December 4 – Sixty! Sixty! Good grief! That seems like a lot to have written about having cancer, surgery, reconstruction and treatments. Seems like a person would run out of things to talk about after awhile!
Roof decking is done! We have a roof over the whole addition! No shingles yet, just the wood. We have to put up a huge tarp so it doesn’t leak where it joins onto our existing house and then have a nail inspection and then the tar paper/felting. The framers part is done then and Harold gets to do the shingles. Whoowee! It looks very big now! It is so exciting. Cooked lunch again for the decking crew. My famous Pizza Burgers recipe. What are pizza burgers you ask? They are so easy and I have never made them and not had people like them. Had them first when I was in high school, the school cafeteria no less! Anyway, brown a pound and a half of hamburger. Drain. Add one jar of whatever pizza sauce you like and simmer. Separate hamburger buns and place on a cookie sheet. Slightly toast the buns in a 400 degree oven. Remove from oven, pile on the pizza burger mix, top with provolone or mozzarella cheese, sprinkle with oregano and place back in the oven until the cheese melts! Ta Da! See, you never know what tidbit of info you will get in these journals! Recipe Reisa has now joined the group!
Feeling just fine today. Not tired at all. Yea! Yippee! Hooray! Once I get past those couple of days after treatment I perk right up. Am so looking forward to having another week and a half straight of feeling good! Have to have the Herceptin on Wednesday but that only takes an hour and there are no pre-meds and it doesn’t make me sick. Maybe a bit of a headache and chills that night but I am prepared this time. A friend wrote to keep the heating pad right by the bed just in case. Smart woman! I have done so and used it already once. Freezing Frieda will not be allowed to stay for any length of time!
I got a card from a friend and I must tell you what it said. There are pictures of lemons on the front and the old adage about when life hands you lemons to make lemonade. Well….when you open it up it says – “of course, sometimes life pulls down your pants, runs a power sander across your naked butt, then pours lemon juice on you raw abraded buttocks. In that case a cool citrus drink wouldn’t really help, but darn it…you’ve got to hang in there anyway!” And of course, tongue-in-cheek, she reminded me to be positive! I was drinking a Diet Coke when I was reading it and promptly spit it all over the place due to my uncontrollable laughter! I just know your day would not be complete if I hadn’t shared that with you! Laughing Lollie is joining the group much more often now.
One more and I promise I will quit! “They say you learn the most from your most difficult experiences…………..what a stupid system.” Loved that one, too!
December 5 – This is my doctor week. Saw the surgeon today and all looks just fine. Since it is the holiday season, I took him some fudge and thanked him for my excellent care and for my “perfect” scars!
Washed my hair this morning and tons came out! Enough that I have a small ball of it! Not whining here just making a statement and I even looked at it and thought, “Interesting. I wonder if I will lose that much every day?” No panic. Just an observance. Went on and did my hair and a bit more came out but it still looks fine (except I am not so keen on the “artichoke” cut. But it is a necessity right now so I will live with it.)
December 6 – Lordy! Today was the MUGA scan, forgot to ask what the letters stand for but they use the same machine as when you get a full body bone scan. Test was easy, it is the dreaded IV that they use to place the isotope mix in your veins that gives me the problem. I knew I was in trouble when she said,” Oh, and we’ve left our veins at home, have we?” My own stupid fault, too! I forgot to drink extra water and squeeze the red rubber ball for two days! Where was my brain? How could I FORGET something like that! She tried in the crook of my arm but it was a no go (another bruise there now!) and she ended up in my hand. My poor hand! The bruise is not quite gone from the surgery IV! Ole’ Weepy Wanda was keeping me company, I think she was sitting on my lap! Kerrie Kickass was nowhere in sight! Brenda Braveheart was there, patting me on the back, but she was not so effective today! The tech did get it in my hand the first try and used a butterfly with tubing instead of whatever she was going to use in my arm which would have been a larger needle. Took longer to draw the blood but that was okay by me! After they take the blood, they mix it with isotopes (what are isotopes anyway?), wait twenty minutes and then inject it back into your body and they remove the IV. Then off you go to the machine. Had to have my left arm up over my head for the first two pictures then down for the last one. You lay down on a narrow covered board and they attach (they just stick on your skin) EKG electrodes to you and attach one to the foam covering on the board (grounding me???) and then the machine positions itself at different angles to take the pictures. Whole test was only about fifteen minutes. No problem once I got past the IV!
