Thursday, December 27, 2012

Half way done!

It's been a way busy month. I'm guessing that's why I ended up in the emergency room at 930pm on Christmas Eve. I woke up and had a temperature of 99.0, then I took my temperature around 3 or so at work and it was 100.2 (I have to call the doctor when my temperature gets to 100.5). I came home from work around 5:30 and took a nap. When I woke up I could feel my skin burning. I took my temperature again at 8:30 and it was 101.6. I was so upset when the doctor said I had to go to the ER. I didn't know if I'd be there for hours or days. It all depended on how my blood work looked. So my mom came and picked me up and off we went. Luckily they were able to use my port for blood draws and as my iv. They gave me Tylenol, ran my labs and I had a chest x-ray. Then I was discharged around 11:50. I was SO happy to be home for Christmas. I would have hated to miss Mackenzie and George opening their presents without me...which was the instructions I left for him when I left.

Backtracking a little bit...Mackenzie celebrated Christmas at daycare the week before Christmas. She got up when her name was called and walked right up to Santa, got her present and posed for a picture. I could not believe it. The last 2 years shes been scared to death of him. I think this year she really got that Santa is a person that brings gifts. What could be better?

I was a little concerned that I had a terrible hairline but then I realized that those are just bald spots. The top of my head is almost completely bald but I still have most of my shaved hair in the back still which doesn't make much sense to me. Its still pretty itchy so I'm ready for it to all fall out, and then grow back! 

I'm still loving my wig. I feel like a spy still. I also forget that my hair isn't red. And I still hate when people think its just dyed and colored. I usually tell them its not my hair if they know I have cancer, but if they don't I just say thank you if them compliment it. Its been pretty hard because I feel like I'm lying but I know not everyone really needs to know whats going on. If they think its my real hair than my wig is doing a great job!

I went to try on hats at Target and thought this hat was so cute until I realized that it had holes in it which would defeat the purpose of me wearing a hat! It was really cute though!

I finally received my free scarf from Good Wishes. They are a non-profit that sends you an scarf on their website that you want for free. Included with the scarf is a hand written note from each staff member. I thought that was so awesome because they really personalized it to you.
Besides my trip to the hospital on Christmas Eve, my Christmas was amazing. A lot of family time, great presents and delicious food. Watching Mackenzie open her presents and really believe in Santa is so fun. She is a great age for this season. I'm not sure she'll let use put the Christmas tree away but we'll try! 

I had my third out of six chemo treatments today. It went fine. My mom came with me. It seemed longer than my other treatments but I don't think it really was. They were really busy so my meds weren't always started the second the previous med was finished and beeped and that's fine. I don't have anything else to do on chemo Thursdays! I got a chance to talk to my chemo friends there. Its great to have them to ask questions or to answer questions. We all have had different paths and treatments so far. One has a similar treatment path as me and one is doing surgery after chemo. They are both 1 treatment ahead of me so they'll finish on my 5th treatment. It will be sad not to finish the same time as them but its been great to have them there. 

So far I've felt okay. My mom and I went to breakfast before then to lunch after. I came home and took my anti-nausea meds as well as Dayquil. Tonight I'll take more anti-nausea, Robitussin, my steroid, Claritin and my antibiotic. Thank God I have a pill organizer to keep my chemo brain straight. I'm not sure how having a cold is going to mix with chemo but as long as I have meds to counter act my side effects I should be fine. 

I'm so happy to be half way done!! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Round 2 recap

Chemo was Thursday and I've been holding up pretty good. I didn't lose my taste this time (yet) which was a bonus but I did have a few more stomach problems this time. But like last time it really wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The hardest part for me is that I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I feel fine so I sit around waiting for a terrible side effect to come. You never know if it will or not and its annoying. I wish like most prescriptions, you got the side effects you got, instead of wondering what this time will bring.

My main side effect this round came from my Neulasta shot that I get on Friday. I feel fine until my steroids wear off late Saturday into Sunday and then I'm in some pain. Its not unbearable. I only took Tylenol once yesterday but that was mostly stupidity on my part. I'm not sure why I'm SO against taking medication for my side effects but I'm trying to get over that. I slept horribly last night from the pain and just my stomach feeling uneasy. So I took Tylenol and my anti-nausea medication and then I worried that you aren't supposed to take them together!

