Downie McDownerson

Bob left yesterday to go hunting.

I have not been sicker ftom the radiation since he left.  I am miserable.  Tired, grumpy, deflated, pooped out (quite literally) and at a limit I dicn’t think possible to reach.

I need to be done.

12 more treatments and ot feels like forever.

Sigh.

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

I had to go in this past Sunday for radiation because the radiation oncology department is closed for Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday this week for Turkey Day.  And I met with the doctor, again.  I had just met with him two days before.

This wasn’t my regular oncologist.  This one was just stepping in because mine wasn’t on duty until the afternoon.  But I had to discuss with him that I was having a lot (and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT) of bladder irritation.  I have to go all the freaking time, and then when I do go, it is a trickle.  Very frustrating to say the least.

So, first thing he says to me is, “Take Motrin.”

I can’t.  I have had gastric bypass.  Even small amounts of NSAIDs can cause the lining of my very small pouch to thin and I can get ulcers.

“Only for long term use.”

Um, no, even small doses cause the stomach lining to thin.

“Well, there isn’t anything else I can give you, so you should take the Motrin.”

Now I know for a fact that there are prescriptions he can give me.  I also know that if I had seen my regular radiation oncologist, I wouldn’t have had to go through all that because he already knows my surgical history.  I was frustrated and upset.  I’m drinking a ton of cranberry juice, and I called my bariatric surgeon’s office this morning (holy shit – my three year surgiversary passed last week and I totally missed it) and they approved 200mg of motrin twice a day – no more.  And if I get stomach distress, I’m to stop immediately.

But how can I tell if the stomach distress is from motrin or radiation?

And then I find out that my first internal radiation will be two days after Christmas. 

Sigh.  That means I’ll finish up internal radiation and chemo at the same time.  What I didn’t want to do.

I will have to do an all liquid diet the days before I have internal radiation, and do a bowel cleanse so they don’t radiate my bowels.  Which would suck.  Although the amount of gastro-intestinal distress I’m having now is bad enough.  Sigh.

I want this to be done now.  I’m trying so hard to be patient, but really, I’m tired of feeling like shit.

Come on March.

A Long Long Road to Recovery

I had a break down the other night.  Radiation has not been easy for me.  I’ve felt worse during radiation than I did during chemo, and that is saying a lot.  Tuesday, my husband drove all the way down to Baltimore to pick me up after treatment because I was just “done.”  Sick, tired, and emotionally spent.  So that night, I had a good old-fashioned big girl cry.   Bob is a real champ about it all, and he just held me while I sobbed.  I’m so ready to be “done.”

I have (as of today) now completed 9 of 25 external radiation treatments.  I met with the radiation oncologist yesterday who told me that more than likely, the constant nausea is because of the place they are radiating.  I’m having two areas radiated.  Both my upper waist, from just below my chest to my navel, and then the lower from the navel to pelvis.  This means that just about all of my internal organs (or the ones I have left) are being affected.  This has led to some rather unpleasant side effects – ones that I also experienced during chemo.  Let me tell you folks – I thought radiation was going to be easier than chemo, but I was so wrong about that.  At least with chemo, I knew I’d feel like crap for a week or so, and then I’d feel better.  Not so with the radiation.  I feel constantly like crap.  I’m trying really hard to keep a good attitude. 

My doctor has prescribed the zofran every 12 hours while I’m in radiation.  It has helped.  I still don’t have a huge appetite but I am able to eat.  The fatigue is horrible.  I want to sleep all the time.  Sadly, the radiation aggravates the number of hot flashes I have, so sleep is fitful.  I’d kill for one good night sleep.  I haven’t had one since August 21st.

The good news is that I have not yet started to get skin irritation.  That’s a plus.  The bad news, I’m still only two weeks in.

I find out next week when my internal radiation will be scheduled.  Next week, because of Thanksgiving, I only get one day off from radiation this weekend.  I have tomorrow off, then an appointment on Sunday.  I have four days off in a row next weekend though, and I’m looking forward to them.  A little rest for the weary.

