Archive | May 2014

ER…

Ready for my third Chemo.  As always, I see the nurse first and then Dr. Stone before going into chemo.

Dr. Stone went through my blood work and asked me about how the past two weeks had been. Side effects etc?  At the end she said “Questions?” I said “Not really…” and I pretty much repeated what we had said… and I must have added “I have like a slight discomfort when I take a deep breath on my right side…like the breast bone area…” and she said “Where?” I said “Like under my clavicle bone, down a little to the right…my kind-of breast bone” She started asking 1000 questions…and then she said “The reason I’m asking all these questions is because the (adriamycin) chemo your receiving could cause blood clot, it could also affect your heart. I want to rule out all these possible side effects before you do your next chemo…” She continued “If you were a patient who complained a lot, I would maybe discard this, but you’re like this stoic Swedish person who does not complain at all, but when you do – I listen!”

I said “Oh, it’s probably nothing…” (Thinking ‘shit’ why did I open my big mouth…the discomfort is probably from walking the dogs…or painting…or typing…or…argh!!!)

She said “Just wait…I’ll be right back!” She left and came back after a few minutes. She sat down and looked into my eyes and said “I talked to another Doctor, just to get a second opinion, and we both agree that we have to rule out what it could be…So, I’m going to send you down to…ER…” (The look in her face was like “I’m so sorry- I’m so sorry- I’m so sorry-face”)

I said “SHIT!”

She said “Yes, shit!”

She said “I’m going to call ER and tell them you’re on your way, and I want them to do a Cat Scan and Cardio gram…then we’ll go from there. We have to rule out the risk for a blood clot in your lungs and any heart issue…”

I said “You’re no fun…” (Of course, at the same time, I knew this was the right thing to so…but how much fun is it to be sent to ER??? In my mind I pictures long waiting time, people running around, beds with “sick people”, noisy, and TRAUMA…people with gunshot wounds…blood on the floor…kind of… *smiling*…)

It was a freaking loooong walk to ER (one minute)…I checked in (still thinking it was going to take forever!) We sat down (aunt Gunilla was with me) and almost as soon as I sat down they called my name (or something similar to my name…like Filipina…) that was quick! It was the triage nurse who needed to do some test…Then back to the waiting room (now – for sure – here comes the loooong waiting time!) But, no! I got called just a few minutes later.

I had to change to the blue hospital gown, and got hooked up to the machines (heart and blood pressure); they put in an IV and drew some blood (of course)…I think I had 4 people in the room at the same time, doing different things, but asking me the same thing…”What happened?”

So many things went through my head at this time…one thought could not be finished, before another one started…Blood clot in my lungs? Heart issue? The delay with Chemo…What will happen now?

In comes a tall bald guy with blue eyes…I was wondering if we had the same barber? But most likely NOT! He was the ER doctor. He asked “What happened?” Seriously, when you have answered that question 4 to 5  times already within the last hour…you (or I) feel like answering something like “I swallowed a piece of LEGO…” but I didn’t!

It turned out that this Doctor was very nice and had humor! ME LIKE! He even advised me to have a glass of wine tonight. ME LIKE!

Three hours later (after Cat Scan and blood test) the results had come back. They were all NEGATIVE!  Woohoo! The ER Doctor could discharge me, but not before he told me about his mother who had been through breast cancer, and was now three years healthy. Congrats!

(Just one more heart test (an ECO gram) before I can continue with my Chemo).

One experience richer!

 

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This entry was posted on May 30, 2014. 2 Comments

An Angel?

When I was walking my dogs in the park today,  I saw from far away, a tall, slender guy running. He was coming towards us…It looked so effortless when he was running. Like a Gazelle…Scwhishhh…Scwishhh…

He came closer and I saw he had weights around his ankles…It still looked so effortless!

He came closer, and he had the biggest most beautiful smile I have ever seen on his face, and he said “Good Morning!” and he dragged out the good and morning…I could feel he really meant it! (It felt so good!)