Rest of the day was fine. We passed our nail inspection so the crew came back and put on the tarpaper/felt so we are good to go if it rains, now. Next, Harold has to do the metal flashing all around the perimeter of the new roof add the off ridge vents to the decking, get another inspection and then the shingles. Then we start installing windows and doors and then the stucco on the outside. It will be awhile before we get to the inside work but I can’t go on with my landscaping part until the stucco work is done and painted. It is so cool! This week’s photo will be of the inside of my studio!
Feeling just fine, feel like my old self! By the way, only a little hair loss today.
December 7 – Annual eye exam this morning. No problems there (how nice to have a “normal” report!) and he said that the chemo should not cause me any lasting damage, maybe some blurry vision during chemo but nothing permanent. He said the Decadron (steroid) may cause the back of the cornea or retina (can’t remember which now) to get a crusty scale on it but that is easily fixed and he saw no signs of that today. That was a relief.
This afternoon is my Herceptin only day so that should be fairly quick and then home to prepare for Jaime’s arrival! I am sure she will be quite relieved to see me feeling and looking just fine.
You know I love Brian Andreas (www.storypeople.com). My Story of the Day today was titled “Pesky Growth” and I simply must share it with you. “I finally got to exactly where I wanted to be, she said, so why won’t all these growth experiences go away and leave me alone?” Does that fit me or what!
Back from the treatment and have a sermon to give. I walked in and the nurse said, “Okay, we’ll get your labs and get you going” I asked her if I needed labs for just Herceptin and she said I was getting my whole treatment. Hang on! I told her that I had checked to be sure last week and that I had finished up three chemo treatments and this should be my off week with just Herceptin. She went off to check and I heard her talking with the other nurses so I poked my head around the corner with my date book in hand and showed them. I’m not quite sure if they gave in because I was persistent or what. I heard one of them say, “She says she got one on the 15th and that would make three and it does say, times three, so she is probably right.” ?????????????????? Probably right????? You know I will be discussing this with my doctor when I see him next week for my progress check-up! Probably? Hmmmmmmmmmmnnnpf! I was pleasant but firm – Kerrie Kickass at her very best! I will take what I have to of the chemo drugs but certainly don’t want anything extra, thank you very much! My whole week was planned around only Herceptin! So the sermon is – Be sure YOU are in charge of your treatment! Make sure you understand exactly what is supposed to happen and when it is supposed to happen. Write it down! Whoever set up the daily treatment chart for today is human and prone to errors just like anyone else. I firmly believe it is the patient’s responsibility as well as their right to know what is going on with their treatment.
I did ask about coloring my hair and the nurse said no, that you weren’t supposed to color or get a perm while on chemo. Will find out exactly why next week. Rats! Might have to go get a “broccoli” cut when my hair grows out some if it looks odd. Of course, I have seen artichokes that have reddish ends at the tips so maybe I will just keep it that way and make a fashion statement!
December 12 - I am way behind in my journal entries! Jaime came in on Wednesday and left on Saturday and it was a wonderful, whirlwind trip! Played outside Saturday afternoon and part of Sunday and was tired, in a very good way!
Saw the endocrinologist on Thursday after meeting Jennifer and her friend for lunch (bad move on my part as I had to get weighed at the doctor’s office! Oh well, it will look like I really lost weight next time I go!). Lucked out again, he is very nice and I really liked him. Only bad news it that I may have to give myself the insulin injections after all. He gave me some pills to try first, Amaryl, and I need to take a half of one fifteen minutes before I get the Decadron steroid. He said the Amaryl “squeezes” the pancreas to produce more insulin. He wants me to see if I can change the time I get my treatments to mornings so I can take readings before and after lunch and then before and after dinner to see how the medication is working. Tomorrow’s treatment is scheduled for afternoon after I see the oncologist. Dr. D (endocrinologist) feels that afternoon treatments will be harder to treat for the diabetes. He needs to see how the pills are working through two meals and with a whole day rather than just the evening meal and then bed. He started me out on a half dose to see how that works so keep your fingers crossed! Sounds like I still may have the chance to try a full dose to see if that works before I have to resort to the insulin. I REALLY, REALLY don’t want to have to do that! Jaime went with me and afterwards she was trying to put it all in perspective by figuring out how many treatments I had left, minus the ones with the pills, to see just exactly how many times I would have to inject the insulin so I would have a finite number. I think it helped, although I just don’t even want to think about it! Okay, enough of that!
