Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday 4.30.2008

Radiation Treatment #5

I got up this morning and got myself ready for the zap appointment. When I left, Daniel was still in bed.

At the radiation center, I changed, and had to wait about 5 minutes before Lisa came out for me. While I was waiting, Melissa was at the desk by herself, and I told her that I had forgotten to mention something yesterday. She asked me what it was--I told her that I have a bit of nausea for a few hours after my treatment. Yeah, she said, that's common. Do you have any compazine?? Yes, I do, I haven't used it for this, though. She said I might try taking it an hour or so before treatments and see how that does. Also, the effects of the radiation are cumulative, so the nausea will probably get worse as I go along. Ok, thanks.

Lisa came out and walked me back, and Ken and she positioned me on the table, zap, zap, I was done. As Lisa was helping me off of the table, Ken mentioned nonchalantly that the social worker would see me today. Oh? I'm sorry, I didn't know I had an appointment with anyone else today. My husband likes to be here with me during these appointments...(and I need him there too, to help remember stuff). Ken says that they don't make appointments, that the social worker just sees all the new patients at some point after they start treatment. Oh. So just get dressed, and she'll come out for you. Ok, thanks, see you tomorrow...

So I change into my clothes, and wait around for someone to come out. About 10 minutes later, Michelle comes out and introduces herself.

Michelle is a pleasant woman about 5 feet tall, maybe a little taller, maybe mid 30's. She led me down the hall to a conference room and we went in. She closed the door behind us. This room has a round table with 3 chairs at it, and 2 more chairs facing each other at an angle over in the corner. I think there was also a desk with a computer on it.

She started the conversation by telling me that she sees all the radiation patients, and can assist with most everything you need--transportation, finances, help at home, help understanding the processes, insurance stuff, etc. Or just to talk. She hands me her card, and asks if I have any questions or if I need help with anything.

I tell her that I'm pretty good right now, that I have an excellent support group with all of you, I didn't have any questions, but I have a couple things I'd like to talk to her about. Ok, she says, What's up??

I tell her about the scheduling issues, that I was told, not asked, about appointment times, and that they seemed very inflexible about that whole thing. She said they do guard their scheduling, but she knows they will do what they can if there's an opening to do something different. I also mentioned that I was wondering about a support group in Lansing; there is one in Jackson, but I don't want to commit to driving the 70 miles round trip. She said there were several, that she would put a list together for me, and that there is one that meets the second Monday, here at the radiation center, at 0900. Cool, that fits perfectly with my 0830 appointments. God and His wisdom....

We talked about some other things, and I thanked her and left. At home, Daniel was up and about. I told him of the social work visit; he was surprised about that, too.

After I had a light lunch, we went out for groceries; came back home. We put those away, and Daniel went out to the golf range and I did email and laid down a bit, then got up and put dinner in the oven. He came home, we ate when dinner was ready, and I went back to the computer and so did he. He went off to bed, I finished here, and I'm off, too.

My breast is tender and full, it feels like it did a couple weeks post op. I have put the aloe vera gel on it along with the cotton bra. Nausea was just enough to be noticeable, but not enough to medicate for. I have massaged the armpit/axillary wound bed to try to keep that cord thing from getting much worse. I'm doing what I can. I did not get out for a walk though. Hm. I'll try to get that in tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, be kind to the people in your world. Hugs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday 4.29.2008

Radiation Treatment #4

This morning Dan went to the treatment center with me, because we were going to see the doctor, too. I got changed, Ken came out and walked me back, and Lisa (that's her name, not Lynn or Kim) and Ken got me positioned on the table, went behind the wall and zapped me. Just like that, it's done. As I was getting off the table, I made it a point to look around the room.

There was a stainless steel table maybe 8 feet long, with a shelf below it, filled with eerie looking shapes that looked like parts of humans. I looked again, and I asked Lisa if those were "forms". Yes, she said, and picked one up. It was yellow mesh, like a heavy gauge onion bag, and had a tag with a last name on it. She said the product is pretty neat--you just get it wet and lay it on the person, kind of pull it tight, and it forms to the shape. Now, I'll tell you, most of these shapes were of heads. The eyeholes, nostrils, and mouths outside the lipline were cut out, and you could see the shape of the ears. The person lays on the table, the form goes over them, and it is fastened to the board underneath them to immobilize them. Eww, I thought. There were other shapes, too, like neck/shoulder, upper torso, etc. Then I saw a frame like a clothing rack, that had large blue rectangles suspended on it. These pieces were about 3 foot by 4 foot, maybe 4-5 inches thick. They looked like shapes like when you lay on the "memory foam" stuff. She said that was a pretty neat product, too. They come kind of puffy, the patient lays on it, and the staff vacuums the air out of it and it makes the shape. And the best part is that they are reusable.

I looked at the head form that she had in her hand, and told her that I thought it would be pretty difficult to do that kind of treatment day after day. Yes, she said, and often times, the surgeries for the head/neck cancers are disfiguring. Wow, I said, Thank God it's just my breast. I continue to be humbled.

I walked back out to the waiting room with Daniel, and waited for the nurse to come get us. After a few minutes, she did.

She had on a scrub top with matching cap, and a jacket. Hm, she kind of looked familiar... She took us into an exam room, and said her name was Melissa. Melissa, You worked with us at our first appointment. Yes, she said, I did. And you have a cap on?? I said. Yes, she said, she is being treated for breast cancer. Wow. She went on to tell us she found a lump just before Christmas (she's 38 years old) and of course had it checked out. It was a very aggressive cancer, and she's had 2 surgeries, is currently doing chemo, will do radiation, and herceptin, another chemo drug for a year. Wow.

I thanked her for sharing her story. We had walked by the scales, and I was 144# today on their scales, which is the same as I've been at the other office, but looking back, I was 142 on my very first visit to this office.

She did my patient education for skin care--lots of aloe vera gel, she gave me (maybe) 20 small sample size tubes of Aquaphor, and a folder with handouts in it about radiation therapy. She told me to use the aloe vera generously several times a day, and to put a pea-sized amount of Aquaphor on the nipple, and another pea-sized amount on each of my incisions. Also, to wear 100% cotton bras, or no bra at all, to minimize chafing/irritation to the already irritated skin. Or just plain cotton t-shirts, camisoles, tanks, or whatever is comfy. Ok. She looked at my breast and evaluated my skin, with a checklist that we will do each week. She also told me that my total dose of radiation is 60 gray, divided into 30 doses, for 2 gray each dose. (I googled it--a gray is the same as a joule in radiation speak) She also looked at the cord in my armpit, and has seen that before. I told her I've been massaging the axillary wound bed, and some range of motion exercises (thank you Diane), and it did look less noticable this morning. She thought that was a good idea. We've covered everything she was supposed to do, and she went out to get the doctor.

Dr. Jeffrey Richmond came in, and explained that Dr. DiBiose was out sick. Oh. This Dr. Richmond had on a lab coat that was embroidered with a lot of things over his pocket, one of which was the University of Michigan logo.

He was very careful in looking at my chart, then looking at me. He asked about tenderness--yes, about a 2 on the pain scale. He felt my left breast, and I must have done something, because he made a comment that it was pretty tender there. (Yeah, you're pushing over the wound bed...) We talked about the skin, and I showed him my underarm. Yeah, he said, there's something there. He felt the breast again, and asked the nurse if there is a lymphedema clinic here. Yes, she said, a very good one. Ok good, he says, and tells me that he'll send me to the lymphedema clinic for an evaluate and treat. He says that may be fluid accumulating in the breast, as well as localized response to the radiation. I don't think he ever said anything about that cord in my arm. I'm glad for the referral to the clinic.

Dr. Richmond spoke outloud as he was writing his notes, and I liked that. He would look to me for verification as he was going along; that made me feel like I was actually a part of my own care. Thank you Dr. Richmond.

We were done, and I changed back into my clothes and we left. It was about 9:30.

I called the hospital and asked when Joyce wanted me to come in, sooner or later? meaning 1 pm. Whenever I can get there was her reply. Ok.

As I was getting ready to go to Jackson, the Physical Therapy place called Rebound Rehab and Hand Clinic called to set up my appointment. A nice lady named Connie told me about their facility, and scheduled me for May 5 at 1 pm, and will mail me a packet of papers to fill out. Ok, thanks Connie.

With that done, I had a small snack, finished getting my things together, changed my clothes, and headed south.

I found a parking place within one block today, and clocked in about 11:40. Joyce gave me report, she finished up, and left.

I had a pretty good rest of the day with good co-workers. We were busy, but not so that you felt run ragged. The day went on, the night shift arrived. All but one, that is. With the call in, that left them short a person. I offered to stay and get vitals on everyone and chart them before I left. So I did. I ended up leaving the hospital about 8 pm.

Over to WalMart. I looked for the cotton bras--there they are, and several styles. I picked 4 different ones to try on to start with. And I'm glad I did. The ones I thought I' d like best weren't good fits; 2 of them the top of the sides under the arm rested directly on the axillary wound. No good. The one I didn't think would work did. I poked my head out the door and asked the fitting room lady if she would get me a different size in these 2 models, and she did, but they still didn't work. When I was dressed, I went out, and one of the girls showed me the sports bras, thinking they might work. I did end up with 2 sports bras that hook in the front, a regular bra, (all of which are cotton), the aloe vera gel, some "all that" sunglasses to wear over prescription glasses, and a couple more bandanas. Even though it took me a while, I did good.

Home. 10:25 pm. Daniel is tired and sore. He is up, waiting for me to come in. We visit a bit, he watches the end of his show and goes to bed. I write here. It's now 12:30, and I have to be up for my 8:30 standing appointment....

Thank you for reading, for encouraging me. For the hugs and phone calls. You are the best.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday 4.28.2008

Radiation Treatment #3

After the usual sleep broken with the hots throughout the night, I was awakened at 0700 by Tisha from work, telling me that the person covering me this morning would like to stay until 1:00. Ok, thanks. We dozed off again, then I got up at 0800.

