Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day 5: Home Free?

I went to bed last night after a short amount of time in the hot tub at my mom's house. I try to do everything I can do so that I don't have to take many pills since they all have side effects that are hard to handle. I had some hot chamomile tea in a Korean tea cup. I was so tired, but I had a tough time staying asleep because of my achy bones. I woke up several times in the night wishing it was morning already so I could just get up.

When I got up in the morning, I felt like I had a new lease on life. I knew that if I could just make it through last night I would wake up on the other side of the hill. Of course I felt much better, but I also thought I was superhuman and overdid myself a bit. By the end of the day I had also developed several mouth sores that were intensely painful! I swished with my Magic Mouthwash a couple of times before bed. I didn't take any pills the whole day except my daily Synthroid and Celexa. I'm feeling good.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 4: Feeling the Pain

Same as yesterday, but more intense. Dan's been giving me my pills. I'm not sure what I took because I can't remember what I asked for. My tummy hurts and I can't, uh, use the restroom. That's painful. I'm really, really dizzy. Probably the most dizzy I've been so far. I had a bad day emotionally too.

My mom came to pick me up to take care of me at her house. I got my stuff together and went to lock the door from the outside. I was so confused that I couldn't figure out which way to turn my key to get it to lock. I was just turning it left and right, back and forth, not understanding what was going on. I broke down crying because I was so frustrated. I feel like I have Alzheimer's Disease. It's almost over, though. Just a couple more days.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 3: Duh....

Ok, so yesterday was pretty fuzzy. I felt pretty terrible the whole day. I had major body aches and dizziness. I can't explain in detail (mostly because I'm so confused right now) so I'll summarize.

Dan now has to give me my pills and I'm not allowed to touch them without his assistance. I took my steroid and had to take a Lortab for my achy back and knees. It's like a deep, annoying, jittery ache. Feels like arthritis.

I had the worst night sleep so far. I kept waking up and wishing it was morning. My body hurt, I felt nauseated, my legs were jittery, I was grinding my jaw, and having bad dreams. If I can just make it through one more day...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 2: Feeling Fuzzy

On Tuesday, I woke up feeling pretty good. I took my thyroid medicine before eating, had my breakfast, fed Maja, then went for a walk with Maja in the Snugli. By the time I put her down for her first nap, I was tired. I took 1 Dexamethasone steroid at lunch. I meant to take it with breakfast but forgot. My plan was to take one with breakfast and one at around 3 p.m. so it didn't mess with my sleep.

I started feeling a little fuzzy around noon. When I get this way, I can't remember when I've taken pills or what I've taken or who I've talked to or any small details. I have to make sure someone is in charge of my pills so I don't take the wrong ones...that happened last time.

Before bedtime I took my Celexa anti-depressant, and a Lorazepam which is for anxiety. It helps me relax so I can get to sleep. I went to bed at around 11 p.m.

The day after chemo is usually a pretty easy day. Not bad.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 1: Chemo Day

I woke up at 7:45 a.m. to both kids already being up and mostly dressed, fed, and cleaned up by Dan. I ran in to take my Synthroid medication first thing for my thyroid. I take it daily. When Grandma June arrived to watch little Maja, we took Tristan to school and headed to the Cancer Institute.

When we checked in for our 9:30 a.m. appointment, there was a woman in the waiting room who said she was nervous since this was her first time. She seemed flustered. I gave her my name and number and a little hug. This sort of thing happens a lot at the Cancer Institute. For some reason, once you walk through those doors, even if you're shy or nervous yourself in the outside world, the patients are all family. They're the only people who really understand; the only people you can talk frankly to about when your hair will return.

I was called back to be weighed and had my temperature taken. There are like 20 la-z-boy chairs each enclosed by curtains that can be opened or closed for privacy. I sat in chair 8. There was a small chair for Dan next to me. We started taking some video of my nurse accessing my port which will be up by the end of the week. She took some blood and sent it off to be checked to make sure my counts were high enough to do chemo today. They were!! White blood cell count was 5 and we just had to surpass 3.

My nurse hung up the bag of pre-meds (mostly steroids) and plugged me in to start the drip. That took about 20 minutes. The pre-meds make me feel really weird and almost drunk. It's like I've had a glass of wine because I can't quite speak with the same cadence or pronunciation. Thinking slows down. Next she hooked me up to a bag of Saline to hydrate and flush me. All these fluids make me have to use the restroom about 3 times an hour. I think the Saline takes about 15 minutes or so, but I can't really remember.