On Friday Jaime and I went to see Therapist Debbie. I wanted Debbie to meet Jaime and for Jaime to meet Debbie. I figured it would be fairly social and it started out that way, but Debbie has a way of getting right to the core in a matter of minutes so it was a very enlightening session and I am so very glad we got to go. It was important enough to Debbie to meet my other daughter that she came in on her day off and opened the office just for us! I will see her again sometime this week by myself as I am really glad to have someone to unload all my “inner junk” onto! I really encourage anyone going through something like this to seek counseling, family members included, as it is such a relief to be able to talk to someone about the deep, dark, things you are feeling or even the superficial stuff that makes you crazy!
After Debbie, off we went so Jaime could get a massage from my massage therapist. It was one of her Christmas gifts and she loved it! I took a book with me but didn’t need it. Melinda is located in Dr. J’s offices (plastic surgeon) and he came out and we chatted – did I ever tell you he won First Place in Mixed Media at the art show he entered? He showed me that he has the piece and the ribbon on display in his waiting room! There was an older couple in the waiting room and after we left they asked the office manager what the piece was “supposed to be” and when Dr. J and I found that out we laughed and I told him that is why you never stand by your stuff at a show! It was a palm tree done in fused glass and was quite good and very obviously a palm tree! Jaime and I left there and went to Jen’s so she could show off her house. She has been working very hard on it and it shows. Then we all went to lunch and the companionship was great but we got a very strange waiter and he was very bizarre. Came home and I must say I was wiped out! I took a nap and was going to make a nice dinner but we weren’t hungry, Harold was, and dear man that he is, he went to Wendy’s and left the three of us curled upon our bed talking. Jaime and Jen went off shopping and I watched a little TV and went to bed. Jaime ended up spending the night with Jennifer and that was good as they had some private together time to just talk.
Saturday Jaime left and I did some yard work. Mostly cleaning up and putting down mulch in my main courtyard. Now that the roof is done with the messy part I can put mulch and plants closer to the building. We still have to shingle but that will just be picking up nails and pieces of shingles that get cut and dropped. It looks so amazing inside and out!
Sunday I went outside for awhile but then it started raining, again! It has rained since Wednesday! Came in and did some much needed paperwork! Harold is building the wall between his shop and my studio. How exciting! There is a doorway!
So, all of the last days of rambling are mostly to show that I am living a fairly normal life during this protocol. That part is certainly much better than last time.
Hair is thinned now abut one third. Still wearing my own at this point although if it continues to come out at this rate I may have to resort to the “girls” soon. I have to confess. I am saving the hair again! I can’t seem to help myself! It fascinates me! But see…………….no whining or crying – just fascination this time! Fascinated Fran is an interesting addition to the personas!
Got a very special package in the mail on Saturday. A friend sent a prayer shawl she had knitted and the message she sent along with it was very moving. She wrote that when you begin the shawl you say prayers and blessings for the recipient. Intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. When the shawl is completed a final prayer is offered before it is sent along its way. She sent along a website that has more about the process if you are interested, www.shawlministry.com It is white and lacey and will look great with my clothes. I think I will wear it to all my treatments and take along the wonderful crochet afghan another friend sent me to keep me warm. Talk about being wrapped in loving thoughts – literally!
Going off to tea today at a friend’s house, such a nice normal thing to do during the holidays!
Photo of the week is of not quite HALF of my studio. The room you see just part of in the forefront will be the den. Are you impressed?
Till next time,
Margot a.k.a. Keeper of the Perky Twins, Recipe Resia, Freezing Frieda, Laughing Lollie, Weepy Wanda, Kerrie Kickass, Brenda Braveheart and Fascinated Fran
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