I got ready for the day, and as I was having breakfast, the phone rang. It was the Radiation Center, Ken the technician, reminding me that my appointment was at 0830 this morning. No, I said, you changed it to 10:10. (Now I'm second guessing myself, as I was having a time remembering which day had been changed.) No, he says, it was 8:30. Ok, I said, and apologized, and told him I thought he had written on my card the times, and I had transcribed them into my planner incorrectly. So what do we do now?? He said just come on in, and they'll put me in when there's a space. Ok, I'll be there soon. (It was almost time to leave for my 10:10 appointment.) Daniel asks about the phone call, and I get the card from my planner. Monday, 4/28, 10:10. Perhaps Ken didn't enter it into his computer correctly....

So when I get there, I change, and Ken comes right out to take me back to the treatment room. I hand him the card; he looks at it and says, yeah, and hands it back to me. No apology or explanation from him, just a shrug of his shoulder. Interesting...

Another woman was in there today, she introduced herself as Lynn or Kim or something, another technician. Ken was off doing something in the room, and I asked Lynn if my axillary incision woundbed was in the radiation field. She said probably, but when they turn the lights on (the green laser lights), she'd be happy to mark it for me so I could see. Cool--thanks. She and Ken positioned me on the table and aligned the lasers with my tattoos, and Lynn/Kim placed several dots around my left breast/chest marking the perimeter of the field. I thanked her, and they both went back behind the wall. Ok, here we go, Ken said. Hold still....

I tell you I'm trying to look around and notice what's in that room, but they go so fast, and I can't see much laying on my back looking at the ceiling. What I haven't mentioned, is that in the ceiling over the table there are 4 ceiling panels that are flourescent lights, and they are covered with a photo-type mural of a field of flowers. So they are illuminated from the back. That's kind of neat.

The machine parts move around and into position, and I hear the machine click to turn on. About 3 seconds later, I hear a high-pitched tone, and I'm guessing thats the radiation. I count slowly, and I get to 14 or 15 when the tone stops. The machine clicks off, then moves to the second position. Ken comes out and slips a metal plate over the part of the machine that's on my left. I turn my head a little to look at it, and ask him what that is. He tells me to hold still, that it bends the angle of the radiation. He goes back behind the wall. I hear the machine click to turn on again, then the high-pitched tone. Again, I slowly count to 14 or 15, it stops, and clicks off. Ken comes out as the machine goes back to it's "park" position. He lowers the table and helps me off. Ok, he says, remember tomorrow is doctor/nurse day. Yes, I said, and my appointment is at 0830. Yep, he says. Ok, thanks, I say, See you tomorrow. And I'm on my way back down the hall. The whole process takes less than 8 minutes. In fact, when I get my clothes out of the locker they haven't cooled off yet. I change and am on my way back home.

At home, I take my shirt off and ask Daniel to take a picture of my chest with the dots on it. Why? he says. So we have the radiation field documented, I reply. Oh, he says, and takes the picture. That picture, and lots of others, are at the other site, (that site is listed as an adult site, because of the bare breast thing...) I change into my work clothes, and get the rest of my things ready to go to Jackson to work for a few hours. I find a parking spot way in the back of the lot again. I walk the block to the front of the lot and the shuttle arrives, so I ride the rest of the way over to the hospital.

I get a bit of a report from Dawn, and she leaves. The call lights are going crazy, and I do my best to take care of the patient's needs. Most are simple, like needing supplies or pain medicine, and a couple I had to refer to their other nurses. Then I helped someone breast feed, successfully I might add.

In the meantime, I've had just little pokes of nausea. Hm. Interesting. Not much, just a little, now and then. I'm going to ignore it, but I'm wondering if it's really something to do with that radiation. And my breast is a little full and tender, especially in the wound bed where the tumor was removed. This could be an interesting 30 treatments....

I left work after Christine came in to cover me so that I could keep my dental cleaning appointment. That worked out well.

My teeth are beautiful, no new problems, and are all polished up. They knew that I am being treated for breast cancer, as I had called and asked if it was ok with radiation, and also, my brother Jim goes there, too. It seems that he had been there not too long after he had shaved his head, and he told them why. Debbie, our hygienist, and Dr. Hess, were both very concerned about my well-being, and hope for the best. The only thing different was that my gums bled just a little, but both Debbie and the doctor said that that was normal after chemotherapy, and should be healed by my next cleaning, scheduled for October. Ok--I like being ok.

I got home, Daniel was umpiring a game. Whew--it's cold out this afternoon, so I decided to have something hot in the oven for him when he got home. I rummaged around and found chicken, stuffing, and winter squash, and he was a happy man when he got home. It was yummy.

He didn't stay up long, and I got to working on the blog. It's now time for bed.

Diane called with some recommendations for some exercises/movements to do with my arm; she is a physical therapist and also a masseuse. I have done the movements that I can do myself, and will continue to massage the axillary wound bed. Thank you, Diane, for your suggestions and encouragement.

And thank you all for reading, for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Hugs.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday 4.27.2008

Another pretty good day. We didn't wake up until 0830 ish, and I dozed back off until about 0930. Yes, it seems like I'm in bed a long time, but remember I wake up every hour or so with the hots. And after going to bed last night about midnight, I listened to the radio until about two until I felt I could sleep.

After getting up and realizing what time it was, I decided not to have breakfast, because we were planning to meet Frank and Kiesha at Olive Garden at noon. I think we said noon. I got online and was looking at stuff, and Daniel was working on a different computer, and soon it was 11:15. I called Frank to ask him what time we were going to meet; he said one o'clock. Oh--I thought it was noon, but 1 is ok, too. I'm finding that I don't remember/recall as well as I used to. Chemobrain. There really is a definition for it. Cognitive sequelae, cognitive impairment, cognitive dysfunction. Side effect of chemotherapy, may get worse or more noticeable as my life and activities return to "normal", may get a little better through the years, or not. Hm. (I was just reading about it in the Living Through Breast Cancer book.) I guess we just learn coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with how we are affected.

We got to the restaurant and went in; big hugs for Frank, hugs for Kiesha--I haven't seen Frank since their accident last weekend, and had not met Kiesha. She seems like a nice young woman, and they seem to genuinely like each other. They seem to be doing ok, though it's obvious when they talk about the accident they are both still shaken up by it. They had pictures of the motorcycles--John's bike is probably totaled, and Frank's has an obvious dent in the gas tank. Both are missing everything off of the handlebars, like all the instrumentation and such. No mirrors, windshield, etc. The farings were damaged also. I couldn't see a whole lot in the photos, though. I'm sure it's much more devasting to see them in person.

We enjoyed a pleasant meal, then went our ways. Back at home, we visited with Breon and Nick, and I got really tired all of a sudden. I went in to lay down; I looked at the clock it was 4:09. I woke up--5:44. !!!! I generally have a 20-30 minute rest and I'm good. Wow.

The rest of the evening we didn't do much. I had a bite to eat about 8 or so, read for a while, then wrote here.

Tomorrow Daniel has something in the morning, I have radiation at 10:10, then go down to Jackson to work afterwards.

My breast is still "there" today, and the thing under my arm, too. I guess each day will have it's own gifts....

Thank you for reading. Hugs.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday 4.26.2008

I had a pretty good day today. It finally cooled off enough in the early morning and I slept for a couple of hours without waking. Daniel got up and left to umpire a morning baseball game in Eaton Rapids; I stayed in bed for another half hour or so.

I got ready for the day, went to see Dr. Kribs, the chiropractor. He adjusted my head/neck/upper back again. I think he finally got it this time. As far as my left underarm goes, though, he doesnt' know about that. He hopes it will get better, and told me to come back "as needed". So what does that mean, that he's given up on the arm? Or that he thinks he's done what he can for me....

Ok, so here's my quest. I need someone who knows the anatomy of the armpit/arm/shoulder extremely well to figure out just what is going on with that "cord" thing, and the associated soreness at the elbow. Maybe with each of us "talking around" one of us will come across somebody. If you do, please feel free to either comment, go to my profile and find my email address and email me, or give that person this web site.

At home, I putzed around doing not much. Daniel hadn't called or come home yet, and I figured that by this time, he's going to be pretty hungy, so I looked around the kitchen and put together something yummy for my husband and me to eat, a seafood and pasta alfredo dish. Mmmm. And sure enough, when he came in, he was really hungry, as there was no concession stand at this site. And he was cold, too.

I went to Spring Arbor for a surprise retirement party for a co-worker, Mary Lynne. She was really surprised, and her family had a very nice party for her. I enjoyed meeting her family, visiting with them and some of my co-workers.

When I left, I offered my friend Treezer a ride home, and came on home myself. Daniel was working on a computer. I wrote here, and we're off to bed.

My breast is tender, maybe not as full tonight as earlier today. I'm going to try to not dwell on how it's going to feel as the teatments progress. Just take it one day at a time, just for now.

Thank you for reading, for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, and for the hugs. Back at'cha.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday 4.25.2008

Radiation Treatment #2

Daniel goes off to his eye appointment this morning, and I go off to the Radiation Center. When I go in, I walk past the window, pause, say hello, Kathy Jacque, and keep going on around through the door into the Radiation area. I go into a change room and put on the giant gown. I looked at the tag for a size, it was made in Pakistan or somewhere, but no size markings that I found. I billow out and put my shirt, bra, and car key in a locker, and take the locker key with me. It's 8:25. At 0830, Ken calls my name, and walks ahead of me in to corridors to the treatment room. I still can't walk that fast. Another male technician was in there with him, he didn't introduce himself. They get me positioned on the table, I take my arm out of the sleeve, put my arms over my head and hold onto the handle. They are one on each side of me, checking the placement of the green laser lights, they each say ok, someone says Don't move, and they leave the room. Oh. The machine whirrs and makes noises. I'm sure there are pieces moving but I can't see them because I'm not supposed to move. I'm not sure how long the machine actually is running, maybe 2 or 3 minutes maybe. Then a different noise, and the guys come back in. Ok, you're all set. Oh. Adrienne has come in, and she helps me sit up and get off the table. (she's the one who did the markings and tattoos). I say hi to her, and tell her that she did a good job with me, that I was very anxious during that procedure. She smiled.

