Adventures in chemo… the final saga!

We had really hoped that the “Adventures in Chemo” were over!  It’s turned out that three days after Patty’s infusion is her wost day.  So, she has her chemo every 21 days on a Tuesday and we can expect the worst on that following Friday.  This came true to form… again! 

Patty got up yesterday morning feeling ok.  Not great, but ok.  I had taken the day off from work expecting a potential problem.  She slept in late getting up after 10 a.m.  She had some oatmeal for breakfast and I made her a protein shake as a breakfast chaser.  I’ve realized that I’m turning into the “caretaker from hell.”  I’m all over her to make sure she drinking plenty of fluids and at least two protein shakes during the day.  My goal is to keep her hydrated and push as many calories into her as I can.  She’s a good patient and doesn’t complain too much.  Anyway, yesterday was going pretty well.  You could see she was pretty fatigued but she parked herself on the couch and we put on a movie.  Half way through the movie patty said she needed to go to the bathroom.  Ok… from past experience, I KNOW this is not good on “day three!”  I wish we could just put off any bathroom runs for one day, but Mother Nature doesn’t see things this way.  If you recall, last time I ended up removing the bathroom door because she kept fainting in the bathroom and lodging herself against the door and I couldn’t get in.  This time she promised to keep the door open.  So, off we went to the bathroom.  I stood out-of-sight outside the bathroom and let her do what she needed to do in “somewhat” of a private setting.  Not 15 seconds passed and I heard that oh so familiar “thump!”  I looked in and there was poor Patty on the floor!  Like in earlier posts, I won’t get into any details other than she had passed out and hit her head on the bathtub opening the incision on her forehead from weeks prior!!!  So, here we go again, back to urgent care.  Once there, the doctor took great care of her.  They immediately hooked her up to an IV which brought life and color back into her immediately. The poor thing had a pretty good goose egg on her forehead which she said hurt as well as she said her neck and shoulder hurt from the fall.  The doctor put a little “something special” into her IV which immediately took away any pain!  He then stitched up her forehead (only 9 stitches this time instead of 10) and we were on our way.  We only spent three hours at Urgent Care which was in and out in record time!

Patty had a good night sleep last night!  She needed the rest.  Today, she’s feeling pretty good.  Nowhere close to 100%, may 60% at best.  But, compared to yesterday, she’s feeling really good!

“Adventures in Chemo” as just that!  We kind of know what to expect, but it’s the “surprise in every package” that keeps us on our toes.  I thank God that this is it.  No future chemo’s mean no future bumps and knocks to her head!  Sometimes I ask myself: “Is chemo a friend or foe?”  I guess it’s both!

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No-Mo-chemo!

She made it!!!  Yes, she made it!!!  December 14th… the day we’ve been looking forward to for what seemed like an eternity, finally came!  Patty’s 6th and final chemo infusion!  What a big day for Patty!

Patty told me she was a little nervous this time around.  Nervous about how the side effects were going to be.  We had both been fighting colds the past week… hey, the family that has colds together… (can’t think of an appropriate ending for that phrase right now.)  We were both a little concerned that her cold could interfere with this last infusion.  We met with our Oncologist at 9:30 a.m. and everything from her blood work looked great!  She had the green light for this last treatment.  Everyone in the Oncologist’s office were so excited that this was Patty’s last treatment!

The infusion was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and everything went smooth as possible.  You could tell that Margarita, our oncology nurse, was happy for Patty but also sad in the same sense that this was the end of our dealing with her.  We’re hoping to stay connected with her in the future! 