The pain from the Neulasta is also more like an achy/ stiffness pain and not like sharp pain. Luckily with this medicine you know what your side effect is the first time. The pain seemed worse this round but I don't know if that's just because I recognized it sooner than I did the first round. Last round I thought I was just sore from lack of movement. I also took more anti-nausea medication this time. I took it at any hint of stomach discomfort just in case. Maybe by round 3 I'll get all my side effect medication down!

I think I'm recovering a little quicker from this round too. But I say that with an abundance of caution because I know that the effects of chemo are cumulative and I could have more side effects tomorrow. The joy of chemo is always the unknown! But I'm hoping that what my doctor said is true: the first few days are the hardest and then the days get easier and easier.

Wednesday/Thursday before chemo I felt like I've never had chemo before which is a great feeling. My treatments are perfectly timed for my life and my next round is 2 days after Christmas which is great. I'm glad that I should be feeling almost 100%. Plus the next couple of weeks are going to be so busy and I want to make Christmas as magical for Mackenzie as possible. She deserves to have Christmas be what every 2 year old thinks it is. So if that means I'm a little more tired than usual, so be it. Especially this year, we have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm still getting used to not having hair. I have phantom hair syndrome. I still reach for it to pick at split ends when I'm bored and I went to put it up tonight before I took a shower. I had to ask George how to wash your head when you don't have any hair. I'm glad I bought 2 in 1 shampoo after my mastectomy because I would feel so odd conditioning my bald head! Maybe I'm supposed to!

Friday, December 7, 2012

2 down

Wahoo! Only 4 more to go! My friend Beka was here from California and offered to come to treatment with me which was great! We had so much fun and laughed a ton. And laughter is the best medicine! We started out our day having a giant breakfast at the diner by my house then headed to chemo. It seemed like the pre-chemo drugs took a long time today or like we got to a slow start. But we were only there for about 3.5 hours which was faster than last time.

Funny story from chemo: as we were leaving I stopped by the front desk to see if I needed to do anything else and they said no. I turned around to leave and I heard one of them say "I love your hair" and I started to turn back around to say thank you" when I heard Beka say thank you and realized that I have no hair! Oops!

I also had to get a shot of Lupron which is supposed to "quiet" my ovaries during chemo. The shot is once a month just while I have chemo. It's pretty newly approved for this use but my fertility doctor said they've seen amazing results in other countries and the US is finally catching up. I thought Lupron was going to be like a daily pill and I don't know why I was so shocked when my nurse practitioner told me that it was a shot. Everything about fertility comes in shot form. But at least they do it and I don't have to have George give me anymore shots!

I took my anti-nausea just a couple hours after my treatment this time. I have a hard time trying to figure out if I'm really nauseous or I need to eat. But once you feel nauseous the last thing you want to do is eat. So I think for the next couple days I'm going to eat little meals/snacks all day and see how that makes me feel. I started using My Fitness Pal again mostly to track my eating after chemo but also so I don't keep eating like crap. I can't use the "I have cancer so I eat what I want" excuse forever. It will help me also see what foods I did well with and what foods to maybe avoid next treatment.

I just want to thank everyone for your continued support. The Meal Train website says dates usually fill up quick and they were right. There are only 2 days left at the end. I asked George last night if we could just keep the calendar going and see how long we could get delicious meals even when treatment is over! It's just so thoughtful and it's SO helpful! I can't imagine anyone having to go through this without as much support as I constantly feel. Texts, calls, emails are always welcome, especially when they aren't cancer related!

Today I've been feeling pretty good. I had my Neulasta shot which was less painful than last time. Michele and her husband Stuart brought us our dinner(s) and we visited for awhile then I went back to what I now call my "chemo coma". I woke up when George brought Mackenzie home. Sleeping feels so great! I ate lunch and dinner just fine but I think I'm starting to lose my taste which I was expecting. I bought children's mouthwash because mouthwash for adults was way too hard on my mouth last time. My tongue would burn when I would use it.