And that was it. I went back out to the waiting area, got my clothes out of the locker, put them on, put the gown in the linen bag, and was on my way. It was 0840. Hm.

I went home and checked email, then went on to my massage appointment at 10:00. That was very nice. Leah worked on my neck and upper shoulders, and that goes right along with what Dr. Kribs the chiropractor is doing. When I left, I finally felt that those stress areas might be giving up.

I came home, showered, and headed to Jackson to go to work. I had to park in the back of a lot, and there was no shuttle that I could see, and walked the 3 blocks to the building. The unit was busy, and I was able to step in and help here and there and there, too. Today, it was better than having a regular patient load assignment. At other times, though, it's too fragmented for me to work like that. We did ok, and soon the shift was over.

The shuttle is out front and I hop in. The driver and I talk about the new route/parking lots, and I tell her there was no shuttle this afternoon. She encourages me to call security from my cell phone to have them pick me up, especially as time goes on and I may get more tired. Thanks, shuttle driver.

I drive home, Daniel is on the computer. We visit a little, then I check email and write here.

My breast feels full, and the wound bed where the tumor was removed is tender/sore. I haven't looked at it to see what it looks like. I'll check that in the morning.

Thank you for reading, for keeping me in your prayers, for sending positive thoughts and energies, for the phone calls, comments, and the hugs. You are each very important to me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday 4.24.2008 Radiation, Starting Now

Radiation Treatment #1

I woke up this morning, Daniel was not in the bed. The house was quiet. Hm. I got up and looked--he was in the large wing chair, with a big throw over him, leaned over, sleeping. Hmm? I watched him, he looked ok (I'm thinking, what did he do, have a stroke or something...), so I went back to bed, as it was only about 7 o'clock. Good timing, as the hot flash had passed and I was cool/cold again and snuggled into the covers. I slept until the next flash about 0800 and got up. I was getting myself ready for the day and Daniel came in. He said he had gotten up about 0630, was doing computer stuff, had gotten cold, and covered up, and gotten tired. Ok...

We left to go to the 10:50 radiation appointment, and arrived at 10:45. I recognised Vicky at the window, and she greeted us and sent us around and through the door into the radiation area waiting room. I went into the change room and put on the oversized patient gown. Even tied, they slide off my shoulder. I went and sat next to Daniel in the waiting room. There was a different jigsaw puzzle on the table, this one of river rocks/stones. I was kind of glad to see it, like it was familiar, and like Elaine was there waiting for me.

After about 10 minutes, I went up to the table and started picking at pieces. 30 minutes after arriving, I get called back. I went by myself, and Dan stayed in the waiting room.

Heather introduced herself, was very friendly. She led me around to the left side of the waiting room into a different room than we were in before. I mentioned that, and she said that the other room is where they do the "set up" and markings. This is the actual treatment room. Oh.

It seemed maybe a little smaller, but not much, and just as cold. Sheesh. Another person was there, he introduced himself as Ken, also very personable. Good, Thank you God for letting them be personable. He explains that they will be checking my positioning, and doing a CT scan, just for positioning, not anything of diagnostic quality. Ok, I said, Thanks. I do better when I know what's happening, so if you could just continue to explain what you're doing, that would be great. I got onto the table with my butt-bones against that crosswise piece, and they try to position the head "donut". She moves it a couple of times, asks me to move down some more. I'm right on that positioner-you're welcome to put your hand there and check for placement if you'd like. She passes on that, and repositions the donut-thing again. Between the three of us, we get my torso compressed and positioned where they wanted it. She has the handle thing that looks like a bicycle hand grip, and inserts it into a hole in the plate just above the head thing, and I raise my arms above my head and grasp it. Big Breath. Ken tells me I need to hold still. Hm. I am holding still. I'm anxious and need to breathe...

Heather goes behind the glass wall and turns on the laser lights. They are green, and she and he position the lights so the crosshairs are targeted on the tattoos that have been placed on each side of me. Ken is on my left side; he gets his light into position and says Excellent, Perfect! I like being excellent and perfect. Heather is on my right side; she lays her hand on my hip bone and says she's going to move me a little, but after adjusting her equipment on that side she says It's good over here too. Hm, that was easy. I breathe again. I lift my head to see what it looks like. Ken reminds me I need to hold still. I tell him I'm anxious, and I'm deep breathing so that I can hold still. And I want to see what it looks like.... Now there's a large disc that has the crosshairs in it hovering over top of my chest, lining up on the mark on my sternum. Good, Ken says. Now don't move. Ok, but I'm still going to breathe....

Heather goes into the room again, they get even more focused on what they're doing. He goes to each side of my body, and I don't know what he's looking at, because he told me to hold still, but he's calling out numbers to Heather in the other room. He looks at the disc over top of me and calls out another number. Now, he says, I'm going to take a digital picture of you so we can see how you're positioned. (Hm, could you straighten my gown a little better? I really don't know if my breast was exposed or not, because I couldn't lift my head to look....) The UFO disc moves away from my chest, and Ken explains that this arm coming along the table from the head and over my shoulder will get kind of close--it was maybe 18 inches or so away, and had a large flat plate-like area on the end. It stopped at an angle above my right breast, like it was looking at the left breast. Ken said they were both going to be in The Room now, but they can hear me and they can talk to me. Ok, thanks. And he tells me to hold still again. I am. I breathe again.

The laser lights somehow move over me and flicker, and the UFO disc hovers over my chest and flickers. There's humming and clicking, and I would really have liked it if Daniel had come with me, so that he could be in The Room with them and know what was going on. Then the disc moved away, the arm with the plate moved just a bit a couple of times, and whirred and clicked, and moved away. As it was moving away, the room lights came on, and Ken appeared.

"Ok", he said, "We're done." Oh? So you did the CT thing and I had a dose, too? "Yes," he says, "we're all set. We mapped your positioning and you had your first treatment." Oh. I wish I would have known when that was happening. I might have wiggled a little less. "Great" I said, thinking I didn't feel a thing. He offered his arm to assist me to sit up. Thanks.

Heather comes in and hands me an appointment card with a time written on it. "3:30, every day. That will be your time slot."

"I need to talk with you about this scheduling stuff. 3:30 isn't going to work every day." Heather and Ken look at each other, and Heather turns and leaves the room. Ken explains how they schedule patients for a time slot. I ask him if he would listen to what I need, and see if something is available for those times for Friday and Monday. After Monday, I have kept my calendar open, and I show him that I don't have anything scheduled for May; I just need Friday and Monday. And I explain about my work days, and working in Jackson. Ok, he says, go and get dressed and I'll look and see what there is. I offered to look at the computer with him, as we were walking by it, and Heather had the schedule page up. No, he says, I'll come out to the waiting room....Sheesh. Ok. At least he listened to my request. I asked him if I would get a "goody bag" with skin care products. He looked at me like I had two heads. You'll see the doctor and the nurse on Tuesdays, every Tuesday. The nurse will go over patient education Tuesday and review skin care with you then. (Hm, so after I've already had 4 treatments, then you'll tell me about skin care....I've read enough to know that a lot of treatment centers send you home with products and tell you to use them several times a day....) Ok.

I went out to the waiting room, into the change room, and dressed. I don't know if it was because I was so cold, or what, but that incision under the arm was purple. And the nipple was bright red. Hm.

I join Daniel in the waiting room and tell him that Ken is trying to accommodate me for tomorrow and Monday, and that they've plugged me in to the 3:30 slot. Dan shakes his head...

Ken comes out and hands me a new card. This is what we've got, he says. Friday, 0830, Monday 1010, then every day starting Tuesday at 0830. Ok. Better. I thank him, and tell him I appreciate that he took the time to help me. He says no problem, and if I ever need to change a day, just let them know at least a day ahead of time.... (Huh?) Great, thanks, Ken. See you tomorrow. Dan and I look at each other like Where did that come from? and Why couldn't they have done that in the first place instead of being so stuck on their schedules.....?????

We leave, out into the beautiful spring sunshine. I'm nauseated. I don't know if it's nerves or radiation. I breathe.

When we get home, I write the appointment times in my planner, and realize I have a meeting in Jackson at 1:30. I have 45 minutes before I need to leave. I'm ignoring the nausea, and have a bite to eat, snab a bottle of water, kiss Daniel goodbye, thank him for going with me today, and head out.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon I've had little pokes of nausea, that I've tried to ignore. And my breast feels picky inside the wound bed, and the nipple, too. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so tuned in to myself.

When I got home, I was kind of restless. I checked the email--thank you all for your words of support and encouragement--and had a couple of phone calls, too. You are all so important to my treatment/recovery process. I decided I would go out for a walk. I ended up putting on the sports bras (yes, I wear two of them, one didn't support the sore breast enough) and going ouside. I went out into the neighborhood instead of here in the complex. I walked pretty good, as long as I don't look down at my feet, or turn my head fast, and then I started jogging. I ended up going about a third of the way around, walking a third, then jogging the rest of the way. Now, mind you, I'm not going fast, nor do I have a long stride. And if I didn't feel I could do it, I would walk. And I did. I was still ignoring the intermittent nausea.

I got back in, Daniel was back from umpiring. I drank some more water, had some saltine crackers, and showered. My breast really is warm and pink over the incision/nipple/wound bed, and the nipple is a little tender and tingly. And my fingers on the left hand have been tingling all day, too. I don't know if the radiation is aimed at the area under the arm or not. I'll try to ask tomorrow.