I smiled back and said “Good Morning” to this Smiling Gazelle…

I continued walking and after a while we met again…He came closer, and I could see he had taken off his ankle weights. Now he was free from the weights and his step was like he was floating

With his infectious, beautiful smile he said “We meet again!”

I said “You got rid of your weights…Now you can fly!”

He said “Yes, I can fly!”

I think I just met an Angel in disguise…

 

This entry was posted on May 28, 2014. 8 Comments

Bald…

Bald – definition:  Having little or no hair on the scalp: a bald head; a bald person.

It’s a weird feeling!

After being shaved and touching my head for the first time – It felt like…like… A BALD HEAD! What a surprise! Right?!?!?  Actually – it felt like a hairless dog. A hairless dog’s skin…

Right after getting shaved I took a shower, and in the shower it hit me. I truly realized deep in my gut… the loss…And I cried! A good “shower cry”! I was a sad! It was a cry having to accept the situation. A cry for identity loss…

No magic pill was going to fix this. No glue in the world could help me…

There is no way out of this. There is only one way – and that is TROUGH IT!

After balling my eyes out for a few minutes, I sobered up and thought of “TODAY” (a poem written by Kristone) –

“TODAY – This is the beginning of a new day (even though this was in the afternoon…). I’ve been given this day to use as I will. I can waste it (= hang- on to being Yoda)…or use it for good (realizing I have to embrace every step of the way). But what I can do today is more important because – I’m exchanging a day of my life for it (My life – My Journey). When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever… (Capture this day! Capture and celebrate the hair loss. It’s actually one more step closer to getting healed and healthy)” The verse doesn’t end there, but this was as much as I could remember.

After my “talk to myself” in the shower…A good talk. A bit sobering if you will…it meant I have to step up to the plate in life, and play it wholeheartedly. This is it!

 “Mirror, mirror on the wall – Who is the fairest of them all?”

I had to look in the mirror (hairless dog skin and all ;o) …look myself  in the eye…check my flawless scalp (!) my Bayer-white head…and say “I LOVE YOU! I really do! You are the fairest of them all!”

Life is good and Life goes on…

You know I got a wig – right? I realized it’s not “my thing”…This is what happened; I put it on one day and went outside in the back yard. Just to get the feel for it… It was windy and the air blew through the wig kind-of nicely…Refreshing! When I came in again I looked like a (freaking) Troll! The hair was all over the place…of course I couldn’t feel it. I wasn’t my hair. If it was my hair I could “fix it”…You know how you automatically fix your hair with your hands? But it was a wig…I felt nothing!

One more thing – from the ‘get go’ – I felt that a wig was (most likely) not “my thing”….I have heard of a lot of people choosing to wear a wig. And that’s great! Their choice! For me it was more like “Why hide what’s going on?” To me it’s an inner acceptance. A time in my life I want to embrace. And TO ME wearing a wig feels like hiding. I have chosen to wear scarfs and hats (and Yes! I do have my favorite hat already)

Not saying it’s been easy to figure this out…There is a first time for everything! After this – I decided it was time to venture out…To do some grocery shopping or something…To get out of the neighborhood. Seriously – I was a little nervous…Will people stare? Will they treat me differently? Will they avoid me or not? Start running the other way? LOL! Will I scare them?

My target was PUBLIX (grocery store) on a Saturday…Midday! Brave! I know ;o)

In the car on the way there I changed my mind…I was going to be super brave and go to… guess…guess…guess…TA DAAAA – C O S T C O – on a Saturday,  mind you! (Super crowded)

That was brave, but also sooo stupid! COSTCO! On a Saturday… before Memorial Day!?!?! What was I thinking??? While at COSTCO I had to call Brian and tell him (he was fishing in the Key’s) He answered and said his usual phrase “What’s up?” I whispered “I’m at Costco! My first time as a bald woman…and can you believe it I went to Costco?” I could hear him smiling and he said “Are you crazy…On a Saturday?”

