March 21, 2017

It's been awhile..

Where to start.. I apologize in advance for the length of the following post!

I have to admit my brain is a bit foggy when it comes to the events over the last few weeks.  Chemo brain is real - combine that with the various pain medications that I'm taking and time and events all seem to blur together.

I spend most of my days sleeping. However, I have finally returned to work.  My last day was February 6th.  I returned March 17th!  At first, I was told I'd probably want to take off during my brachytherapy (internal radiation) and that's exactly how it worked out.  There came a point when I just could no longer sit for any period of time and had to admit to myself that I needed to stay home.  I was in a lot of pain.  I had radiation burns on my bum and by the end of my external radiation I had even developed burns on my lower stomach.  Spending  any  time on the toilet was tear inducing.   I didn't want to eat or drink because that just meant a trip to the bathroom. 

Each trip to chemotherapy also turned into a blood transfusion. I believe I'm up to 8, by now.  At some point, my magnesium took a dive and I was also getting magnesium infusions.  My potassium was dropping and was put on a prescription supplement.  I was taking Vicodin and ibuprofen around the clock and I also had a narcotic pain patch on, at all times.

As far as brachytherapy went....  The first session was horrifying.  I was in so much pain.  I was put to sleep during the insertion and then woken up to complete the rest of treatment.  From the insertion I would go for a CT Scan.  It was through that test they could see the placement of the device and formulate the plan for the placement of radiation.  That time frame ranged from 1-3 hours.  Then, I was wheeled (in my hospital bed - I had to be flat on my back during the entire procedure) to the radiation room, and the radiation was placed for a period of about 12 mins,..then I was taken to recovery.  Some days in recovery, I was free to go within 30 mins or so.  Once, I was there for an extra 4 hours!!!  (my oxygen levels kept dipping too low)  Thankfully, each following session seemed to get easier.  They finally found a medication combo that helped keep the pain to a minimum and I was actually able to sleep during those 1-3 planning hours.

I completed treatment on March 16th!!  I wish I could say that everything is back to normal and I feel great!! But, that's just not reality.  Chemotherapy and Radiation does lasting damage to the body.  My cramping has returned, my stomach is so upset because of the ibuprofen, and my bladder and digestive tract may never return to "normal".  I am still dealing with bowel/bladder issues.  I do think they are improving, but it will take some serious time.  I'm still pretty exhausted all of the time. I mentioned returning to work - I make a point to only put in about 4-5 hours a day.  I'm wiped out by then and head home for a solid nap. 

I've been thrown into menopause because of treatment.  So far, the only complaint would be the hot flashes and intense night sweats.  Just miserable!  I'm so cold one minute and the next I'm a sweaty mess.

My white blood cells are still low so I have to be careful when I am around the public.  I definitely do not want to be around many germs!  Having said that, Saturday was the first time I attempted dinner out with my brother and sister-in-law, in months.  We also went for a Target run.  It felt great to be among the living again!!  After all that excitement, I fell asleep about 8pm and didn't wake up until about 9am Sunday morning.

The final verdict - as of the start of the 3rd brachytherapy I was told some amazing news!  The tumor originally measured 7cm.  At the beginning of brachytherapy they did a MRI and it showed the tumor had shrunk to about 4cm.  Right before the 3rd session they did another MRI and the tumor measured about 1cm.  YES!!!  I had 3 more brachytherapy procedures, so I can only hope and pray it's gone!!

I'm on the calendar for May 22nd for a followup PET scan to check to see how treatment worked.  Then, on the 23rd, I see my doctor for the results.  I'm trying to stay as positive as I can.  It's not always easy when I'm dealing with a particularly painful day.  But, during those times, I just take myself to bed for a nap.  Worrying won't change anything, but, a nap  will  improve my mood. :)

Thank you to everyone that has shown support for me during this time.  A wonderful group of women joined together to help me - emotionally, mentally, and even financially.  Women I've never even met sent me gift cards, uplifting greeting cards to keep my spirits up, ordered my beloved popcicles to ward off nausea and had them delivered to my house, and even money when I was struggling so much with not working and still having to pay the bills.  I can't say thank you, enough.  My nephew, woke up every Thursday to take me to brachytherapy.  And not just woke up..but woke up very early - we had to be there by 5:30 am!  He also made the drive to pick me up afterwards.  The Demon has stepped up beyond I ever imagined he would.  He would do all the dishes, make sure I was fed, make countless grocery runs - basically ran the house for the last 3 months.  My brother saved me from a broken sump pump.  It was spraying water everywhere and he ran right over to help fix it...more than once.  He went with me to some appointments as support when I was waiting for diagnoses and treatment.  And, my sister in law provided (and offered) rides to and from appointments as well.  She also has brought me back from my dreaded grey roots to my brown locks!

If you've stuck with me throughout this whole post - Thank you, too.  ♥

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