Thank you for reading, for commenting, for your emails and phone calls. They DO make a difference. Hugs.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday 4.23.2008

Wow, isn't it awesome how the leaves pop out on the trees, seemingly in one day??

Dan and I went to the chiropractor this morning. Dan had a "little" work done, and Dr. worked on my head/neck/shoulder/left arm again. I think it's helping; it doesn't seem to be getting any worse.

Dan went out golfing in the afternoon, I stayed home and putzed around, and laid down for a brief nap. After I ate, I went outside for a walk. I was able to walk a little faster, as long as I don't turn my head quickly. It was a beautiful evening with a slight breeze.

I came back in about 45 minutes later, visited with Dan some, and wrote here.

Frank and his friends are doing as ok as they can; Thank you for your prayers and well wishes to them.

Tomorrow is my first actual radiation treatment at 10:50. We were told that this appointment will take approximately 1/2 hour, to verify that the position and placement and adjustments and settings are correct. I'm anxious, different than having chemotherapy. Maybe because we won't be there as long, maybe because I'm only damaging a part of my body instead of the whole thing. I don't know... I do know that I'll be breathing deep and doing my best to stay calm and think of bright colors and positive energies surrounding me.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday 4.22.2008

Another Work Day

I got up and headed to Jackson with good weather this morning. We had a good group of girls to work with, and all went well. Other than my head. No big incidents, but I still can't turn my head fast or walk quickly. I am patiently (mostly) waiting for this to resolve.

I spoke with Frank this afternoon; John is off the vent and awaiting surgery to repair one of his legs. Amber was to have surgery sometime today to repair on open break on one of her lower arms/wrist/hand.

I came home and had a bite to eat, then wrote here. I'm pretty tired tonight. I'm going to say goodnight, and thanks for reading, and keeping Frank and his friends in your prayers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday 4.21.2008


I had just gotten my feet on the floor to get out of bed this morning when my phone rang at 0430 with the news that the census was low, and it was my turn to be "on call". Woo-hoo, my lucky day!!! I turned around and got back into bed. After the flash had passed, I dozed back off.

A couple flashes later, I woke about 0830. Daniel decided he would go play 9 holes, before leaving for his umpiring duties later this afternoon. I putzed around the house, finally had breakfast, and thought I might be able to go to the chiropractor again today.

I called the office to see if there was availability, and there was, so I headed out a little before 1. As I was parking, my phone rang. It was Frank.

He had news of a motorcycle accident that he was involved in around midnight last night. Yes, he's ok, but John, his riding buddy and housemate, is not. Nor John's friend Amber. Seems they were riding down Page Ave in Michigan Center, and someone ran a red light. Frank likes to "hang back" instead of ride side by side, and John was first into the intersection, and they got hit. John was Life-Flighted to the University Hospital, with several broken bones, and off the ventilator as of this afternoon. His friend Amber is at Foote Hospital with broken bones and probably a head injury, as Frank was tending her while she was unconscious lying in the road. While that was happening, Frank's bike was parked back behind Amber, and another vehicle hit Frank's bike and sent it flying. That driver almost hit unconscious Amber in the road, and John was able to move his broken self out of the way of being hit again. Frank and his friend, Keisha, saw the first crash, and of course the second one, too. They are both having a hard time with the images in their heads.

Whew. I prayed with my Frank on the phone, asked if I could do anything for them, gave him a phone hug, then went in to see the chiropractor. I told Dr. Kribs of the phone call, and we thanked God for Frank's safety, and prayed that they would all be ok. Then he did what he does, and I do think that my arm is better, even if incrementally.

Since I was in Mason, I went over to the Meijer store there and picked up some groceries (Yes, I was still on call, and if I get called, that's the end of the grocery shopping...) The phone didn't ring, though, and I got home, unpacked, and had a bite to eat. Did my ironing, then decided I'd better get outside and get my walk in. So I did.

Windy out in the open, but nice. I was out about 45 minutes. I tried picking up my pace, but my head will still not allow that; it's almost like hangover headache. So I did what I could.

I came in a visited with Breon, then got on the computer and wrote here. Daniel came in about 10:00, and we're about ready to go to bed.

Please pray for Frank and his friends, and be kind to yourself and the people in your world. You just never know...Hugs.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday 4.20.2008


Another lovely day. We went out to Breon's Grandpa's 80th birthday party (Daniel has remained friends with him through the years). It was nice, short. I chatted with a couple ladies about Breon's upcoming wedding and bridal showers.

We came home, I fixed myself something to eat. Daniel had eaten the assorted fried foods there at the party; that just didn't appeal to me. We did laundry today, and have just not done much else today.

I'm still kind of fatigued today. I ended up not getting outdoors for a walk (bad me), and am scheduled to work both Monday and Tuesday. So, I hope I can rest between the hots, and have a good day tomorrow.

Daniel umpires tomorrow afternoon, and I think he's got a round of golf scheduled in the morning.

That's about all for today... Thank you for reading. Hugs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday 4.19.2008

Another beautiful spring day that the birds cannot help but sing about.

I slept ok, I guess. I have a new "normal". Doze for a bit, wake up moving around in the bed, then hot flash. Covers off, cool off, become chilled, covers on, doze off, wake up wondering why I woke up, then realize I'm going to flash. I'm becoming resigned to the fact that I'm hot flashing all the time, both day and night, and there doesn't seem to be a pattern or trigger or anything like I've read about. It's ok because it has to be ok, but I'm not so sure that the frequent interruptions of sleep is ok.

I didn't do much today, really. Putzed around, did some correspondence, napped, ate, vacuumed, kitchen chores. I took my new shoes out for a walk again this evening, about 7-ish. I guess I like to hear the birds in the evening, too. I tried walking at a more normal pace for me, and I did it, though I really had to concentrate on the spatial focus thing. Weird. So I thought, while I was going at this pace, I could slowly jog at that same speed. And I did. I went about 4 blocks or so, got my heart rate up, then had to walk. I haven't run since...when? The first chemo treatment is what I can recall, so that would have been January?? I'm happy that I'm able to get outside, and I hope the radiation allows me to continue, at least for a few weeks yet.

Golfer Dan got back home about 10:30, looking all sun-sprinkled, tired, and happy. It does him good to get away.

I'll finish this so I can visit with my husband... Thank you for reading. Hugs.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday 4.18.08

What a beautiful day!! I do believe the seasons have changed. The sun was warm, the forsythias (the yellow bushes) bloomed today around here, and the windows and doors opened all day.

After my shower today, I looked at that "cord" under my arm. My elbow has a tender spot on it, too, about the size of a quarter. When I raised my arm to see the pit, I could see a line, or ridge, all the way down my upper arm to the elbow. And it is tender. I decided to act on Daniel's suggestion of seeing our chiropractor, Dr. John Daniel Kribs. My thoughts are that I have a problem here, and I would go pick his brain to see if he had any ideas or if he knew someone who might be able to help me...

Since it was so very warm (the car thermometer showed 77-78 degrees), I put the top down on my Sebring. I wore the visor thing that doesn't have a crown part on the hat. It sure felt funny, the wind blowing through that little bit of hair up there. And I hope it didn't get sunburned...

At the office, I left my visor in the car, and went in "topless", or "commando", as I've heard some say when they go without anything on their heads. I sometimes call it going "headless". The young girls behind the counter looked at me kind of funny, but the other adults I encountered didn't show any response at all. Hm. Cool.

Soon it was my turn, and Dr. Kribs greets me warmly, and exclaims about my new hair. He is a very hands-on kind of guy (well, duh, he's a chiropractor...) and he reaches out and rubs my head. Neat, he says. It feels like it might be curly... I'm not so sure about that, but time will tell. I saw him after my first chemo treatment, I think, and not since. So I catch him up to speed, fill in what Daniel has shared with him. Dr asks a couple of questions, and all the while he's touching me, following the lymph channels from my head/neck/shoulders and front clavicle area. I show him my underarm and he sees it right away. You know how health care people are--wow, what's that--and he's all about checking that out. That's good, because that's why I'm there. I tell him that I saw the surgeon for it, without much resolution. Ok, he gets serious. He has me sit on the table, and he checks my spine from the top down, then back up. Ok, he says. He positions my arms the way he wants them, moves me around, and crack, crack, like popcorn. He seems surprised as he says "Oh, that was easy", and goes on to re-adjust and re-align most anything that will move on the upper part of my body. He then takes my left arm and hand and moves things around--by now, I'm busy concentrating on breathing, because it hurts pretty good. He's holding the sore spot on the elbow with one hand and doing something in the shoulder with the other--ooowwww--I'm breathing, and my eyes want to leak. Shoot, I think to myself, I hope he's doing some good in there.....

He's done, and helps me sit up. Or so I think. He takes my right foot and moves that around, then my left foot, and pays more attention to it, using pressure points and talking about "channels" and nerves and "balance". Yeah, ok, as long as you fix me. Already my hand is feeling better.

He tells me he thinks we'll be able to make a difference in that armpit, and he has me raise my arm again. The chord is still there, a little less pronounced, and my whole arm feels not so tight. He says it will take a day or two to balance out, and wants to see me again Monday. I work Monday and Tuesday, so I made an appointment for Wednesday, 11:00.

Tonight I think the hand, and forearm in general, look better. My hand tingles like its getting a blood supply, my armpit is kind of achy. I hope this stuff resolves. I've still got my head not keeping up with my body, too.

I get home and am hungry. I cook outside on the grill (the complex has grills out in several locations for us to use--ours is very conveniently near) and go back inside to eat. Yum.

The evening passes. I've had a couple of phone calls today, thank you for calling. Daniel is happy with his adventure, looking forward to golfing tomorrow if there's no rain. He'll be home sometime tomorrow afternoon/evening.

