Sunday, March 22, 2009

Incidental notes

My schedule of Dr. appointments is confusing for people. It was confusing for me too. I get the schedule for a couple weeks at a time from the Dr.'s ofc and then I transfer it to my little calendar I carry in my wallet and the wall calendar by the phone. There was even a 4th calendar at first but I eliminated that quickly. Oh yes, there is a 4th calendar which is on an Excel spreadsheet and I send that to John as he relates well to that form of date keeping. My confusing schedule goes like this: I get a chemo treatment on a Wednesday and then I count forward from there and the 4th Wednesday forward is when I get another treatment. In between there are basically 2 groups of 10 days. The week after chemo, I get a Leukine shot Monday thru Friday of that week. That helps to build up white blood cells in my body. Every Monday I go in for a Lab to check my blood to see how my body is tolerating the treatment. Every Wednesday I show up for a Herceptin infusion that takes about 1/2 hour (in and out in about 1 hour). Lay all of that on top of each other and you have the schedule. The first 10 days I have to take it easy. Especially the first 5 days. My mouth and hands are sore and even though I might be feeling fine, if I overdo my days, I have repercussions. The final 10 days, I'm feeling quite normal except my hands look terrible as the spots and some peeling skin remain from the reaction in the first week to the chemo (and probably over using them).
I was told not to use commercial mouth wash and the here is a superior recipe the Dr.'s office gave out. I made up a solution of water, salt and baking soda...
let's see.. It is 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt to 1 cup of water. I swish that around after gently brushing teeth.
I may have written about this already but I continue to exercise too.... that being a cornerstone to my well being. On a 'hard' day, I do a small circuit in the neighborhood ... not quite 2 miles and up to at least 3+ miles if I'm feeling really good or I have been going with my hiking group in the AM's for around 3 miles in the hills. I do a small weight circuit in the backyard 3 X a week. So that really helps. A little yoga also is very beneficial.
Here's a marvelous quote from a gal who's going through the same experience. This sums up the secret to the experience.
"I've learned to stay in the moment when I think it's taking too long, and embrace the experience. If I perceive it as an observer, it almost doesn't feel like it's me going through it...almost."
The balance between activity and no-activity for me is important...but I generally feel better if I can keep moving and doing things. There are those times (after lunch) that I've climbed into bed for a short nap.... it does wonders.
A few people missed my bald head so I'll include a pix of that... more like a buzz cut as not all the hair has fallen out. The other one is with one of the wigs that I had professionally cut. In the last 20 years, my hair hasn't been one of my strong points. So I thought it wouldn't be a big deal to have my hair shaved off. The experience plays with my vanity. But the most freeing feeling is wearing nothing on my head and of course, getting ready in the morning is a snap.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Reminiscing and Future Plans

I pulled out a couple of pictures from my album from times that stand out as fantastic times and possible have similar adventures again. The criteria here is 'possible'. I'd love to experience northern Scotland again and hike in some of those high misty areas with another group. That time I was with an Australian based company that every year took their employees from around the world on a trip somewhere. I was lucky enough to be working for them the year they went to England and Scotland. I loved traveling with a group and not having to worry about such basics as where to stay and eat. It is nice to have those small details taken care of so the experience of the journey becomes the focus. Camping in the Scottish Highlands, I couldn't believe that at 11:30 at night, it was still light and then dawn came a little after 3 AM, complete with bird song. Amazing. The other experience was in 1994 and we had just pulled into our camp near the Eureka Sand Dunes in DVNP. There had been a wonderful evening storm and the sunset colors on the clouds and general ambiance was magical. There wasn't a soul around and the silence of the desert soon descended below a star studded night sky. Nothing quite like it. And I must see more of our Southwest. It still calls to me and there are places I want to camp and hike in. Then there is that cruise to Alaska with Anyra which is coming up after I finish 'the treatment'.
And by the way... the wild flowers here are the best since we moved here in 2000. The local Sierra Club decided that the best wildflower hike for miles around was right here in our own hills nearby. There is an amazing display of colors.... best of course in the early morning light.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19

I've been feeling awfully tired last few days and my hands are really sore. Dr.'s say, I need to cut back on activity.... and just take it easy. I can only watch 1 movie at a time... and I don't like TV. Reading can only be done for a short while. It's hard to take it easy! I was also feeling really bad about the wigs... they really are like rugs sitting on top of my, confining and too too big. I went to a hair salon today that specializes in wig fitting for cancer patients and took 2 of my wigs to her. She promptly trimmed the white one into the best little style. It put wind back into my sails and I was good to go for a few more hours. I'll go in next week and have the other one cut. She told me that ALWAYS wigs are sold with too much hair and one must have them trimmed. The American Cancer Society pays for this service so if you know of anyone like me, needing a wig ... tell them to call the ACS and find out if there is a salon near them that offers this service. I'd like to just go sans hair and probably will once it starts getting hot here but I have to admit, I'm a bit shy about it....because when one is 'swimming upstream', it's nice to not make too many waves doing it.
Today is my Grandson's 10th birthday. Bon said that he announced today that he has left the single digits behind and is now in the double digits. SO even though I didn't get to wish him Happy Birthday in person today when I called...I'm posting this into cyberspace and saying Happy Birthday to you...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2nd Chemo

Yesterday I had my 2nd Chemo treatment. It went well and I was only there 4 hours. So far, I have felt quite well. My hands are more sensitive than usual so I try and not get them wet or wash them too much while still minding rules of cleanliness. Also, if I do the dishes I always wear plastic gloves. I noticed after the first treatment, my heart felt like it was laboring more than usual when I was out walking. I continued walking as usual, breathing deeply and afterward, felt better for the walk as usual.
Towards the end of last week, after my hair had been looking so good I was even holding out hope that I wouldn't loose it, it then started falling out. I don't have much hair to loose and when the brush had much more hair than normal and my back and shoulders were covered with falling hair, I had John give me a close buzz cut. It isn't all that attractive but John, trying to help and add some humor, said I could wear the robes of a Buddhist Nun. I'll pass on that one but I have 3 wigs now and a few hats.
This continues to be an interesting journey with new insights and opportunities for feeling thankful. I appreciate all the prayers, good thoughts and well wishes as they mean so much to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring is Here!

Taken the other morning on our walk. The rains have been good and the desert is blooming. First the lavendar and purple come out, now the yellows are starting along with all the other colors. If we get some good warm days, there will be fields of colors everywhere. It is wonderful and with the morning birdsong, it is a joyful time of year.

March 1

I'm feeling quite well. The thing is, it is only for a limited time and then I have to rest. Worse than with strong FM. When I lay down, I conk out pretty fast and I'll be dreaming. After about 15 or 20 minutes, I feel refreshed and can get up usually and do something else. This is encouraging. Driving up and back from Keeler was hard and I wanted to nap. On the way up I pulled off at a rest stop and had a 15 minute nap before continuing. So it is; "do a little, rest a little" and as a friend said, "Just like the rest of us." I just saw Slumdog Millionaire this afternoon. WOW... good movie but I wasn't prepared for some of the heavy scenes. Still, I see why it won so many awards.