Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Chew Chew Chews You

Thanks to a colleague at work and suggestion from my training partner, weird taste in my mouth has been abated by Ginger Chews and cinnamon gum. I have 2 lbs (yes pounds) of ginger chews, thanks to Amazon, that I am slowly working my way through. Lesson learned, more than 4 in a day = tummy ache. 

Energy level is good and I am sleeping somewhere between 9 to 10 hours a night (not straight but total). My hair is growing and falling out at equal rates currently and my house is littered with my tiny hairs (and the back of my lab coat at work).

Running is on the bill for the weekend as well as trying to stay awake past 8 pm at night. We'll see how either goes.

Currently the video and song below are making me really happy:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Like Water but Slightly Thicker and with Pennies in It

Over the nuelasta hump (hopefully). No headaches again. Plenty of body aches, for me it really seems to be located in the rib cage, upper back, jaw area. Heating pad was key. Thanksgiving was nice with just my parents and food was good too. Seriously, seriously obsessed with mashed potatoes. I believe at one point I discussed how outstanding they were for 5 minutes straight.

Thanksgiving evening however, my body (which seems to be its own entity) did not want to sleep. After about 4 hours of sleep, I was awake for the day at 12:30 am. As I was staying at my parents for the holiday my mother found me around 4 am spewing all sorts of venom for the lack of sleep and being able to hear my father snoring. Clearly, I was still in the relaxed holiday mood I had gone to bed in. This would be the first time of the day she would try to convince me that maybe going to work was not the best plan. Defiantly I got into the shower and insisted that we go do our annual Black Friday shopping first and then I was going to work for the whole day.

1 shower, 1 fire alarm (malfunction in the building) and some breakfast later, my mother made attempt number 2 to convince me not to go to work. I think my lack of coloring and attempting to sleep in my bowl of cereal had something to do with it. I insisted I was as fine as I was going to be and that I was just feeling tired and weird. We went to the mall next to my work at 5:50 am, did one monster of a powershop (Christmas shopping basically done) and I was at work by 7:15 am. At this point, mom had talked me down to being picked up at 2 pm and gave one more try at just calling in sick after becoming easily confused by trying to pick out holiday hand soap. In my defense there were a lot of hand soap choices.

At work I realized I was a little dehydrated and quickly drank 1.5L of water hoping that would help with tiredness. Water at this point tastes a little thick and metallic. I have never been much of a "sipper" but I definitely now chug any beverage just to avoid tasting it. I moved like molasses and after 5 hours of work decided (under the encouragement of my coworkers and mother) to go home. Apparently 3.5 hours of sleep after a neulasta shot while on chemo is not conducive to feeling well. Someday I will learn to listen to other people, but who I am kidding probably not.

Since then, sleep has gradually been increasing. I have been waking up at 12:30 am every night since I started chemo and most of the time can go back to sleep (like last night) but sometimes I am a awake for a couple of hours before going back to sleep. Last night I slept for 10 hours. Yay!

Major side affect of chemo I am dealing with right now is a constant, yucky metal taste in my mouth. Cinnamon gum, cinnamon cereal, baking soda mouth washes help, but nothing currently relieves the taste. Yesterday, I went to CVS and thought well if cinnamon gum is good, lets find something sugar free (don't want cavities) to suck on to relieve the taste. Guess what? CVS does not make "Sugar Free Metallic Taste Relief Lozenges" . They do make sugar free, made with trans fat cinnamon melt-aways (didn't appeal to me) and so-much-sugar-alcohol-they-should-be-in-the-laxative-section Root Beer Barrels (um, no thanks). What did appeal to me were Atomic Fireballs. I left CVS triumphant. These were going to cure the metallic taste. I promptly put one in mouth and for the first time since starting chemo really, really wanted to throw up. Now, a regular human being would do the obvious and spit it out, but not this genius. I decided that maybe it would get better and if I suffered through the first 2 minutes of a fireball it might still work and I could want to throw up for 2 minutes every couple of hour. Yes, that seems normal. Well, end result was I made myself want to throw up for the entire fireball and it seemed to only make the metallic taste worse. I can't do peppermint or spearmint as they make my heartburn worse, but I bought some fresh ginger root to make some ginger broth with so we'll see how that works. In the meantime I bet this kid can relate to the taste:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lots of Thanks for this Thanksgiving!