All of your cards, phone calls, emails, comments, hugs, and well wishes are so very important to me. I am anxious about this next phase of treatment, again not knowing how my body will respond and what side effects, if any, I will experience. I keep the visual of the colors handy, and am able to breathe and say a little prayer for God's strength, and can refocus my own energies to lessen my anxiety a bit.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday 4.17.2008

Work Again, Again.

Daniel's phone rang this morning about 3, his friend saying he would be at our house in about a half hour to pick him up. (The message was for his friend to let us know when he was leaving Flint...) Ok--! Daniel hopped out of bed and hurried to get himself ready for the day, and since he was packed, it was no big deal. Al arrived about 3:30, they loaded Dan's car and left about 3:45. I stretched out to sleep for another 40 minutes before I had to get up for work...

An uneventful drive down, the shuttle drove me over to the main hospital, and off we go for another busy day in mother/baby land. And busy it was. I'm not sure, but I think we had at least 8 babies on our time today, with another 6 or so to deliver yet this evening. It will be interesting to see the statistics at the end of the year, as we have an average of approximately 2000 deliveries per year. It sure seems that we're on track to exceed that this year.

I worked with Teresa M back from her Europeon vacation, and Marilyn H. The 3 of us on West. They did great, I did ok, mostly. I had a couple of instances where I had many things to do within the same time frame, and I did ask for help, and got it, and got back on track. The day progressed.

I am flattered, and humbled, by the warmth and ease of everyone's support. I know that I've had a stretch of days that have challenged my positive attitute. I still have issues with the motion/movement and pace, but hope for and look for each day's improvement, however small.

One of my wonderful co-workers/friends brought this in to me today. The daffodils are from her garden, (the vase is mine), and the inside of the card says "less nausea and fatigue, a chance to grow your hair back, but most importantly, another step down the road to being cancer-free!!!"

She hugged me, we chatted about how I'm doing, and she hugged me again. My eyes were leaking. Thank you God, for my friend Mary H. Just when I needed that external validation, there it is.

The later afternoon was congested with vital signs, timed events, call lights, meal trays, patient care, etc. I ended up having to do all that charting after the oncoming shift took over.
As I was leaving the hospital, Daniel called. They made it to Kentucky before noon, had a bite to eat, and got out on the golf course. He's happy.
After talking with him, my son Jeremy called. He's happy, too, having taken a position with a company in Savannah, Georgia. That gives him a 20 - 30 minute commute. We had a nice visit on the phone.
At home, I putzed around, took this pic, and got on the computer. I'm pretty tired, after working 2 days; I'm glad I have an open schedule tomorrow to be able to rest.
Thank you, God, for sending me angels when I need them, for kindnesses both given and received, and for the many hugs I've shared today. And thank you, Readers, (blerkers, as some would say--those who don't comment or otherwise communicate with the blog) for reading.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday 4.16.2008

Work Again

I got up after a short night. I'm finding that I wake up, like restless, and within a couple of minutes here's the hotness on my head, neck, and chest. I'm usually lying on my side, and roll over onto my back. I move my feet and legs out of edge of the blankets, my arm is out, then I move the remaining covers from my torso. I turn the pillow over and am surprised at how cold it is. If I'm really lucky, there's a breeze coming in the window, and I cool off within 10 minutes or so. Yes, I've watched the clock. The last couple of nights have been warmer (30's), and not much air coming in the windows. We have the ceiling fan on "low" all the time, and I have gotten up and turned it to medium. That helps some.

After I've mostly cooled down, my feet and legs first, I wait to feel cool on my torso, then cover back up. Within another few minutes, I'm chilled again. Really. I feel like a turtle, coming out of the shell, the pulling back in. Sometimes I'm so cold I shiver. After my body temperature somewhat stabilizes, I drift back off to sleep. For maybe 30 minutes, maybe hour and a half, max. Wow. The good part?? I hear that some women actually perspire through their pj's and end up soaking wet. Not me, just a bit moist on the neck. Sometimes my head is a little wet, but not that my pillow is obviously wet.

And this happens frequently throughout the day as well. Sheesh.

One of my co-workers was in a motor vehicle accident in December, and sustained a serious closed head injury, as well as broken ribs and other injuries.. She just came back to work within the last week or so. Unfortunately, she has leftover seizures. She was telling us that yesterday she had four of them, one of them a grand mal. Scared her husband big time.

Dear God, please watch over my friend Sue. I will try not to fuss over my hot flashes. Please make both of our afflictions go away.

Our work day was busy. Again, great co-workers. I'm still not walking a "normal" pace, and crouching down/bending over, then standing, is not a good thing in my head. I'm hoping that this has just about run it's course, and another couple of days will find me out walking, at least semi briskly.

Daniel is leaving for Kentucky early in the morning, and I work tomorrow, too. I'm going to go to bed, right after this next hot flash....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday 4.15.2008 New Hair Pics

New Hair

I'm convinced my hair is returning. On the back, the colick (how do you spell that sworly hair thing?) feels like it is going to be as unruly as before. I think it's a hoot how the remaining stragglers look like ostrich hair...

These are before and after make up, thanks to the Look Good Feel Better program. I know, it took a lot to put the "before" pic on, but I want you to see just how the much the brows have shed. And what I want to know is, how can some hair grow while other hair is just now coming out....???? It doesn't really matter now, as the last assault has launched, landed, and cleared. Well, mostly, anyway. My head is still not all better.

I didn't sleep much last night, restless, with the hots. I can only hope to learn to cope with them, or better yet, they go away!!

Today, Dan and I went out shoe shopping, as both my running shoes and work shoes have broken down. We were successful at Kohl's. Went to Meijer to gather food, then over to Cracker Barrel to eat. (Not a favorite place for me...) At home, we put our harvest away, then Daniel went out in the garage to "practice" his golf stuff, and I took my new shoes out for a walk. I think they liked it. I tried real hard to walk a "normal" pace, and did pretty good, but my head still likes to go a little slower. I can only think that I'm doing good for myself by getting outdoors and moving...

The birds were very noisy this evening. I came back in the house and spent time with the laptop.

Tomorrow is a workday, as is Thursday. Thursday, Daniel leaves for a 3 day golf escape to Kentucky. I hope he has good weather...

Thank you for reading. Hugs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday 4.14.2008


I slept last night, at longer intervals. I remember waking only a few times due to the "hots". The window was open about half, there was a little bit of air coming in, and during one of my "up times" I changed the speed on the ceiling fan from low to medium. I made the comment to Daniel that I finally slept--he responded that "it got pretty cold in here last night". I asked him if he was cold, he responded he didn't know, he didn't wake up. Ok, must not have been too uncomfortable. I reminded him that he could turn on his side of the electric mattress pad if he was too cool. (I was thinking that the temperature was predicted to be in the 20's tonight, and hoping to have another better night's sleep. And what was I going to do when it started getting warmer....???)

I have been researching a couple of the remedies I've heard of for hot flashes--one was to increase Vitamin E to 1000 mg per day, that some women have had reduction, even elimination of flashes with 800 mg. Ok, I can try that. I've taken 400 mg twice a day for two days now. I did sleep better last night, but was that because of the frost on the fan blades, or the Vitamin E, or just because I was really tired after working 2 days? I'll go another day or two, then add a third tablet, timing it at 8 hour intervals, and check that out.

Another remedy I came across today is megadose Vitamin C. This guy has researched for 30-40 years now, and believes ascorbate in mineral forms, including ascorbic acid, does wonders for the body. I will continue to look at that, and maybe try it. Being water soluble, it flushes out. And goodness knows, I've been drinking enough to rinse out a swimming pool. Olympic size.

I rested most of the day, sleeping for an hour in the late afternoon. I got outdoors about 6 o'clock while the sun was still warm and the breeze was quiet. The birds were vocal, and I enjoyed hearing them. I went to the perimeters of the complex; one side borders a cornfield, and out of the corner of my eye I saw movement through the trees. Hm. I stood still and watched. There it was again. A deer. I crept into the woodsy border between the complex and the cornfield and stopped--it didn't hear me. I moved forward again, but the dry brush and leaves underfoot alerted the deer. It put it's head up and looked in my direction until it found me. I stood quiet with eyes locked with the deer. It was pretty cool. It put it's head down, then looked at me again like it wasn't watching, you know how they do, and turned it's back to me. I had to laugh. It turned it's head to see if I was still watching. I was, and it flipped it's white tail and took a couple of bounds, stopped, and looked at me again. I was thinking of how coy this animal was trying to be. I took a few more steps and sat on a felled tree closer to the edge of the field, and saw a raccoon cross in front of me. After my surprise at that, I looked at the deer, who was busy flipping it's tail at the two others that had joined it, and the one I had seen first led them all further away and behind the curve of the tree line, out of my line of vision. I'm sure it turned to look at me, to make sure we were out of eye contact.

How neat. Thank you God, for letting me see other living creations, for that piece of peace.

I wandered back into the complex, marveling at the birdsong, spring peepers, and the general music of the dusk. I'm blessed to have the ability to hear--how does one describe birdsong and spring peepers??

I tried to increase my pace--I walked almost my normal speed, but couldn't look directly down while doing it. I found a distance I could look, and continued at that pace. That worked, as long as I didn't turn my head or move my eyes quickly. And when I stopped, it was as if my brain was still moving. Weird. Then it caught up, and I started walking again. I decided I would continue at the faster pace to increase my heartrate/metabolism, even if it was just a bit. I've got to get better in the head.

I walked around another building that has a unit posted for sale. The owner came out and talked to me, a young woman named Kelly from Illinois. She is graduating from Cooley Law School, and it's time to sell and go home. I congratulated her on her achievements, we small-talked a bit, she invited me in to look at her condo (which I did-a very nice 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath ground floor unit), and I went on my way.

