Monday, June 28, 2010

A letter to my ovaries

Dear Ovaries,

I endured seven very painful shots in my bum. I've been suffering through hot flash after hot flash, creaky bones and joints, and I won't even mention where else I had pain. All to protect you from the negative effects of chemo. You got to rest for a LONG while!

It's time to wake up now. I can tell that you're getting there because of all of the lovely pimples that dot my face. Not very nice of you to tease me with hormonal acne and still bring on the hot flashes...I can do one or the other, but NOT BOTH!!!!

I promise that I'll never complain about cramps or irritability again, but I need you to do your job now, mmmmkay?


Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Alexander Day

You remember Alexander, right? You know, as in "The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" Alexander? Well I sure had myself an Alexander day this week. It started out good, then went to crap in a hurry.

My first appointment was with my plastic surgeon's office for my last tissue expander fill. I was proud of myself for getting up and out of the house early enough to beat the traffic and make it with enough time to spare for a Starbucks stop. I'd been going on Tuesdays and Fridays for the past three weeks to get all filled up before starting radiation, and even with all that filling, have done amazingly well. My oncologist warned me that fills can be very uncomfortable, and except for my first one, I really haven't had much trouble with it at all. Until the last one. It hurt while the doc was filling it. It hurt afterward. I decided to live with it thinking that the pain and tightness would subside quickly like had been the case with all the other fills.

I had a couple of hours to pass until my next appointment, and decided to stop by a French bakery in Ballard for a croissant and to pick up some of their lavender macrons for my purple-loving friend. I drove 15 minutes out of my way only to find that the bakery was closed that day. Boo. Meanwhile, my chest was starting to hurt so badly that the pain was radiating down my arm.

Speaking of next appointment that day was my radiation simulation. I had to lay on a CT scanner bed with my arms over my head with a very warm plastic-encased chemical mixture below me to make an imprint of my upper body in that position. I'm honestly not sure which was worse...the pain in my arms in that position or laying on that hot liquid while having a hot flash! The wonderful experience was topped off by me getting four pinprick tattoos on my chest for the radiation techs to use as reference points, like my scarred chest is some kind of map.

Finally I was done. I was shaking afterward because my chest and right arm hurt so badly. In fact, I could only use my left hand to back the car out of the tight spot in the parking garage. I was so busy paying attention to not hitting the car illegally parked behind me that I ran right into a concrete post with our 6-month new car! At this point, I was beyond frustrated. I even had to call the security guard to come help me get the car away from the post. It was all I could do, emotionally and physically, to drive myself home. I felt so horrible for dinging up our brand-new car. Of course, Brian handled it really well, which made me feel slightly better.

After my rough day, I really needed a good night of sleep, especially since I had an important conference at work the next day. Didn't happen. I tossed and turned with pain until Brian's alarm went off. When I realized that I'd never make it through the conference, I took some serious pain meds, emailed my boss, and crashed.

I toughed through the pain, and it finally subsided. We got the estimate for the car, and will pay our deductible to have it fixed. I can think of a lot of other things I would have rather spent that money on, but it's important to me to do the repairs, especially since it still has that new car smell.

That is the great thing about bad days...they always end, and rarely ever is the damage permanent.

Tomorrow's looking up!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

310 cc's !!!!

I went in for another fill yesterday...I'm now up to 310 cc's of saline in each side. I have one more fill on Tuesday, which should bring me up to 370 cc's. At this point, I actually look like I have honest to goodness's fantastic, and amazing to me that four weeks ago, my chest was as flat as a board! I'll probably end up being just a bit smaller than my natural size, but fuller and perkier. These are two wonderful qualities as I venture into my 30s, when gravity would normally start taking its toll (there's a silver lining to everything, right?!)

After my last fill on Tuesday, I'm going straight to SCCA for my radiation simulation. During this appointment, I'll have a chest CT, which will be sent to mathematicians and physicists to calculate the exact vectors needed to zap all of the right places. I'll have a mold made of my upper body and several pinpoint tattoos on my chest so that I can be lined up on the table exactly in the same position every day. I will probably start radiation a week following that appointment.

The other big news is that I'm finally heading back to work. I've been on medical leave since my diagnosis nine months ago. While it's been very nice to have been able to rest and recover from my chemo and surgery (and I'm incredibly grateful for that time off,) I'm ready to get back. I will be turning over with the training officer there and supervising the training cycles of three of the ships in Everett...essentially the same thing I was doing at my two jobs in Hawaii, so a perfect fit for me! The plan is to work mornings during radiation, and then go to full days once radiation is over. I was honestly worried that I would become a paper-pusher doing a lot of administrative tasking, so I'm actually really glad that I'm able to provide a badly-needed skill set in the office.

It's a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest, so I'm off to enjoy it!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

I've been a bad blogger

The combination of a really busy late May/early June and playing the waiting game for radiation has resulted in a very neglected blog!

My big accomplishment in the past week was achieving full range of motion on my right arm. My left side recovered quickly after surgery, but my right side (my affected side where I had my lymph nodes removed and I developed axillary web syndrome) was really tight. I've been going to physical therapy to increase my strength and range of motion, and during my third session I was able to get my right arm to 180 degrees!

I've also been visiting my plastic surgeon for saline fills of my tissue expanders (temporary implants.) So far I have 190 cc's in each implant. It's pretty cool to watch my chest expand before my eyes, and I now have noticeable bumps! Of course, I have a ways to go before I'm to where I'd like to be (probably around 350 cc's). The goal is to be completely filled before starting radiation, which is right around the corner. Because radiation is damaging to tissue, it's difficult to expand further following radiation as the skin loses its elasticity.

I'm 10 weeks past my last chemo hair is growing back in full force (I actually get tons of compliments on it), and finally have some respectable eyebrows and eyelashes (thank you, Latisse!!!)

Hope you're all well--