I did it! And I survived (both my new bald-self-life and the crowds!) I survived because I had one thing in mind… MY REWARD:  

Soft Ice Cream Vanilla Sunday with warm strawberries on top! Mmmm good!

(…and $200.00 later…)

Going bald…

(This blog should actually have been posted about 10 days ago…but it was a few things happening at the same time…)

The morning of May 13th, two days before my second chemo, I came home from walking the dogs. I was sweaty and needed to shower before picking up Jane at the airport. I walked into the bathroom, turned on the shower. Took of my hat…and you all know how funny you look after wearing a hat… HAT HEAD!   I pulled my fingers through my hair… and big chunks of hair got stuck between my fingers…I looked at it…oh no…(actually “OH NOOOO!”.  Capital and bold!)  My heart sank… My first thought was “Shit! Here we go!”…

I knew it was going to happen…but still…When you get a chunk of hair in your hand and you don’t feel anything…like; Its dead… I couldn’t even feel it being pulled from my scalp. I looked in the mirror and grabbed a small chunk of hair between my fingers….just to try it… and pulled…It came of like nothing. I didn’t even feel it being pulled!  Heavy sigh…Here. We. Go!

After realizing this – I wanted to share it. I didn’t want to be alone…So, right there in the bathroom with the shower running, and the steam building up, fogging the mirror… I texted 2 friends “Here we go! My hair is falling out!”…

I took my shower and was very careful washing my hair. No pulling…No conditioner…After the shower I dried it carefully….like scrounged- squeezed it “with hope” (If you know what I mean?)  I didn’t do the usual ‘turban wrap’ around my head (what if all the hair would get stuck in the turban when I pull off the towel? Scary thought!) Then combed it with a wide tooth comb…Yes, more hair fell out but I still looked okay. I didn’t blow dry my hair…no, no. I was too scared of doing that. Thought all my hair would be pulled around the round brush…

I JUST WANTED MY HAIR TO STICK AROUND UNTIL AFTER MY SECOND CHEMO!

Why? I don’t know. I just had that in my mind. Period.

I pulled back my wet hair, and used a head band to keep it back.

I managed to keep my hair for a couple of days (until after my second chemo! Ha! Na na na na naaa na!)

But when you start looking like Yoda (Star Wars – minus the ears) it’s about time to do something! Really!

TIME TO SHAVE!

This entry was posted on May 26, 2014. 7 Comments

In the Boxing Ring – Round 2!

This time I got Chair number 10. Not that that matters, it’s just something that sticks to my mind. I feel good now! I feel calm and confident! I am a courageous, positive, loving, passionate, fearless woman – that’s my “mojo” for today’s treatment!

Round 2 – The head nurse, Debbie, greets us and is as wonderful as the last time! I really like her! I make myself comfortable and so does Jane. We have a few hours ahead of us…Debbie tells me my chemo is ordered and she’s sits down. She needs to hook the IV to my port. My port-opening have of course healed…or closed up. Interesting! It didn’t hurt that bad… (Ouch!) Just a burning sensation and that was it! Then she can hook me up to the anti-nausea bags and saline.

Jane is prepared for this session. She brought Mandala Art Coloring books for us to do. It was wonderful to sit and color these Mandala’s for hours. I picked one that made me feel like I was growing from the Center of the earth, and reaching outwards to the Universe. It’s very meditative, and your mind floats away…

Mandalas originally came from Hinduism and Buddhism. Long story short; the re-introduction to Mandalas in the Modern Western thought is owed to Carl Jung, The Swiss (not Swedish) psychoanalyst. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandala

Wake Up! You Chemo is here!

It’s the strangest feeling when you see the tubes of red liquid in 2 big syringes. Very surreal.

They have my name on them! MY NAME! (shit!)

My birth date and year! (double shit!)

I surrender!

Bring it on!