At home, Daniel was looking at the videos he had done of his golf swing, etc, today. I told him I had a good walk, and he went back to his computer stuff...

The evening progressed. I had something to eat, and wrote here. Daniel has gone to bed, and I'm on my way, too. I hope there's a cold breeze from the south/southeast...

Thanks for reading. Hugs.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday 4.13.2008

Another Workday

Drove to Jackson in the snow--yes, snow. And wind. It wasn't sticking on the road, or even trying to freeze and be slippery. I arrived without incident, and was about 8 minutes early in the parking lot (meaning I had about 8 minutes before I needed to leave the car), and was listening to the current audiobook to pass the time. And then.... Security pulls up to take me over!! Yay!! I thanked him, and told him I appreciate the ride. He said he tries to watch the lot for vehicles... I'm thinking, yes, shouldn't anyone in that position.

We had a good crew, and another busy workday. We didn't get lunch until after 1:30. We did get a morning break, but we were ready for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was busy; I did ok, but I got really fatigued about 5 o'clock. Not only my body, but my brain, too. The others helped me keep on track, but is that really how I want to function? I think that all I can do, is to keep doing my best.

My head is still not 100%. My pace isn't either. Maybe a little better, but not much.

I thank all of you for the hugs and kind words, and words of encouragement. I like hearing that you are a reader, and that you read frequently. It helps to know that you are "out there", supporting me. I didn't know what this road was about; the steps we take to reclaim our health. From the initial soreness and swelling, to diagnostics and confirmation. Surgery, surgery again, recovery, chemotherapy. A 10 day break, then radiation for 6 weeks. Recovery. Follow ups. So much we've been through, and so much yet to experience.

I am truly blessed.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday 4.12.2008

Workday. Drove down in a light rain. No shuttle today, walked the block and a half to the entrance of the building. Not quickly, not even my "normal" pace. Almost, but not quite.

We had a good work day. Busy, manageable, good co-workers.

Our shift over, we clocked out, and I drove home in the light rain also.

Daniel was (still) fine tuning his golf swing with the video he captured of himself. Breon and Nick had a box-full of cake samples for their wedding. I putzed around, got things ready for tomorrow's work day, and landed on the couch with computer to write here. Daniel rubbed my arm for me--ouch. But he said that when he was done, the "cord" was softer. Boy, did it hurt.

A couple of interesting tidbits: some of the leftover/original hair on my head is coming out again (still?), as well as some (new?) hairs that are about 1/4 inch long; I discovered that the itchy spot just on the inside of my nose was two hairs popping through the skin; when I was crouched down and stood up, not like fast or anything, and turned at the same time, that was not a good move. I also discovered that food actually has flavor, and that I haven't been this many days without chemicals since January 9. Wow. I have 11 days before my body is bombarded with radiation, 11 days to breathe and heal.

Thank you for strengthening me with your love, your colors, your energies.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday 4.11.08

Yum, Massage Day

So after all the procedures and processes and infusions and head fuzziness, I was able to enjoy a massage today. The Massage Therapist I have been seeing is very busy, and is booked months ahead. This massage was scheduled back in January, and was the last of the ones scheduled at that time. So, of course, today I scheduled into July. Leah Hicks, Mason Massage. Wonder Woman.

The rest of the day was spent doing household chores--laundry, food prep, etc. I read a little, did computer stuff, blah blah.

I'm happy to say that my head is still clearing, though not 100%. And I realized that food actually had flavor. My underarm is very tender, as is the entire area that seems affected by whatever it is. Leah gently massaged it; I'm not sure that's what is going to remedy whatever is going on.

Daniel still has an occasional cough, with lightly colored sputum.

We had a few rain showers pass through, and intermittent sun.

Overall, it was a good day. Tomorrow is a workday, as is Sunday.

Thank you, God, thank you, Readers, for sending me your thoughts and prayers and energies and colors. Hugs.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday 4.10.2008 Radiation Marking

I showered this morning after a fairly restful night, comparatively. I am quite anxious about this appointment, the "planning session" for radiation treatments. I massaged my arm in the warm water, trying to get whatever it is to go away. It doesn't hurt like it did, but is that because I've become accustomed to the discomfort, has there been a change in sensation, or is it better/resolving?? I don't know. Sometimes I think that my arm has a "full" sensation, but visually I can't tell. I was hoping that my arm would be measured today, but it wasn't. I didn't have a nurse visit today; I was told I would see a nurse next visit. Ok.

Dan and I arrived at the Ingham Radiation Center for our 10:30 appointment. Daniel drops me at the door and goes off to park the car. The lady behind the window was different than I remember; the woman in front of me said she was here to see Dr. DeBiose, and the Window Lady told her to go on back. Huh? I have an appointment with Dr. at 10:30... Daniel joins me at the window, and the Window Lady tells the other woman to wait a moment--another staff person comes out and escorts the first woman back. Hm. Window Lady comes around the divider and escorts us down a hallway--there is a dividing wall maybe 5 foot tall that is topped with artificial greenery. This partial wall is creates the hallway from their reception/office area. The end of wall opens up into another waiting area, rimmed on 2 sides with upholstered metal waiting area type chairs. There is a table in the center of the room, a bit larger than a card table, with a jigsaw puzzle in progress. The pieces are brightly colored, and I see the lid of the box is stood on edge, and the picture is of tropical fish. (Interesting--as I am writing this, I have the thought that one of my co-pilots enjoyed puzzles, and would have liked that one. I had prayed before I left to help me be peaceful during this appointment. So Mom was there waiting for/with me??)

On another wall are 2 large doors, each marked "Change Room". Through another opening I can see a wall of lockers, each with its key on a springy wrist bracelet in the lock. Hm. Opposite us is a wall, half of which is covered with brown cabinet doors, and into the corner is a set-in counter that has an empty, turned off coffee pot, a basket that has "complimentary" written on the side, and some literature/handouts. I'll check that out later.

Daniel and I sit there a few minutes. Another, older, couple come in and sit down. The gentleman takes off his watch and glasses and hands them to his woman. Another moment later, a staff person comes out, greets him, and escorts him back.

A young woman comes out with a file in her hand. Stands there, looks at it for several seconds, then says "Katherine" with an accent such that I could hardly understand my own name. Oh, great, I'm thinking. My first time here, I'm scared to the edge, and here's someone who looks about as unsure as I feel. She tells me I need to put on a patient gown. Ok, I say, waiting for instruction. She turns to ask a staff person for a gown, and the staff person brings a gown, then checks in the dressing room. Oh, she says. Hoo Boy, I'm thinking. Anyway, I go in and put on a gown, and come out. I smile at her, trying to reassure her as well as myself. She leads Daniel and me back to the CT room. When we get into the room, a "real" staff person is there, doing what they do. She turns around and introduces herself as Adrienne, and introduces Hosna (?sp) as a student. She tells Hosna go ahead. Hosna goes into the introductory spiel, and after a couple of paragraphs, Adrienne steps in.

It seems I am having a CT scan to get started. I ask Adrienne about lying on my abdomen (remember the table with the "boob holes") and she said that while some facilities are doing that, it is still relatively new, still controversial, and better suited to larger breasted women. She looks at my chest, and accurately guesses that I am a B-C cup? Yes, I say, and she says that a smaller breast is actually better, because of the amount of energy (and then she said what the unit of measurement is) used for larger or denser areas can cause greater damage/unintended effects. Ok. Thanks, God, for smaller breasts. She asks Hosna to do something, and when she is away from us, Adrienne asks if it's ok for me to have a student. I tell her kind of, because I'm really nervous and anxious. She can be in there and learn, but I prefer that you (Adrienne) do all the stuff. She smiles, and says sure, not a problem.

Ok. Lets get positioned on this table. The CT machine is like a large ring, tire, doughnut, standing on edge, with a table going through it. There is a triangular shaped bar width-wise across the table at about upper thigh--Adrienne called it the buttstopper. Get your bottom up against that, and lean back, and place your head in this round shape. Well, let me tell you, it was about 52 degrees in that room, and my bare back against the cold metal table was having me looking for one of those hot flashes. A long one. One of the girls puts a bolster under my knees, (must have been Hosna) and Adrienne comes up to my left side of my head and helps me position my arms up and out to the side, and over my head. Well, you know with that left shoulder still being bum, we had to get that support piece where it would work (there are some angles that my shoulder will not move into). We had some difficulty adjusting the different pieces to my smaller-than-average (read petite) frame, but the girls finally decide that "this will work". It's important to get this positioning just so, Adrienne explained, because we're going to mark you, so that we can align the lasers and radiation accurately for each treatment. Ok, then, let me wiggle a little bit more, because I'm just not comfortable, and I don't think I want to replicate that every day. So, after a few more adjustments, they think we're good.

Adrienne goes into a teaching mode with Hosna; they are on each side of me with their marking pens. At this point, I look over at Daniel, who smiles and nods at me. The girls do their thing, and I am getting marker marks on me. They place some type of lightly adhesive metallic strips in strategic positions--one was along the incision on the breast, and the others might have been where they made the marks on the sides. I raised my head to look at what they were doing, but was reprimanded and told to hold still. I told her I was trying to see what it looked like. Nope, you have to keep your head still. Hm. Ok. (How am I going to write about it if I can't see it??)

They are done with the marks and markers, and call Dr. DeBiose overhead to come into the CT room. A few moments later, he does.

He approaches me, shakes my hand, asks me how I'm doing. I tell him I'm nervous and anxious, not knowing anything about radiation treatments and all. He smiles, and is very kind, reassuring me that all will be well, that each of the staff are very good, they'll take what time we need to take, and that it's really a very simple process. (Sure, I'm thinking, you're back isn't stuck to this table like a tongue on an ice cube tray...) He goes on to tell me some more technical stuff while he's clinically looking at my exposed upper body, checking the markings with my anatomy, touching the outer edges of the breast tissue and explaining the angle of the radiation, looking to make sure the laser lights on the machine are lined up on the markings correctly, etc. He says it looks good, and that they are all going out of the room while the machine does the CT scan. Adrienne adds that it might be about 3 minutes.