I was warned about depression during radiation.  My radiation oncologist does not believe that is the case, but does feel I’m getting hit twice as hard by the physical side effects which is what is leading to my general down feeling.  I tend to agree with him.  For now.

So, keep me in your thoughts and prayers.  Each day is a day closer to being done treatment.  I honestly never thought it would feel like the end is never coming, but today, that is sure how it feels.

Catch Up

I know I didn’t update last week, and I had a lot going on.

I went back to work on the 5th and it really took quite a bit out of me.  I didn’t realize how exhausted I was going to be.  And it was hard.  And I realize that working full time while still going through treatments might not have been the best thing for me.  Because I was draaaaaging.

I also began radiation last Tuesday.  That was an adventure in and of itself.  I went in for my 12noon appointment, fully aware that the appointment was not only going to include my first radiation treatment, but also my dry run, so they would know exactly where and how to radiate.  I got to the appointment on time, and by 12:20 they hadn’t called me back.  Turns out they mixed up my appointment and didn’t have me in the system until 12:45.  Then, when I finally get called back, and I’m on the table, about 20 minutes in, the fire alarm goes off.

Seriously?  There’s a fire drill.  And we have to go to the “safe corridor.”  And I’m dressed in nothing but my socks and a hospital gown.

WELL, hello everyone.

You know, so many people now have seen my “intimate parts” they might as well post them on a bill board on interstate 95.

So, half an hour later, they finally get my radiation started.  I finally get back to work at 3:30. My day didn’t start so great that day either – first day back on the train, only the train was cancelled.  I had my husband pick me up and give me the car so I could drive to the bus, and the bus was late.  I ended up having to drive in that day.

So, now I have five (counting today) radiation appointments under my belt.  So far, I’m just really really really tired.  Radiation takes at least 45 minutes each time I go.  It takes them at least 20 minutes to line me up right, and then the rest of the time to nuke me.  They have two separate areas to radiate – a lower and an upper.  At least I can take a nap while they are doing it.

After last Friday’s appointment, I met with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Sharma.  He asked if I had any side effects yet, and I told him I was mostly just tired.  He told me that would only get worse, and the fatigue I was feeling had more to do with the fact that I was only two weeks out from Chemo and I had gone back to work full time.  He said the fatigue from the radiation will hit later in my treatments.  I can also look forward to burning (they will give me silver nitrate for that).  The diarrhea started over the weekend, but hasn’t been too horrible.  I’ve spent the past two months constipated from the chemo, so honestly, it wasn’t bad at all.

The worst part has honestly been what the treatment has done to my arthritis.  This is actually a long term side-effect of the chemo.  I had a de novo graft implementation in my right knee last year – human cartiledge that was grown from stem-cells.  It was supposed to hold off a knee replacement for me for 15 years.  Problem is, those cells take 18 months to fill in, and are “rapidly reproducing cells.”  Well, chemo kills rapidly reproducing cells.  And they have torched my knee.  Swollen, very sore, and very painful.  And the rest of my joints are so sore and by the end of the day I seriously just want to cry.

But as of today, I’m 20% through my external radiation.  20% of my way to “ringing the bell.”  I’ll post a picture of that when it happens – it does have meaning.

I can’t wait to be done with this whole mess.

Getting Ready to Start Phase 3

I consider Phase I my hysterectomy.

And it was no fun.

Phase II – the first three cycles of chemo.

A whole lot less fun.  A. Whole. Lot. Less.

Phase III?

Radiation, and adding a bit of normalcy back to my routine.  Tomorrow, I go back to work.  Tuesday, I start radiation.  Which will be a whole lot less miserable than chemo.  Except for when I have the Braecheotherapy (internal radiation – which will be Not. Much. Fun.)

