doing well and are in good health, but don't forget if you are to thank God for that. We take good health for granted often. Please continue to pray for my sweet friends Jenny Mills and Darcie Milsow who are still bravely fighting their cancer battles. Also, please add to your list Rebekah Kerby, an occupational therapy assistant that is a co-worker, that had an aneurysm in her brain and is trying to wake up from a coma. She's a fighter so far. We can all use whatever prayer power we can get. Keep them coming and thank you for them. Love y'all. Shay