Debbie hooks me up to the Chemo and slowly, manually, injects it. Here it goes… (please read this SLOWLY!)…from the syringe through the tube and up to my port and into my body…I can’t feel it entering…but I can imagine the red liquid going through my veins, through my heart… liver… pancreas… kidneys… bladder… (OK! Unhook me! I have to pee! Drum rolls please…the pee is RED! )

OK. So I sound dramatic again…and I don’t really mean to sound so dramatic! The chemo kills the cancer, but it also makes me feel like shit! Good and bad! Or, good and tough shit! Or, be grateful and suck it up!

In all honesty – I give thanks to the chemo and the effect that it has on my cancer! This is a Journey back to Health!

My Journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on May 21, 2014. 9 Comments

In Preparation for Round 2!

I was a nervous wreck before my second chemo…I must say maybe even worse than the first time. I knew what was going to happen, and how hard it was the first time to keep the nausea at bay…

I signed in…I had my friend Jane with me. We were a little late (I was okay with that – yes, I was!) Then I got called into the Doctors office…That’s the routine. First I see the nurse. I have to weigh myself. They want to see if you lost any weight. The chemo concoction is measured according to your weight, and the Lab results. The chemo is mixed right then and there. Amazing! (Side note – If my wonderful neighbors continue to feed me like they do…I will most likely gain weight and maybe need heavier chemo! Oh No!)

The nurse takes my blood pressure, temp, and asks me some questions…the normal stuff.  Then the Doctor Enters… *I need some music here…Dramatic entrance like… DUN-DUN-DUUUUUUN*

It’s not really like she knew I had this “butterfly swarm” in my stomach…and she’s not very dramatic person at all…it’s just my interpretation of what I felt like before she came in…I wanted to turn away… But, she entered and she sat down…and I stayed!  She asked me how I was doing after the first Chemo and she said “you must have been doing pretty good, because I only heard from you once! (Yes, I called her once…I had a very important question…Not! And…I have to admit, I wanted to see if she would call me back, or if a nurse would call. Dr. Stone called shortly after and answered my suuuper important question) I did good, but had some really tough days…and it’s not like I’m going to call the Doctor when I feel super nauseated, dizzy, disconnected, constipated, chest pain, back pain, and just blaha…blaha…or??? Hm!

I told the Doc I was very scared this time, and she said she could see it in my face. She put her hand over mine and told me to talk to her…So I did. After I was done, Dr. Stone became this super motivational Speaker!  She told me what I should change in my diet, and she added a nausea (acid reducer) medicine.”Do this, do that…Give me an F! Give me an I! Give an L! Give me another I! Give me two P’s! Give me an A! What does that spell???? F I L I P P A!!! Woohoo!!!

Not really! But after her speech I felt 100% ready to go to “the chair”!

Story Continues…

 

This entry was posted on May 21, 2014. 2 Comments

First thing First…

Last Tuesday, May 13th, one of my very best friends flew in from the LA to stay with me (us) for one week! Jane (the Queen :o) and I have known each other for 24 years….as long as Brian and I have been married!

Jane is such a nurturer and down- to- earth woman….She was there for me after I had surgery in 2007 and nurtured me back to health…She has seen my good, bad and ugly side (for sure!)  She recently became an Art Therapist, and landed a fantastic job in LA…And while we were at Cleveland Clinic (for my second chemo treatment – more about that later) she got a job offer as an Art Therapist at the Oncology Department at CC!  WHAT?!? Seriously! I felt like I was the third wheel in Dr. Stone’s office ;o)…Dr. Stone and Jane totally forgot about ME! Hello – This is about me, me, me…LOL! Just kidding!)

Thanks My Queen, for being there for me and Brian. Thanks for your love, laughter, walking the dogs, long talks, art therapy stuff. Thanks for being a good listener, and thanks for shaving my head!

Much Love,

Princess

This entry was posted on May 21, 2014. 3 Comments