I couldn’t let this day go by without some recognition.  Her last chemo was just too big to let slip through the cracks!  So, over the past week or so, I’ve been sending emails and calling friends and family to come over and help celebrate this big day.  Nicole helped me arrange a surprise party for Patty.  nothing too big, but just close friends and family.  Like I said, Patty’s infusion started on time.  I waited about 15 minutes then made up some lame excuse to leave for a short while.  (I said I had to return a cable box to the company before we got charged for it.)  So I flew home.  I stopped by Party Plus and picked up some pink balloons and pink streamers etc.  Once home I zoomed around decorating the condo.  I should have taken a picture of it, it turned out pretty good!  I then zoomed back to the hospital within a short time.  (Wow… a lot of zooming going on!)  Patty’s treatment ended around 1:30.  I had told everyone to be at our house by 1:45.  It was great!  We got home around 2:00.  Patty had no clue that our friends and family were inside.  I opened the door… I had a “Congratulations” sign just inside with balloons around it.  Patty saw the sign and said “Oh how sweet!”  then everyone jumped from their hiding place yelling “Surprise!!!”  It was awesome.  Patty was very touched that everyone came to congratulate her!  She loved it.  We had 14 people crammed into our little place… it was perfect!

So, she made it!  No more chemo!  What a milestone and this woman of mine did such a great job going through it.  I’m so proud of her!   We’re going to have a challenge from the side effects for the next two weeks or so.  Then after that… she’ll get stronger and stronger.  Her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows will begin to grow back.  Yesterday represented a day that marked the beginning of our new life!  We’re both excited to bring in 2011 because it’s going to be such a great new year for us! 

This morning when I left for work, Patty was still in bed.  I leaned over to give her a kiss and she was crying.  I asked if those were good tears or bad tears.  She said they were good tears!  Good tears because she’s done with her treatments and has so much to look forward to in the future!!!

  Another “Mirror Message.”  It’s a little hard to read but it says:

                “You did it!”

           “No-Mo-Chemo!”

Only two more to go!

    Here’s that smiling face getting chemo number four!!!  It’s hard to see, but if you look closely you can see a pink sticker on the left side of her chest… it’s a sticker that our granddaughter, Mia, gave Patty to keep her brave during her treatments!  Patty wears the stickers every time!

Another week has passed!  That means one week closer to getting through the chemo.  In fact, as of today we have six weeks to go! 

Ok… today was chemo #4!  Two more to go!  You can look at the time left however you’d like… 6 weeks… or 42 days… or roughly 1008 hours… or, we can take it a step further… roughly 60,480 minutes… you get the point.  Obviously, we’re excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that dim light is getting brighter! 

Patty had her chemo today and, as with past infusions, it went as smooth as possible.  Before going through this journey, I hadn’t given the “infusion” much thought.  But yesterday, while we were in the chemo room and Patty was getting her infusion, it dawned on me that the actual “treatment” atmosphere was very relaxing.  One would think that the room and experience would be a total downer, but it’s anything but that!  Bright… a lot of windows and everyone that works there is so upbeat!  Yesterday the room was packed!  Standing room only!  There must have been 20 people getting their infusion when we got there!  On one hand it’s sad to see so many people going through this with every cancer imaginable, but it’s good to see they’re getting the best treatment the

This was a fairly “normal” week for us.  Patty keeps getting stronger day by day.  She really tries to take advantage of those good days.  I was impressed this week when she went to Jazzercise twice!  I don’t know how she did it, but she did.  The women at Jazzercise who know her were really excited to see her back!  She still hits the wall about 2 or 3 in the afternoon and is pretty much down for the remainder of the day.  I do have to say that Patty’s really a trooper.  She tries to go longer, but it’s pretty easy to see when she’s “done.”  We  went to a memorial this past week for a friend of mine who passed away.  The memorial was in the evening so patty rested most of the day so she’d have the energy to go.  She did really well and lasted until around 7 p.m. then it was time to go. 