I am alone in the cool room, placed onto the equipment in such a way that I'm afraid to breathe. I had been taking big breaths during the setting up, to try to calm myself, and I don't know if the machine is doing it's thing or not. After what seems like 20 minutes, but was probably only 2, the machine makes a low whirring noise, that steadily rises in volume and pitch. It reminded me of an airplane engine firing up. I took a breath, let it out, and said here we go Lord. The table started moving, and I went back and forth through the ring several times. I lost count after 4. The table stopped and the machine wound down, the sped up again, and I moved back and forth a few more times again. The table pushed back out, and machine turned off, and they all came back in.

We're done with that, they said, and Dr. asked when my last chemo treatment was. I told him March 19-20. He said, ok, lets start you April 24. Ok, I said. I'm thinking, good, that gives my arm and breast more time to heal..

Adrienne tells me not to move, and gets the stuff to make the marks permanent. She tells me it's India Ink, and she'll use a large needle and poke once. She starts on the right side. Ok, poke--(Ow, that one hurt, like a wasp burn/sting). Then to my cleavage. That didn't hurt quite as much. Then the left side. I hardly felt that one. I breathed out. Permanently marked, no going back. Adrienne asks Hosna to get the camera to document the placement of the marks, and Adrienne takes the pictures.

They dab at the ink a little, then say we're done. Hosna shows me back to the change room. She turns away, and as I'm going in, Adrienne catches up and says the card was not in the camera, and would I mind if she comes in, too, and takes pics again. Sure, not a problem.

Adrienne takes the pictures she needs for the chart, and I take adantage of the one-on-one opportunity. I ask a few more questions to clarify some things, like what about the fatigue, and the skin care. She says of course people get tired, the body is working hard to repair the damage being done by the radiation. And using aloe gel and/or aquaphor ointment should be enough for the skin care. The nurses will talk with you next visit and tell you more about your care. Ok, thanks, I say. I have dressed while she's been talking to me, and we leave the change room.

Mary, one of the nurses, has my chart now, and leads Daniel and me to an exam room to wait for Dr., as I haven't signed the consent yet. He comes in right behind us. We end up having casual conversation, I ask him if I could see the images we just did. Sure, he says, and we go back over to the CT room. At the computer, he pulls up my images, and we go through the series. My films look good, he says. Dr. Sanchez left lots of clips in both of the surgical beds. I was surprised, I don't think that was mentioned in the operative report. Anyway, he prints out a copy of the image for me, and shows me the angle of the beam for the treatment. Cool, thanks. We go back to the room. He sees Dan's current Golf Digest mag that I had put in our Appointment Bag, and they start talking golf. For about 20 minutes. I have been chilled, and I realize that my body temp has come up to normal while standing there. I know the room temp hasn't changed--I recognised the hot flash. Funny.

The guys finish up, I sign the consent, and we leave. It is 12:30.

Somewhere near the end of the process in the CT room, Adrienne talks about appointment times. I tell her they will need to vary, she tells me I have to plug in to one time throughout the 6 week treatment period. I'm thinking that's not going to work well for me. Dr wants to start treatment Thursday April 24, and Friday, then every weekday for the 6 weeks. I'm thinking that gives me some time to figure out what works best for me, for us at home, and us at work. Especially work. I am having a hard time with "leaving the team" in a bind for staff. It's no fun to work short handed, and it's no fun to pick up extra hours, either. And it's no fun having these treatments. I'll do what I need to do for myself, and I feel bad about stepping away from my job responsibilities.

We got home about 1. I breathed a lot, and reflected on what just happened. It all went well, I suppose. I fixed lunch and ate, then took the pictures before cleaning off the marking pen from my skin.

These pics show the left side. The incisions show pretty good, too, and X marks the spot for the tattoo.

Right side, and right side tattoo.

Front view. There is a mark in the center, with a tattoo there, too.

So, that was my day. I cleaned off the marker with ointment, and I have the three "blackheads" left.

Thank you for reading, for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I sure needed them today, and I was breathing in all I could. Love to you all.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday 4.9.2008

Day 22, Treatment #4

Today was picture day. I took pics of my underarm thing, my hair, and my breast. The breast photos I'll put over on the pics blog. (to get there, go to my profile and choose that blog)

Here is my underarm, showing that cord thing that hurts so bad.
You can see how it goes down my arm; the ouch goes almost to
the elbow. And the other way, where it looks full, that is tender
to about 1 inch above the incision, then it's just numb. And see--
no hair. I haven't shaved pits since February.

The back of my head. I was surprised to see that it looks like
my hair is starting to grow back. How can that be, when the
eyebrows just came out the other day?? I don't know, it's just

The front of my head. The longer hairs are what's left of my
original hair. You can see on the eyebrows that they're pretty
thin, and the inside end of each of them is about gone. I didn't
lose the eyelashes.

I had a pretty good day. After taking the pics, I had breakfast, then went out to the post office, then over to Meijer to do a return, and pick up a few other grocery items. When I got home, I started food prep, which took way longer than I had intended. I finally got the scalloped potatoes in the oven, then started on the apple pie. I had cut up more apples than I needed, and ended up with 2 pies with a crumble topping. The scalloped potatoes weren't as thick and creamy as I had wanted (but were good anyway), and the pies turned out to be very brown instead of golden brown (but were good anyway). And I had to eat a sandwich before the stuff was done, it had taken so long to get ready. Regardless, Daniel was happy.

I took a nap after a while, that was good. Both of my boys called today, that was good, too. My friend Chris and her friend Eileen stopped by for a short visit, that was good too.

Tomorrow we go to the Radiology Center for the planning session. We were told it will be and hour and a half. Pray for Daniel to have patience, for my caregivers to be kind and gentle. I am anxious about this appointment, mostly because of the unknowns. I will trust God that all will be fine. I will breathe, fequently I'm guessing, and pull your colors around me. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday 4.8.2008

Day 21, Treatment #4

Well, here it is, a full 3 weeks past my fourth and last chemo treatment. I am very surprised, and a bit disappointed, that I am not feeling as good as the previous treatments. Yes, I am better. I will say this in a positive way. I walked just a little faster today, and maybe a little more of the fog lifted. I had some stomach discomfort and tried the new replacement prescription drug (for the Nexium) I think it's prevacid, and it worked some. Yes, I think I'm just a little bit better today.

We got up this morning and went to Dr. Sanchez' office so she can check that underarm tenderness/burning/soreness. The nice lady called us right back to the exam room (funny how I notice there are 3 framed artworks on her walls, a calendar, a poster of the digestive system on the inside of the door, and the exam table was navy blue...)

Dr Sanchez came right in, and approached me with her arms open. I stood up and hugged her. She shook Daniel's hand, and introduced us to a fellow with a Chinese/Japanese/Korean type name (no offense to any ethnicities...) and said he was a third year med student. I'm not sure what his English skills are, as he didn't really say anything, just smiled and nodded and shook our hands. Anyway, Dr asked where I was in treatment, looked at my face closely and said I looked good, that I look to have tolerated chemo well. (Hm, ok. Thank you God for letting me tolerate treatment well.) She asks me about my arm. I pull the sleeve off of my arm, and undo my bra. She says I don't have to do that. I tell her I want her to see the incisions, show her the staining from the dye that was injected under the aerola. She has me sit on the exam table, and elevates the head of the table so that I can lean back onto it. She raises my arm over my head, and I show her where it is hurting, and point out the cord running through the pit.

She sees it right away, and has a surprised expression on her face. She regains composure and puts on a professionial face, and says oh, yes, we see this. Not a lot, but this happens. She is now touching it, and pressing on it. It hurts and I tell her so. Yes, she says, and palpates (presses, touches) all the way down my inner upper arm. Man, does that hurt. Back up and into the armpit, through the pit down to the incision. It's still numb directly above the incision for maybe an inch or so, then it kind of tingles, then into the pit it just plain hurts to touch it. And she's putting pressure on it.

After what seems like several minutes of her doing this, I realize that my eyes are closed and I'm trying to not hold my breath, but to breathe through the pain. And I realize that there's fluid coming from both of my eyes. She continues to firmly but tenderly massage that entire stretch, and I finally open my eyes and tell her "that hurts". She says yes. She continues to massage my arm, now going down the arm to my hand, telling Daniel that this needs to be done 4 or 5 times a day. And put heat on it, too. I have a vision of me tucking my head under my arm when I'm having a hot flash, like a bird tucks it's head under their wing... She explains that it may be a nerve that's full, or a lymphatic channel. Either way, it needs massaged. And, she says, you see that it's already softened up from what we've just done. She touches it again. Hm. Ok. A little better. The cord doesn't feel quite so tight. See!? Just keep doing this and it will be ok. Ok, thanks.

I ask her about radiation, and how that will affect the wound beds. Yes, it will affect it some. The axillary one, not so much, but the breast one, yes. And remember, she said, your skin may end up darker on that breast, and will be more firm. It may soften up some, but that will take about a year or so. She went on to say that with breast conservation (lumpectomy) vs mastectomy, yes we save the breast, but may have to sacrifice some of the shape and appearance. And it will take a good year or even more after treatments have ended for all the changes to even take place. Ok, I say, like a good patient. For some reason, I'm feeling a little not-so-good about the whole another-year-for-healing bit. But I know that what she's saying is true. I restate to her, as I'm getting re-dressed, that my concern was that there was something going on in there that was going to be adversely affected by the radiation. She looked at the axillary incision again, and where that is in relation to the breast tissue, and thinks that it may be just on the edge, that some of it might get irradiated, some might not, but it should be ok either way. Ok, thanks for your time.