I saw my 2 chemo friends yesterday and they both said they did pretty good after their 2nd treatment (they are 1 ahead of me) so that was good to hear. One of them had a hard time after the first round and the other one had a pretty easy round. We'll see what they say about their round 3 next time!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The night before chemo (round 2)

Tomorrow is my second round of chemo. I'm a little more anxious for the second round because I don't know if my side effects are going to be the same or worse. My nurse practitioner told me today that I was a "chemo rock star" and that if your first round goes well usually the second round goes well too. Like I did last round, I'm going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

I know this time that my mouth is going to be sore and have some problems, including the loss of taste. But this time I'm going to try to eat/drink more cold things. I avoided them last time because the nurse told me if I can't taste then room temperature food would probably be best. And I am going to limit/avoid dairy because I think it made me feel really sick.

I'm hoping that I just have the same queasiness that I had last time and nothing worse. I hate the feeling of an uneasy stomach and I definitely hate throwing up. The fatigue was hard but I love to sleep so that's probably the best side effect.

Sunday I went with my mom out to lunch then to the wig store. I wore only my hat. We ended up getting the wig I tried on a couple weeks/months ago. I like it so much better than the first wig I got. This is the new wig. I love it!

This is what I looked like before the wig.

I'm loving the bald look. I thought I might love it but I wasn't sure if I was just trying to psych myself out. Its so easy! The first thing I do when I get home is take the wig off and let my head air out. It feels amazing! Mackenzie's getting used to my new look. I ask her if she wants to touch my hair and she says "you don't have hair!". I'm glad she is taking it so well. I think if I had a desk job where I only saw coworkers all day I would just wear a hat to work. But I'm getting used to the wig thing.

Sunday when I got home we decorated the house for Christmas. This month is going to fly by and I just didn't think there would be another good weekend to do it. Mackenzie is SO excited for Christmas this year! She loves to see the lights on peoples houses and we talk about Santa a lot and ask her what she wants this year (2 Cinderella's). I'm excited to see if she will actually go to see Santa this year or if she will still be too nervous to sit on his lap.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Goodbye hair

This week was emotionally hard for me. I spent a lot a time in front of the mirror crying. I just kept thinking ___ more days with my hair. I was seeing my hair as my entire identity. It wasn't until today when I was looking in the mirror, tearing up and I told myself  "you are not your hair". It sounds so stupid. But like I said before I've always identified myself as the red head. And right now I'm not that girl. But I know I'm still the same Kyle on the inside, with or without any hair.

Today, my friend Christy came over and she took some family pictures of us. Then we all loaded up into the car and drove to Zoe Salon in Fair Oaks Mall. Brandon led us back to the spa area and into a massage room where my hair cut would happen. I wasn't really sure how it was going to go but I told him that I wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love and I was happy that they send your hair off because some salons don't do it for you. He put my hair into 2 pigtails and cut them off. Just like that. I felt like Rapunzel at the end of Tangled (can you tell all we watch is Princess movies!). After that he just started shaving. No count down, no nothing. Just started buzzing away. I think it was good that there were no mirrors in the room. I think it went easier because I couldn't see myself the whole time.

So in front of my parents, George, Mackenzie, Kelly and Christy I shaved my head. It went faster and easier than I thought. After he shaved it, Brandon washed my head and then cut my bangs on my wig. I'm still not used to wearing the wig. I feel like people know I'm wearing a wig. I'm sure they don't but since I can feel it, I think people can see it. It will take awhile to get used to I'm sure. But I actually think I look pretty decent bald.

In the end, I'm really happy that I did this. 2 days ago I couldn't imagine how I was ever going to get through this but its been hard to watch my hair fall out. I was starting to dread having to brush it in the morning because I knew I'd lose a lot. The back of my head was starting to hurt because my head was so tender. I was pulling out so much hair any time I would touch my hair and it was just falling out on its own and was all over everything. I still have a ton all over all of my clothes.

So here it is, my in my wig and me au natural.

I'm not 100% sure about the wig but my mom and I are going tomorrow to look at some more. We'll see. 

This picture shows my natural part. I'm not sure if you can see it. Its a perfect center part. So funny! 

So that's it. No tears, no fuss. I did it and its over. I'm so ready for the end of February to be here so it can start growing back but for now its not as bad as I thought. My poor head is just freezing!