It’s pretty crazy how your life goes on hold when cancer comes into your life.  When I say “on hold” I mean on hold!  When we first moved back to town, we figured we’d live in the 708 sq. ft. condo for a couple of months to get settled then start looking for a larger place.  We just started looking when cancer decided to pay us a visit.  We thought it’d be smart to put house hunting “on hold” until we got through this.  So we’re living on top of each other for the time being.  (Hey… it’s working!)  We normally take some type of vacation during the summer…. on hold.  Any of you who know us know that we LOVE to cook and love our wine!  “On hold!”  We LOVE going out to different events… street fairs… live music… Charger games… “on hold!”  It’s hard to make plans to do things because we’re not sure how Patty will be feeling.  Please don’t think that I’m complaining… Patty and I have talked about this a lot.  It is what it is… we’ll make up for lost time when we’re through this stage of the fight.  We realize that we’ll never be through this… there will be CT scans every three to six months for years to come. 

A good thing about this week is that Patty’s “taster” has come back!  That means we get to have “real food!”  We actually went out to dinner the other night!  What a treat!  When Patty’s taster comes back, she eats really well.  She’s lost so much weight throughout this journey!  I never thought I’d live to see the day when I’d hear Patty say: “I got on the scale this morning and I gained a pound!”  And be excited about it!  Damn… just when I think I’ve got her figured out!

So, four treatments down and two to go!

Chemo part II, coming to a theatre near you!

(Here’s Patty and our good friend Sandi taken during the summer of 2008)

Well today is the day for Patty’s second chemo infusion.  Only four more after today.  These past three weeks have been a learning experience for both of us.  Patty’s been taking notes every day since the last treatment to keep a record of how she was feeling… what foods tasted good to her etc.  We have a record, but we’re hearing that the outcome of each treatment is different.  We’ll soon find out. 

Food was an issue during the first two weeks following the last treatment. We’ve read and heard that you’ll have this metalic taste in your mouth following treatment.  Patty says that’s not true.  She says everything taste like cardboard with a little wallpaper glue aftertaste!  Not good at all.  She craved certain foods, but nothing tasted good to her.  Bread taste the same as meat, which taste the same as broccoli, which taste the same as turkey, which taste the same as Cherios, which taste the same as pasta… then if you add cheese or butter to the mix?   It comes out of her mouth as fast as it went in!   Not good at all!   As long as I’ve known Patty, she’s never been a big fan of rice.  Suddenly, rice is her best friend during chemo!  Just plain white rice.  No butter, no nothng.  (Don’t tell her but I make it with either chicken broth or vegetable broth hoping it gives her some nutrients!)  It seems to work for her.  We did realize that her “taster” slowly came back after two weeks so she’s been eating pretty well this past week.

Nauesa?  She experience a little nausea during the first couple of weeks.  The doctors pump her full of nausea medication the day before, day of and a few days following her infusion.  It seemed to get a handle on it.  Then if she had any feelings of nausea coming on she had med’s she could take.  Overall she did really well.

Fatigue?  Tons!  We found the first three days following her infusion were really good.  No fatigue whatsoever.  In fact she was on the treadmill those days.  But the fourth day???  Wham!  It hit and lasted pretty strong for 4 days.  I’m sure we can expect the same this time, probably more.  The doctor and nurses have said the chemo is a cumulative thing where the side effects lengthen after each infusion.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  A friend of ours who is currently going through her 2nd round of chemo told us that her first infusion was the worst and subsequent ones have not been bad at all.  Everyone is different.

Patty had her bloodwork done yesterday.  This is to test her white cell count to make sure it’s back up to normal.  Chemo has a tendency to kill off white blood cells which are the cells that fight off infection etc.  Hopefully those white cells have regenerated.  If so, we’re on for chemo today.  If not, they’ll have to postpone it for a week.  We meet with the Oncologist today at 11:45 a.m. to find out.  Hopefully it’s a “Go!”  We don’t want to delay any of this chemo.  Let’s do it and get it overwith!  Chemo is tentatively scheduled for today at 1:00 p.m.

Bottom line… We’ve learned from this last infusion that the side effects are pretty strong for the first two weeks.  She’s pretty much back to normal the third week.  Not much fatigue, no nausea and food taste good!  Overall she is doing well.  Just in time to do it all over again!

I’ll let you know how things go today!