Sunday, February 24, 2008

Long Time, No Blog

Hey all!

Sorry it's been such a long time between blog posts. I've been feeling pretty crummy and haven't felt like even sitting at the computer. I'm feeling better, but I'm a week out from the hospital and still vomiting- even with a heavier dose of meds. We leave in a couple of hours for the airport and then we're off to Palm Springs. We've really been looking forward to this- sun, relaxation, fun, time together, swimming, etc. I think as soon as I step off the plane I'll feel a million times better. I hope.

I checked into the hospital for my final round of chemo on Valentine's Day. It wasn't the way I would have chosen to spend the day, but I was happy to get the chemo over with. I don't wish that treatment on anyone. It was rough and I'm happy to say, it's behind me and I can concentrate on a full recovery now. We did not get to meet with the gynecological oncologist like we were told, so hopefully we'll meet him as soon as we get back from our trip.

We didn't have Internet access in the hospital, so we couldn't post the latest plan. Here goes: We leave for a week. When we return, I'll have an MRI of my pelvis to check on the tumors and another PET Scan to check my whole body for metabolic activity. Hopefully it will show that there are no other tumors in my body. With the MRI and PET information, I will meet with the gyn-oncologist and get a surgery date within the next week or two. That's all we know for now.

Please continue to pray for us and this journey that we're on. My hope and prayer is that the MRI will show no tumors-that they've been destroyed- and that the gyn-oncologist will go in for exploratory laparascopic surgery to make sure they are gone. Oh yeah, and we pray that my female reproductive organs are alright too and won't affect us having children.

Thank-you for the cards and words of encouragement you continue to send. I very much enjoy and appreciate them. Have a wonderful week and we'll catch you on the flip side. Peace Out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Nothing says Valentines like being dropped off for a round of chemotherapy. I'm at work today, and Meredith is on her first day of the last round of VIP Chemo. This round we get to meet the gynecological oncologist (say that 3 times fast). Dr. Bernstein has set us up with someone who will come meet with us and talk about removing what is left of her pelvic tumors.

Only 1 week until my grandparents take us to Palm Springs. Yeah, sun in sight!

Friday, February 8, 2008

How My PICC Line Came to Be

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was a great blood giver. People would make comments like: "Oh, you've got good veins" or "Wow, it's really easy to get blood out of you." Chemotherapy, however, has damaged my veins. Now I get comments like: "You have tough skin," "I'm having a hard time finding any of your veins" and the worst, "Your blood just doesn't seem to want to come out." It's bad enough that when I get blood draws from my Power Port, the nurses usually need to me lie down and take many deep breaths just to get the blood to start coming.

Even though I have a Power Port in my right chest to administer my chemo drugs and for blood draws, every time I go in for chemo, I need a peripheral IV site too. This is because two of my drugs are not known to be compatible and are administered simultaneously. I hate getting IVs- they hurt. This time, I had four IV attempts in 4 days, partly because I had a trainee try one of them. I was not happy.

The other major issue, of course, in dealing with chemotherapy is my nausea. Since I was nauseated this last time constantly (just in varying degrees) from check-in to five days after I arrived back home, I needed constant meds. At one point in the hospital I told my nurse my nausea was getting worse again and asked for another dose of medication. A common request.

Well, she came back a while later with a syringe filled with the medication. I questioned her because every other time I had gotten the med, it was in pill form and it seemed to work well for me. She insisted this would be better because it would work faster. She put it in my IV site on my left forearm and it STUNG! She left and I rolled from side to side on my bed in pain, telling my mom that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. She made me call the nurse. I was trying to deal with the pain so I wouldn't have to have another IV put in, but she was right. This was too much and I was beginning to black out.

Ten minutes after I asked for the nurse to come back in due to a burning IV, someone came. Not my nurse, but a different one who flushed my IV and told me that sometimes that particular medication burns the veins. Great, thanks for that bit of information. Especially after I questioned the nurse in the first place.

The next day, I had an unusable IV site and the nurses decided I'd been poked enough, so they called in the big guns and had a PICC Line put in. Basically, I have a small hole in my arm about 4in. under my left armpit into a major vein. A small, wire-guided plastic tube is inserted into the hole. It is guided up under my armpit, halfway across my chest and down toward the top of my heart. It's guided by ultrasound, then they X-rayed me to make sure it was far enough above my heart that it wouldn't complicate things. When in place, the wire is pulled out and I'm left with 42cm. of tubing in my arm and chest. Then I have two "pigtails" that hang on my arm that medicine is administered through.

That is how my PICC Line came to be. I am told I'll have it for the next three to four weeks. But maybe less time for good behavior.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Superbowl - Game Time is Pain Time

It has been a few days since either of us has posted anything on the blog. We know that you read our entries because you care how we are doing and we appreciate that more than you will every know. That makes it very easy to talk about the good times and very hard to share the tough ones.

After a round of chemotherapy your white blood cell count falls to almost zero. This is called your neutropenic period and it last for 5-7 days. This leaves you wide open to any infection and if you are lucky enough to catch anything it will land you in the hospital. To help with this Dr. Bernstein's office gives you a Neulasta shot. This stimulates the marrow in your bones to produce white blood cells very fast and limits your neutropenic period to about 2 days. The downside is that your bones hurt.

Meredith started hurting during the Superbowl so we left early to go soak in Nathan's hot-tub. It helped temporarily, but when we got home she was in tears with pain. After a call to the on-call doctor, 3 doses of morphine, 4 doses of Ibuprofen, and 2 of Tylenol Meredith was still in pain. Wow. Nothing reminds you of how human you are than holding someone that you love and not be able to take away their pain. She finally fell asleep and the pain has been going away since then. Yesterday and today she has felt great and has had a great amount of energy (and spunk).

A few happy notes...
We spent Saturday morning in Molalla with my grandparents. When we left we stopped by Big Burger and got Meredith a giant soft-serve cone which she thoroughly enjoyed.AND
Meredith started packing today for a sunny get away to Palm Springs. The further into the medical process we get the more Meredith has wanted to get away from it all for a few days. So we are going to spend a week down south with the party crew (G&G Hall, Uncle Carl and Aunt Jean) ...and the blessings keep coming.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's Groundhog Day!

Hey all! Sorry I haven't bogged in a while. I have been feeling terrible. I've been almost constantly nauseated, even with my acupressure trick and my medication. The last couple of days I've been vomiting a lot and haven't felt like doing much of anything. Even most of today I was feeling queasy and toted my tub around with me in case I needed it. I haven't needed it thus far and I'm going to bed soon. I feel much better at the moment than I have since I checked into the hospital this last time. I checked in, vomited, and the nausea rarely let up until today.

You may have seen that Nick, his brother, Chris, Rusty and me all played in the snow. That was on MLK Day and we had a great time. Rusty was so cute in the snow. It was nice to get away and play for a little while, even though I spent most of the time in the car. I did hit the run a couple of times.

As is tradition, we went to Nick's parents' house tonight and watched "Groundhog Day." Oh, what fun we had. We know the movie like the back of our hands, but it seemed better this time. Here and there someone would say, "I've never noticed that before." We didn't see anything new, but it was the same old movie Nick and I have grown to love. By the way, I believe we have about six more weeks of winter. Sorry, Josh.

Enjoy the Superbowl tomorrow. Take the time to watch the game at least for a while. And while you're at it, give a holler to the underdogs, because we'll be screamin' for the Giants too.