I’m ready to go back to work.  I’m ready to add a little routine and consistency from my LBC (Life Before Cancer).  I am treating today as a normal Sunday – scurrying around, getting things ready for the work week.  I’m planning our weekly meals (tomorrow is crockpot chicken casserole), I’m baking our weekly supply of bread (and some rolls to put in the freezer for Thanksgiving), I’m packing my work bag, planning what I will wear, getting together a week’s worth of pills and supplements, getting ready to pack lunch.

It feels good to feel a bit normal.

I’m sure work will wear me out.  It wore me out before my surgery.  Of course, I had cancer then and didn’t know it, which explains why for a year I was in pain, not feeling myself, and then there was that whole month of July when we thought I had some unknown virus and in reality the cancer was taking over my lymph nodes.  I know radiation will wear on me – fatigue is a side effect – and so will work.  But I want that kind of fatigue.  The fatigue I have felt the past two months has been a yucky kind – from worry and chemo and having days full of nothing but thinking about cancer.

I did make a decision though – I will no longer be pushing myself at work to get to that next level.  I think for now I am just ready to get up, go to work, and come home.  A job is a job.  I have a steady paycheck and insurance.  Moving up in the company is no longer one of those big goals.  My goals now are to live life.  And exhausting myself at work is going to stand in my way.

So, come on normal.  I’m waiting for you to start.  Of course, what we all know and haven’t said out loud is that my normal will be a new normal.  My new normal involves living with a battle against cancer.  Not just now, but always.  But I’m going to make that just a part of my normal.  Living life, well, that’s going to be the bigger part.

Re-Mapping and a WTF Moment in Time

When I went in on the 22nd for my last round of chemo, I also saw the radiation oncologist for my mapping.

Mapping for Radiation is a painless process, but you do have to have a CT Scan, which means drinking contrast.  Additionally, contrast is placed internally so the doctor can see where things end, to concentrate the radiation most effectively.

Yesterday, I got a call from my radiation oncologist’s office – he wasn’t happy with my pictures.  I guess my vagina wasn’t showing her “best side.”  LOL  So, now, we have to go back to Baltimore today to get “re-mapped.”

It also means that the stickers he placed on me last time will have to be moved.

I don’t mind the process, but I’ve drunk enough contrast this year that I’m amazed my veins don’t light up.  And the trip to Baltimore is tiring.  I’m used to being able to do it on the train (which I will be doing when I go back to work next week).  But, I’ll do just about anything at this point to claw my way to the point where I’m done treatments.

Also, Rednecks in Walmart make me L-O-L.

This morning, I had to go to Walmart to pick up the litter sifting bags that we use in the cat boxes.  They make clean up so much easier than scooping, and although I totally HATE Walmart, they are the only place in town (including the Tractor Supply Store) that carries these freaking liners.  So, off I went, early in the am, before Walmart gets cray-cray.  I get my liners, a box of carpet deodorizer (it’s only a buck at Walmart), a bag of onions (I forgot them yesterday at the store) and a box of Smart Ones breakfast sammies.  I get in line behind what can only be described as Redneck Santa and his CousinSisterWife because Walmart only has one open lane in the am and I refuse to use the self-check out.  This is the conversation that ensued:

REDNECK:  So, I betcha that haircut is nice and cool in the summer.  Ya got CANCER or sumpin?

Me:  Yes, I do.

REDNECK:  Where ya got it? …

Me:  Endometrial Cancer
REDNECK’S COUSINSISTERWIFE:  Is that up the ass?
Me:  No – it’s uterine cancer – in the womb.
REDNECK’S COUSINSISTERWIFE:  Ain’t your womb up the ass?
Me:  *blink*
REDNECK:  Are you going to die?
Me:  Not in the next 15 minutes.
Now, I fully realize that people are genuinely curious when a bald woman gets in line behind them at the Wally World.  And I don’t mind answering questions, although it’s not like I have cancer in a discrete area – I mean, there are only so many ways you can talk about the female parts without getting either graphic or gross.  I kind of figured however, that a woman might know where her uterus was.  Silly me.  I wasn’t offended or anything.  And they both told me they would keep me in their prayers.  I can take all of those I can get.