Thursday, January 24, 2013

6 months

Yesterday marks 6 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Some days it feels like I've been battling this for years and other times it feels like days. The rawness of the diagnosis has worn off and I barely think about it anymore. I think mostly about chemo. It's like they're 2 separate things.

6 months ago when I got the call from my surgeon that I had cancer I wasn't that shocked. I knew from the second the nurse practitioner found the lump that it was cancer but its hard to hear those words nonetheless. I think the hardest part for me has been that this has thrown my whole life off of the course I planned ( I know the saying: If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans). But there's a lot of disappointment when what you want and what you get aren't matching up.

I think that I'm mentally in a much better place than I was 6 months ago even though I'm physically not. My body doesn't look like it used to and I'll always have scars but that doesn't bother me. This part has been hard with side effects of chemo but I'm glad that I'm done with the anxiety anticipation left me with. The first almost 2 months after my diagnosis was filled with a lot of appointments but no real work. Now I've had surgery, had a port put in, started chemo and then I'll have radiation.

The last 6 weeks have left me drained in every state possible. I've been sick aside from chemo and that's been really hard. You can feel the toll that those drugs take on your body when you get an illness that should clear up in a week, not turn into pneumonia. But the weird thing is that I thank God for those drugs everyday. And that I'm being treated in 2012/13 and not years ago.

This is a weird journey to be on. Things are put into a perspective that I never would have seen otherwise. I always think or wish that I'd never been diagnosed but then I remember that the cancer would have still been there and I'd be much worse off the longer I waited to see the doctor. But I'm really lucky I went when I did.

May is going to be my new favorite month. Treatments will be over and I hope to hear those words everyone with cancer hopes to hear: you're in remission. But May doesn't mean this journey is over. I think that's when the work will really begin. Finding ways to keep myself in remission and help others who have joined this journey too. Plus maybe a little vacation for my husband and I. I need to see the ocean and some sunshine!

Yesterday, since I was still feeling run down, I went back to my oncologist for blood work and then was told I needed a transfusion. I was kind of relieved. I didn't want a blood transfusion but to not even be able to get out of bed to go to the bathroom without being winded gets old fast. So I was admitted to Alexandria Hospital last night and was released this morning. I'm all ready feeling a lot better. I just have a cold that I have to shake still (come on new blood!! fight this cold!) and then I'll feel 100%. I haven't felt 100% in about 6 weeks and I'm ready to be a normal person again. I've hardly left my house, except to go to the doctor or hospital, since Christmas Eve. I haven't even been to Target! That's crazy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Hospital

This has been a pretty awful couple of weeks. I don't even really remember having chemo 3 weeks ago or having side effects. I was so sick that I'm not even sure it affected me this time.

I've had a cough for more than 3 weeks now. When I went to the hospital on Christmas Eve with a fever, I got a couple days of antibiotics but that was it. And I just kept coughing and coughing. Nothing helped. I kept a note in my phone with what medicine I took, at what time. Then once I started taking Dayquil I added in my temperature because it has acetaminophen in it and I didn't want to mask a fever.

New Years Eve my parents watched Mackenzie and George and I went to dinner at Mikes American Grill. I put on make up and my wig even though I felt like crap but I wanted to ring in the New Year feeling good. Some how I managed to stay up until midnight but right after that I went to bed. And I didn't move a lot from it for the next couple days.

On January 5th, I woke up and I knew I had a fever. My temp was 100.7 and then 100.9. I called the on call doctor and he sent me back to the emergency room to check my blood levels. Of course it was the same doctor that sent me to the emergency room on Christmas Eve. To be honest, I was a little relieved to be going back to the ER. I needed some relief. It sucks to be sick for 3 weeks straight with no relief at all. George was working so I dropped Mackenzie off at her friends house and my mom met me at the ER. I was the only person in the waiting room and went to triage for vitals then back to a room. The doctor came in before the nurse did which was unusual. They did blood tests and another chest X-Ray. The nurse came in and told me that they were putting me on 3 different antibiotics. The doctor then came in and told me that I had pneumonia.

I had a feeling that morning that I had pneumonia. Its the only thing that made sense since I was so sick for so long and couldn't stop coughing. I was sad that I had to be admitted but I hoped that all the antibiotics would finally help. I got a room on the oncology floor which was great. The nurse told me that I had been upped to FIVE antibiotics.

