Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dang'ol Bambalance

So last night I was watching a movie with Adam when I  felt something kind of strange in my front right side....and by strange I mean a severe, sharp stabbing pain in my abdomen. Within a minute or two, said pain got to the point where it was almost impossible to take anything but shallow breaths and the pain was constant no matter the position. It was at this point that I had Adam call my mother so we could go the E.R. in Petrolia. As much as I HATE taking night trips to the hospital because everything takes so long as they have to bring in the on call staff, I knew this was an exception to my rule. I guess being able to breathe kind of negates all my previous hangups. We left home at about 10pm and I was admitted almost immediately. The usual routine followed, with bloodwork, blood pressure, temp., and lots of other poking and prodding. The on call physician Dr. Daniels was concerned that I might have a blood clot in my lung, or a bleed in my liver. Obviously starting treatment for either could cause some pretty serious repercussions (like... death) so he sent me to Sarnia by ambulance to have a CT of my abdomen and chest. The ambulance drivers were super nice and even took it kinda slow for me as every bump and turn was causing really severe pain, despite the Percocet I had been given at the hospital. When the results finally made it back to Petrolia (after I did), Dr. Daniels was able to rule out both the bleed and clot. Instead, it appeared that my gallbladder was inflamed and I had something that may or may not be pneumonia.  He prescribed some intravenous antibiotics for the possible gallbladder infection (administered once a day until friday) and morphine to make the infection, movement, breathing and life in general more tolerable. 
I was released from the hospital this morning (because I didn't want to be admitted for the next 4 days) and have been hanging out on my bed, pretty much motionless since I got home. The morphine helps, but I only wanted enough to take the edge off, but not get rid of the pain completely, so I don't damage myself more. and last but not least; with yet another round of the antibiotics I will unfortunately have to push back my chemo another week.

The thing on my upper arm is a soft-set(?) to administer the morphine (they use a funny little device to set it just under the skin, kind of like the top of a click pen) and the wolverine claw is the IV for the antibiotics that I get to keep until friday. 

I am a little disappointed with the London Cancer Clinic for not being a little more helpful with the whole situation. They have a doctor on call who is supposed there to advise other doctors in ERs across Ontario. I understand that being on call sucks but helping out a doctor dealing with a very sick patient IS YOUR JOB. Maybe try being a little more helpful. Thanks.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Minor setback

The start of round two of my chemotherapy has been postponed by a week. The weekend before it was to begin, I developed a rather painful tooth infection. I went to see my palliative doctor on Monday and he started me on 7 days of antibiotics in an attempt to clear it up.
Tuesday I went to the London Regional Cancer Clinic and spoke with Dr. Vandenburg. Following our rather lengthy conversation regarding all of the side effects that I have been experiencing, we decided that it would be best to give my body an extra week to recover. This would allow the antibiotics more time to run their course before knocking my immune system out again. As relieved as I was to hear this, the news was also a little discouraging. Mentally, it's tough to hear that your body isn't strong enough to handle the treatments. It's tough knowing that the cancer also has an extra "recovery" week before it gets hit with the chemo again. I just want to kick it's butt and having to wait around is disheartening.

Dr. Vandenburg was also toying around with the idea of reducing my dose of chemo, as I seem to be having a number of bothersome side effects. One of the reasons I respect Dr. Vandenburg as a doctor is that he actually listens his patients input. When I told him why I didn't want my dose reduced, he actually listened to me. It's nice to be able to have some input on your treatment. I know the first round of chemo was the hardest for me last time. I ended up in the hospital for 5 or 6 days after my first round. Although I had some sort of problem after all but 1 round, none of them compared to the first time. I'm hoping that this chemo will be the same. I mean... really I'm hoping that I won't have any problems with the next two rounds at all, fingers crossed.

I don't know what I was expecting coming in, but I now know that even the so called more gentle chemotherapy can be a jerk. I suppose I should have expected this, knowing that the point of chemotherapy is to kill cells in your body. I mean... anything with a job like that is bound to have some not so nice consequences. Although it didn't make my hair fall out (my radiation did), it's still wreaked havoc on my body.  During the first round, my skin became incredibly dry and sensitive, to the point where if someone touched me, it was uncomfortable. My hands and feet were and still are very dry, and discoloured. The balls of my feet started to develop uncomfortable red patches, at which point I was told to stay off them. My mouth sores, along with my infected tooth and constant stomach discomfort made/make eating a rather unpleasant experience. The puffiness and weepiness (is that even a word?) of my eyes and the fact that my nose runs every time I try to eat anything just further added to my annoyance. Finally... chemo wears you the heck out. I've never been one to nap, but for about 5 days in a row I had at least 1 nap a day.