This year I am thankful for a world full of loving, supportive people. I am thankful for my family and the amount of driving back and forth, weird requests and unconditional love they provide. I am thankful for the level of crankiness they can withstand. I am thankful for all my friends and how I always knew they were awesome people, but know I can give concrete examples to the world that they are the best ever. I am thankful for their continued support of my twisted sense of humor. I have corkboards on my wall and when this adventure began started filling them up. Well, I had to double them in size and they are covered in well wishes.  I am thankful for all the new people that Cancer has brought into my life. Although I wish that none of us had this shared journey it is comforting to know that they have made it though and are routing for me.

I am thankful for modern medicine and early detection methods. I am thankful for clean PET scans and false MRI reports. I am thankful that 3 Chemo infusions are done, and I am mostly through 3 nuelasta shots (in case the above ramblings did not make clear, feeling a little fuzzy this am). I am thankful I am healed (with scars) from surgery and that if all else goes well about 12 weeks away from being done with the Triple Crown.

Today I am thankful for my mom's mashed potatoes. I already had to ask her not to let me attempt to eat all 5 lbs of them. Despite recent taste changes, they still will taste delicious.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Human Pincushion, Chemo Infusion #3 complete

Well, my mother and I jinxed ourselves on the way in today. Hey there is no impeding snowstorm or hurricane, this will be easy as pie (Thanksgiving on the brain). Well, my veins did not cooperate. One of the nurses it was her first day at the hospital and they all thought, hey lets give her the young one with good veins. Well my good veins are a little upset with the Taxotere (a known irritant) and after she tried to get the vein (which most most unpleasant and in my roid rage I told her so "Yeah, so that does not feel ok") for a few minutes and you could see the bruise forming. Her preceptor came over bearing hot towels and two more veins were tried by her. No success. More hot towels and the nurse who is the best stick in the unit came over and couldn't get the fourth stick to go. We were one stick away from having to call in the IV team (and now 45 minutes delayed from my infusion start). I had all sorts of gauze taped to me and 4 new bruises.  Then the 5th time was a charm, finally got a vein that wasn't so pissed off that it collapsed and had good blood return! Yay (and ouch). Otherwise, infusion went well. For the visual learners this is what it looks like:

The bear was a big hit. The volunteers who bring around lunch were obsessed with him. One had picked him up and was talking too him She asked me if I needed anything and I asked if they had any honey. She straight face looks at me and asks "For the bear?". I laughed, I said no for my yogurt. Another light moment in the day was when my head got cold and I put my sock monkey hat on. My oncologist came to check in. She took one look at me and just laughed. It's apparently really hard to take me serious when I have that hat on. The volunteers decided that officially made me the Cutest Patient of the Day. I'll take it. 

Factoids from the day: Weight is stable. Up 0.7lbs. Hematocrit and hemoglobin were slightly decreased, but ok. My blood sugar level was improved down to 137 mg/dL. The only item that was low was my bicarb. However, given the stomach bug from the previous Saturday not unexpected. But, everything looks good. Got the "really" look when I did tell the Oncologist that I didn't take anytime off last week despite being tired. Oops

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We Jammin'

Stomach bug resolved. Confirmed with the oncologist definitely not chemo related. Happily I was able to work a full week and more importantly (for my sanity) got two whole runs in. I have never been a "pretty" runner, but these are especially ugly runs. I feel like I am running in my sleep which always seems to be going through molasses. They look probably worse than this:

In my new life as a hermit I have difficulty staying awake past 7:30 pm at night. So I sleep for a minimum of 8 hours a night. However, I have had some really bizarre dreams. One night I dreamt that one of my colleagues was on American Idol and I conspired with Simon Cowell (yes I am aware he is not on the show) to get her kicked off because work was too busy. However, last nights dream was really something special. In the dream I had dreadlocks (yup) and carried around a British bulldog on some hot Island country. I know the bulldog was British because I made a point to tell everyone (in real life I have no idea what the difference is between bulldogs). I woke up singing Bob Marley. At least this was a happy dream, and I enjoyed the steel drum soundtrack.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I forget sometimes

I forget sometimes that my immune system may not be what it has always been. I forget sometimes that because of chemotherapy I shouldn't eat food at gatherings that other peoples hands may have touched. I forget that because I feel so well I don't have to meticulously watch these things. I am reminded when I have to spend all of Saturday morning in the bathroom because of a slight food borne illness. I am reminded when I have to cancel dinner plans and a run with friends.