George stayed with me Saturday night which was pretty uneventful. Not a lot of sleep happens in the hospital because you are constantly woken up to get more meds or give blood.

Sunday my doctor Intern Tim came in and told me that he was concerned because I still had high fevers and a high heart rate. Later the told me that he wanted me to have an EKG to check my heart because of my heart rate and a CT scan to see if I had a pulmonary embolism. Way to freak me out. Of course there is no rush on any of these tests. You would think if they think I have a blood clot in my lungs that they would want to get the test done STAT but it was about another 2 hours before I had it done.

My EKG looked amazing (per Intern Tim) and a doctor from my Primary doctors showed up to talk about how I felt and give me the results of the my CT scan. After we talked for awhile she went to get the results and came back and told us (George and my mom were there) that I did in fact have pneumonia and NOT a pulmonary embolism. I've never been happier! Since the ER I had been told I could have pneumonia, respiratory airway disease, I didn't have pneumonia, I had a virus, or a pulmonary embolism. So you can imagine my relief to be told that I definitely had something (and it wasn't a PE).

Honestly, I was getting really frustrated on Sunday. Every time they would take my vitals I would pray that my temperature would be normal and it wasn't. So I would get the chills, they would give me Tylenol and then I would get really gross sweats. Its impossible to sleep with the sweats. It was terrible.

Anyway, my doctor told me that I could have vital pneumonia which would be a reason why all 5 antibiotics weren't really helping my illness OR we just haven't given the medications enough time to work yet since it had only been a little bit over 24 hours since I was admitted. After my EKG I was hooked up to a heart monitor and I was on IV fluids 24 hours.

Monday was a bad day emotionally. I planned on having Mackenzie's birthday party on the 12th (Saturday) but I was starting to realize that it probably wasn't going to happen since I could barely walk down the hall without being exhausted. I kept telling the doctors that I had to leave by Thursday for Mackenzie's birthday. I just was getting really frustrated that all this was happening and I felt like for once I should get a break. I mean come on, breast cancer at 28, bilateral mastectomy, 6 rounds of chemo AND radiation isn't I have to be admitted to the hospital with pneumonia AND its the week of my daughters birthday?

So Monday I cried a lot. Especially after I talked to Mackenzie on the phone. I just missed being home so much and then to hear Mackenzie talk about how I was at the doctor and I didn't feel good just hurt. Maybe it was also the lack of sleep catching up to me. I haven't slept through the night since I first got sick over 3 weeks ago. Then, like I said, you can't sleep in the hospital. On top of being awoken every hour or so for blood or medicine or breathing treatments (seriously breathing treatments at 2 am...every 6 hours) on Monday night there was a lady who had lost her mental function a couple rooms down and was yelling. Luckily I couldn't hear her all night but every time my door was opened I could.

Tuesday I was SO happy when my doctor said I could go home! I couldn't get dressed fast enough. Ironically, the day I was released was the same day 3 years ago that I was admitted when my water broke at 33 weeks.

This past week has still been pretty tough. I have zero stamina but its getting better everyday. I went to my doctor for a follow up last Friday and had another chest X-ray and my doctor couldn't believe how great it looked! I am still worried that they are going to push back my chemo but I haven't heard from my oncologist yet so I'm hoping its still on.

My cough is getting less and less and I don't really cough while I'm sleeping which helps me sleep almost through the night. NyQuil helps that too. The first couple nights I was home from the hospital I felt like I was still there and woke up every time I moved because I forgot that I didn't have an IV anymore. Whenever I have an IV, even in my port, I hold that thing with a death grip because I'm terrified of it coming out.

So now I just feel like a have a cold. My nose is runny and I still feel a lot of fatigue but I'm getting better. I'm hoping that after chemo I'll be able to sleep a lot like I usually do after chemo. After last chemo I had a lot of nausea but I think it was Robitussin and not the chemo. Robitussin does not work for me. I finally had to get the nurse to talk my doctor into giving me some Tussinex (the good stuff with some codine in it so I could sleep).

I'm looking forward to chemo this week. After this chemo I'll only have 2 more left!! I'm excited for February to get here because I have my last 2 chemo's and then I'll be done!