On the bright side, I do believe that I am getting some of the strength back in my legs. Going up and down stairs is getting easier. My Palliative doctor also suggested that I start riding my bike, which is awesome. This past week, Adam brought me one of his bikes to ride :) It's beautiful...I'm just waiting for the weather to warm up again before I get out there. I've also started sleeping through the night again. I had almost forgotten how wonderful it is to get a good nights sleep. I'm so happy to be off the Dexamethasone! Oh... one final present the Dex left me with was another case of thrush. Jerk. Medication for this has been added into my arsenal of pills and rinses.

In other more exciting news Adam and I are now engaged. He proposed while we were in Ottawa in the beginning of March. We don't have all the details worked out yet, but we are planning on a small wedding. I'm afraid anything too large would just be overwhelming given my current situation. Thank you to everyone on facebook and otherwise for the congrats and support :) I'm really excited!!
I will hopefully get around to editing some of the Ottawa pictures soon, and post some of them on here. I forgot how much I love that city!!

meg xo

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seven Down

For the first time in about two and a half weeks this little chipmunk has been able to feel her cheekbones! Today is going to be a very good day indeed :) What is sometimes referred to as "moonface" by those of us taking dexamethasone appears to be subsiding. I have been able to reduced my intake from 16mg/day when I started (Jan. 26th) to 6mg a day. Tomorrow I will drop down to 4mg/day :) This is pretty exciting news as the steroid has been wreaking havoc on my sleep schedule for the past month. For a girl who regularly gets 8 hours a sleep a night, dropping down to 4-6 hours and waking up at 5am has been disheartening to say the least. Things seems to be looking up though, as last night I was able to capture 6.5h and I'm taking that as a big old victory.

ALSO!!! Today is officially the half way point of my first round of chemotherapy! So far, the only issues that I am dealing with are some tingly feelings in my hands and feet, some general discomfort in the stomach area, a little nausea, a tiny cough and one tiny mouth sore. I'll admit that the mouth sore is totally my fault for not rinsing with baking soda twice a day.  I'd say I'm doing pretty well considering the last time I was going through chemo, I had already been hospitalized at this point! Knock on wood.

To jazz this entry up, I have a few pictures that I would like to share with everyone.
I have been documenting a few of the things I've been doing with my friends and family over the past month or so. Some of them were low key, some of them, like the symphony, a little more extravagant :)

Jan 29, 30 &31st
The weekend after I was diagnosed, Adam and I headed up to St. Catharines, ON to visit with Asia and Peter. Little did I know that the group had planned for our friend Stephanie to surprise me. I haven't seen Steph since December 2008. Far too much food was consumed, which I will blame on the steroids ;)
On Sunday, I was also fortunate enough to be able to catch up with one of my favourite people, Mr. Kyle Foster :) Kyle made the trek to Hamilton to meet us for lunch... turns out that everything in Hamilton with vegan options is closed for lunch on Sunday, so we had to resort to KFC... which serves a vegan friendly chicken burger.

Pure sugar water. Pretty darn gross.

Feb. 12th, 13th, & 14th
This weekend Asia, Stephanie, and I headed to Detroit to hang out with Adam.  Peter, Jordan and Jess joined us on the Saturday.

Asia and Steph at Red Robin. I gain 5 pounds every time I eat here.
Adam calls it Chuck E. Cheese for adults and he isn't kidding!

The ladies first time at Target. 

On Valentine's Day, we all went to a fancy vegetarian restaurant for breakfast.
Peter (et al.) slightly annoyed that he had yet to get a coffee after being in the restaurant for 15 minutes.

Feb. 19th, 20th, &21st
This was the weekend of the symphony. Upon arriving in St. Catharines, we made our way out for dinner with Asia's family to celebrate her sister Kasia's birthday. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it was a pretty amazing evening. Then next day we headed up to Toronto and had dinner at Fresh with a few friends before heading to the symphony. As a post symphony celebration, we headed across the street from the hotel to Jack Astor's to enjoy the less serious/refined side of life.
Jordan. Not entirely sure what he is doing?
Asia showing me how to kick the crap out of cancer.
Steph and I
Peter and Tricia :) They really weren't bored. I swear.
Kasia, Asia and I at the Symphony

Jack Astor's 
Me sleeping in the Royal York Hotel... feeling like a princess.
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