I forget sometimes that my cardiovascular system is not in the shape it usually is. I forget sometimes that I shouldn't run after the bus when the MBTA is late pulling into the station. I forget that I shouldn't run the 300 m with two flights of stairs all out and the 50 m to catch the bus that has pulled out of the stop. I am reminded when it takes me the entire 30 minute bus ride to catch my breath. I am reminded when after I feel like I have done 6x400 m at sub 70 pace (jello legs). 

I forget sometimes that I am bald. I am reminded with any shiny surface where I can see my current speed stripe (where I used part my hair all of the peach fuzz has fallen out).

I am reminded that I am kickin' cancers ass and that it's only a matter of time until I can do all these things again. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Teddy Bear

Yesterday, I got to meet one of the nurses that my colleagues in the MICU put me in contact with. Via e-mail and reading her blog I have been able to communicate with someone who knows exactly what I am going through. She's in her 30s and finishing up her treatment. Its nice to read about shared experiences (like struggling with acne while losing your hair, thanks Chemo!), but it has also put into perspective my own experience. She was diagnosed while on active military service. Can't even imagine going though this whole experience and having it start in another country. She's a total rock star. It was great to put a face to the name.

She came bearing gifts (couldn't resist). Above is the Traveling Teddy Bear and she brought him to pass along to me while I go through treatment. Mr. Bear is holding in his hand a tissue (right paw). On the tissue there are two names; one for each of the nurses in the MICU who have had breast cancer and successfully completed treatment. Eventually, I will be able to put my name on the tissue. In a perfect world there would be no one else to pass him onto, but in the meantime he has taken up residence on my couch. He enjoys it much better than riding the bus. However, if you are ever in need of having a seat to yourself on a bus ride it bald while holding a Teddy bear. People just run away. Either way his presence makes me smile and gives me hope; not a bad combination. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to care for your peach fuzz

 Feeling pretty good. Did some baking this weekend. For me baking involves putting on music and dancing around while, in this case, making muffins. Went for a run this morning. Not pretty. About 6 minutes in I decided to turn around at the end of the street. Ran for a total of 14 minutes and it did not feel good. But, happy I at least ran.

Below are some post run photos. Left is my sweet hot pink running jacket, middle is me having fun with my sock monkey hat (new facebook profile photo?) and right is my under layer. It's the freshly delivered shirt from my brother and his fiance. It's a copy of the shirt they race the Susan G Komen 5K in.

From looking at the above photos, I am sure you are curious as to how I take such great care of my peach fuzz. The answer: Johnson's baby shampoo. It has totally calmed my scalp for the time being. This week is a hair growth week and then next week is a hair loss week (or so that is how the last cycle went).

Side Effects
I continue to have some weird taste changes and right now I am having severe heartburn. I was told that the chemo can increase heartburn and as I had chronic heartburn before chemo I knew it was a matter of time. I think it should really be called Tummy Burn as when my reflux is really bad everything burns. However, not holding me back from eating. Given the increase in weird taste in my mouth my grocery shopping was a little weird this week. My father says my cart does not look like a dietitian's (frozen fruit, fresh fruit and veggies aside) as I am seemingly obsessed with herb cheese and popchips right now.Also, eggs are great tasting. Good thing a side effect of the hormone therapy I'll eventually be on is decreased cholesterol!

As Ralph says "They taste like burning". 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nuelasta making me feel like crappa

Felt great all day Tuesday and then got the WBC booster shot. Still burned on the way in. Then yesterday I took the day off and made the most of it, the way Rip Van Winkle does. I basically slept off an on for 36 hours with a couple bowls of cereal and half and sandwich thrown in for good measure. Heating pads (and my new heated mattress pad) got me through yesterday. My shoulders are sore and I can count my ribs without touching them (thanks Nuelasta!), but I was able to go to work and work the entire day (and teach a student). The best way I can describe the way the shot makes you feel is fuzzy. Your a little slow moving, but still there just under a couple of layers.

The daily interactions with people secondary to my baldness are always pleasant and interesting and seem to be increasing in frequency. But, I think this is just selection bias. While doing a low fat diet education for a patient in with pancreatitis she took her wig off and asked where in my chemo I was. We briefly discussed hair loss. She complimented me on my nice shaped head and promised to follow her diet.