Then they hook up the big glass bottle of Taxol, a chemotherapy drug made from the bark or needles of a Yew tree. This one takes the longest: somewhere around 3 or 4 hours. I usually bring my video iPod and watch TV pilots I download from iTunes. When I get too tired to watch, I take a nap. I was cold so the nurse brought me some heated blankets. So nice!! The weirdest part about it is my legs and feet start twitching about this time from the pre-meds. It's like that restless leg syndrome thing or something. The only thing that helps it is when my support giver (today it's Dan) rubs my feet and calves.

When the Taxol is finished, I get a quick flush of Saline again, then it's time for the next chemotherapy drug called Carboplatin. Carbo is a drug manufactured from Platinum. It's a much smaller amount that comes in a bag. It takes about an hour for that drip, I think. When it's over, they flush a bit more Saline in me. They remove the needle from my chest and put a small patch on my port. It was about 3 p.m. when I realized I was done. Holy SH!T, I'm done. I looked around and there was one other person left in the infusion area. All the nurses came over and gave me a neat little award with a star on it signed by them all to commemorate my being done with chemo. I was trying so hard not to cry. There's just so much emotion and I was not prepared. I felt like I was giving an acceptance speech, but I really just wanted them all to know how nice and sweet they all are, and how much they touch people's lives. What a tough job.

I galloped out of the office and into the elevator. As I took a step out of the elevator, I suddenly had a burst of tears. It was almost a feeling of freedom that was making me cry! The weather was nice and the wind was lightly blowing in my ear. I was so excited to be done. I got in the car, and removed my scarf. I still don't have hair, but I guess it was symbolic. In a daze, we drove home. Dan left me with Maja for a couple of minutes while he went to get Tristan from school. When we were alone, I looked at her and just started bawling. Now, this was a feeling I wasn't expecting. What I felt now, was this: I was FINALLY able to concentrate on being a mommy. I felt like I was holding her for the first time, and I was about to enjoy everything that babies do. Before, I felt like she had been given to me to help me through this cancer/chemo thing. I didn't like that feeling because no mom wants to depend on her child. It should be the other way around.

Tristan came home and said, "Did you have your last chemo today?" Wow, smart little bugger. We all went to the park and Tristan had his dinner there. I felt fine, as I always do the day of chemo. I'm usually just a little "fuzzy". We walked home with the kids in the double stroller. Tristan had a bath and Maja had a bottle. She went to bed, we read Tristan some books and put him to bed, and I just lounged on the couch.

I took my evening pill called Citalopram or Celexa which is an anti-depressant. It really makes a difference for me. Celexa helps with nausea, and I like to take it at bedtime because it also makes me sleepy. The day of chemo I am kind of buzzing from all the steroids and I have a tough time getting to sleep sometimes. I was so tired, but I knew I was going to have a problem sleeping. I also tend to have some issues with eating due to the nausea, but I hadn't had any nausea yet. Remember when I said I was going to be completely honest? Well, here it is and you may not like it, but this is what works for me. I (allegedly) ate a cookie made with Marijuana that comes from a lady in town who gives it away to cancer patients for free. It doesn't taste all that great, but it's better than smoking it. It helps to relax me and make my legs stop jittering. It's pretty calming and helps make me eat when I don't want to.

I headed off to bed and fell asleep pretty quickly which is strange for me the day of chemo. However, I woke up after about an hour with some achy bones. That's from the Carbo, I think. I wanted to get up and take a pain pill, or a Tylenol PM, but it must have got away enough for me to fall back asleep.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Whisper Walk for Ovarian Cancer

It turns out there is a walk for Ovarian Cancer in the Kansas City area. It is called the Whisper Walk for Ovarian Cancer and it will be held September 23, 2007 at Zona Rosa shopping center. To sign up, visit

For those who don't know, Ovarian Cancer is known as the disease that whispers because the symptoms can be misconstrued and the disease itself is hard to diagnose. Most people hear "Ovarian Cancer" and think death because it is typical that it is not diagnosed until the latter stages when there is a smaller survival rate.

However, there are some pretty consistent symptoms that, when experienced, should be investigated.

These include:
* Bloating
* Pelvic or abdominal pain
* Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
* Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

I've found that the most important advocate for your health is yourself, so if you are concerned about Ovarian Cancer, press for more testing until you are satisfied. In my case I had a bulging abdomen, (what I interpreted as) back pain, and extreme fatigue but I dismissed them as symptoms of pregnancy so I wasn't questioning anything. Bottom line: report any symptoms (whether they whisper or yell) to your doctor. If you think something is wrong, keep checking. You are your number one advocate!

The Last Lecture