She small talks a little about church, and how she has gotten very involved in hers, and how much she is liking it. (When we had met her, she had told us that she had started going to a new church...) She wishes me well with the rest of the course of treatment, hugs me again, and shakes Dan's hand again. I tell Med Student good luck with his program--he turns and smiles and nods--and they leave the room.

I go over to the sink and wash my hands. I tell Dan I hope they wash their hands out there somewhere, after touching my pit like that. Hm.

All of the staff smile at us as we leave, and wish us well. They were all very pleasant today.

As Dan and I come home, we see that gasoline prices have jumped 25 cents/gallon. Daniel stops and fills up at Meijer, where the price hasn't changed yet. Plus we get the 5 cents off/gallon with their credit card. We get home, I take my car up and fill it, hoping to still pay the $3.23. I did.

When I got back home, I changed clothes and got my things ready to go to Jackson to work. I got to thinking about it--we had someone coming in in the early afternoon on the schedule. If someone was going to be on call........ I decided I'd better call, because it's my turn, and I didn't want to get there just to be sent home in a couple 3 hours or so. Good thing I called; I was told to stay home, and be "on call" starting at 1:00. Ok, thanks.

I took of my work clothes, put on something comfortable, had a bowl of cereal. Before you know it, I was really tired. So I went in and laid down. Sleep, I did.

That was really nice. When I woke up, I wandered out to the kitchen. Since I'm off work, I could cook. I had taken refrigerator inventory and come up with a couple of ideas.... ring, ring. I'm needed to come in to work. So much for that, We'll cook tomorrow.

I had a good workday afternoon. My co-workers are phenomenal. The hugs and genuine concern and well-wishes all make for a better experience from this not so fun time of my life.

I thank you, each and every one, for the energies you share with me, for taking the time to ask how we're doing, and for reading, calling, emailing, and commenting.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday 4.7.2008

Day 20, Treatment #4

Got up and went to work. It was a good work day, with a good crew. We were busy, but a manageable busy.

I am still not able to walk quickly, or might I say, my "normal" pace. My head just doesn't keep up. I can't turn around quickly, either. I try to take the time to think, to make sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I called the number on the card that I have for Dr. Sanchez. It was at the Breast Care Center, and the woman who answered transferred me to Kathy, the nurse/scheduler. I tokd Kathy what I was experiencing under my arm, and she said I needed to be seen before I start radiation. She also mentioned that today is Dr. Sanchez' first day back from vacation, and she knows that Dr. will be busy catching up. Kathy said she would page her, and also call her office, then call me back later this afternoon. Ok, Thanks. We chatted a few minutes--she said she remembers me, she asks how I did with the chemo, and says we'll run into each other in the near future, as the Radiation Center is just a different hallway from the Breast Center.

Kathy calls me in the early afternoon, saying that she spoke with the office staff, and between them, they decided to go ahead and schedule me for tomorrow, Tuesday, for 9:15. Ok, great Thank you. I work tomorrow, but I'll worry about getting the hours covered.

Shortly after I speak with Kathy, Daniel sends me a message that he has spoken with his doctor, who advised him to stay on the Biaxin until it's gone. I phone him; he is not happy. He says doctor told him that some people take as long as 4-6 weeks to feel better. Yep. It's a nasty bug. I tell him of my appointment for tomorrow.

I have to get back to work, so I end the conversation. I ask my co-worker Diane if she'll cover for me tomorrow, and she agrees. I tell you, I have the best co-workers.

The rest of the day passes, and at the end of our shift, I leave and come home. Daniel is fixing food, Breon is wedding dress shopping (on eBay), and I change clothes and unwind. After a bit, I get the computer, and I check email and write here. I ended up having to write this twice--somehow, it posted it to someplace in computerland, without me knowing how or where it went, other than on the site. When I looked for it, it was gone, with just a blank template with the date on it. Oh well. So I wrote it again, but it's different...

I'm off to bed. Thanks for reading. Hugs.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday 4.6.2008

Day 19, Treatment #4

Slept fair, you know, with the hots and all. I think that the hot flashes are something that need to be adapted to, unfortunately. I would prefer to eliminate them, that they would just go away. Oh well, I'll do what I need to do.

After my shower and breakfast, I was checking email, and noticed that I had brushed little hairs off my eyelashes and a couple off my cheeks. Ok, this is weird. I got up and looked in the mirror--and after some exploration, my eyebrows are having a major shed. Yep--the wide parts at the inside of the brows are mostly gone; patchy might be a word. And the rest of the brows are pretty thin. From the Look Good Feel Better program that I went to in February, I have a couple of brow pencils, and they had shown us how to use them. I experimented with the colors and technique--I'm ok with how it looked. The good news--that was the last chemical attack my body will experience, so after this round of hair loss, it should start regrowing at some point.

Daniel and I went out for groceries. I am still not able to walk my normal pace, and my head is still not right. We got what we needed and came home. Lunch, and before long, I took a nap. Daniel went out into the outer garage and did whatever he was doing (he mentioned sweeping, I presume to be ready to set up his golf practice net thing). He came in short of breath, and coughing, trying to get that stuff out of his lungs. I think he's better, in the sense that he's not running a temp since he's been taking the antibiotic, and the stuff is breaking up and he's able to spit it out. He's not so sure he's that much better.

Another thing I noticed after my shower, is my armpit on the operative side. You know how I have that numbness down the underside of my arm? It has become more sensitive over the last many days, maybe even a couple of weeks, and the last couple of days I have noticed that the underside of my arm hurts, along that nerve. Like a burn. I thought that maybe the nerve was regenerating or something. Today when I raised my arm to put on the deoderant, I noticed that there is a "cord" -- a raised rope-like strand running from the axillary incision to the arm side of my pit. And man, is it tender. Like ouch, that hurts. I showed Daniel, and we think that it would be a good idea to run it by the surgeon. I will call Dr. Sanchez' office tomorrow for an appointment.

The sun was getting low in the sky, and I had wanted to get outside for a walk, so I went. A bit breezy, and cool, but lovely just the same. While I was out, I tried to increase my pace a little. That just doesn't work. My head got all weird, my perception was off, and it took a few minutes to catch up. Oh well. As I said earlier, this is the last chemical attack I will have. These side effects can clear out any time now, the sooner the better.

Dan's got the tv on, I'm writing here. He went off to bed, and I'm on my way, too. Tomorrow is a workday.

Thank you all for reading, for the phone calls, emails, and COMMENTS. I appreciate your support, and that you take the time to keep up, or check in, on me. Hugs.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday 4.5.2008

Day 18, Treatment #4

Another beautiful day. Sunshine and birdsong.

Daniel and I went over to the Grand River Park here in Lansing to watch the MSU Rowing Team host the races with teams from Indiana--Indiana University and Notre Dame, and Miami, Florida. While we were there, we found the tent for the WeCanRow program, an exercise/fitness program that a woman founded in 2002 to encourage breast cancer survivors to maintain/regain fitness after treatment. (I came across the program mentioned in the book "Living Through Breast Cancer", and there was a second program in Lansing, MI. An email address was given, so I wrote to Stacey Rippetoe, and she wrote back!) The ladies of the Pink Ribbon Team were very friendly and kind, and invited me to come to any practice on Wednesday evenings. Ok, thanks. That sounds like fun. I'm not sure I can actually row hard at this point, but it was good for me to see ladies who have recovered, have a variety of hair textures/colors, and are healthy, not looking like they've had cancer. I wanted to ask them a hundred questions about their experiences, but this wasn't the place...

We left shortly after noon. When we got home, Daniel had a bite to eat, then left to go golfing. I set about to making a new recipe for the Rhubarb Pinwheels, a yummy sounding sweetened, fruited, tender biscuit/pastry like, cinnamon-roll-looking dessert. What I discovered was that I was recipe challenged today--it was difficult to follow the directions, and took way longer than it should have to mix up the simple ingredients and get those things into the pan and into the oven. Jim, Polly, and Heaven were here before I had gotten it assembled, and Polly helped me stay on track. We got it done, and 30 minutes later, we had a yummy rhubarb pastry thing. It was so good, Heaven was asking for more....

They left, Daniel came in about 6:00. He was wiped out. He said he played well, but boy did he look tired. I was glad I had taken leftover pot roast out of the freezer and had it ready for us to eat. He was really hungry, and he liked the rhubarb things, too. He dozed off in the chair....

Bre and Nick came in and fixed the food they had brought, and went off to watch a movie. I caught up on the computer stuff. After a while, Daniel went off to bed, and I wrote here. I have had the hots, as seems to be my new normal, all night and all day. I spent my computer time reading about hot flashes, and treatments/remedies for them. It seems that for us "chemically induced" girls, there's not much relief. A few of the antidepressants were listed as being beneficial in reducing frequency/intensity in about 40-50% of women, but I'm not ready to add more drugs. Yet.

My visual perception is still not normal (looking directly out the side window of the car and seeing things go whizzing by is not good), I still can't walk even a normal pace, and I had a bit of a time reading and following directions, which surprised me. But as each day goes by, the medication clears, and I get a little better. Your thoughts and prayers and hugs and positive energies all help towards my recovery. Thank you.

Rhubarb Pinwheels
from Reminnisce Extra

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
3-4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Few drops red food coloring, if desired

In a mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine egg and milk; add to crumb mixture, stirring just until moistened. Turn out onto a floured surface. Roll into a 12 inch x 10 inch rectangle. Brush dough with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar and top with rhubarb. Carefully roll up dough, jelly roll style, starting with the longer side. Cut into 1 inch slices. Reshape the slices as needed to form round pinwheels. Place in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch greased baking dish. For syrup, bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in food coloring if desired. Carefully pour hot syrup over pinwheels. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with cream, ice cream, or (what we did) whipped cream. Makes 12 pinwheels.