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I started chemo for breast cancer today. The outlook is pretty good, but it means 6 months of chemo and surgery – first 12 weeks will be a relatively new monoclonal antibody weekly plus another drug every third week – a 24-hour infusion pump. Mmmm. I had a port-a-cath inserted Monday, scary but will save lots of trouble – very pleased I had gone ahead and scheduled it once I found out I’d be getting an IV every week. My family practitioner, the surgeon she referred me to, and the oncologist are all women – smart and kind. The oncologist is especially smart, wonderful at explaining things, and nice to boot, with a tremendous sense of humor. (She was a Northwestern undergrad – her husband U of Chicago.) I’m afraid we were in stitches about the male plastic surgeon’s questions about the state of my nipples – I had had two biopsies, one suction very close to the nipple, the day before he saw me. They were kind of pink, but you would have thought he’s never seen one before. You had to have been there, I guess, but once I had called the radiology clinic and had the doctor there look at them and reassure me, it was hysterical. If I end up reconstructing, it will be with some other plastic surgeon.
Now that we’re into the treatment stage, past the diagnosis and prep, it’s getting a bit easier in some ways. Last week was tons of tests – they scanned my whole body six ways from Sunday with every dye available, I think. I had my hair cut back to its late 70s length and am told it is chic and makes me look ten years younger. If only I could have either my 70s face or a really nice weathered look – but the hair does look good – and I’d been thinking of cutting it anyway.
I find bits of the process fascinating, interesting, peculiar, frustrating – for example, I now want to reform the entire medical records/information system. If I have to hand-print my medical history on one more form, I’ll scream.
On the other hand, at some point Monday evening after the port insertion, I realized there was a peculiar lump on my right shoulder. I cautiously felt through the fabric of my muu-muu sleeve and then lifted ever so slowly – I had a snap attached to my skin! It was half a metal self-stick snap. Guess they had used it to hold something or other in place. What will they think of next. I’ve been thinking there might be some commercial application for some kind of fashion for under-30s – bits of cloth could just be attached in totally random ways to cover crucial spots.
The chemo is not bad so far – aside from the irritation of having a two-pound waist pack which whirs every two seconds – it says “buddy-uh-ump”, sort of, a low pitched growl – and the fact that right now chocolate has absolutely no taste – how cruel is that? – and the really weird compulsion to grind my teeth – this was during the prep for the chemo this a.m. – I asked a nurse and she said “they just gave you Benadryl, didn’t they? – most people get what they call restless legs, like on TV”. So I said, “So I have restless jaw syndrome?” “I’ll just put restless body on the chart,” she said. They ordered something to counteract that, but there was a lot of confusion from three different nurses, including Else, who is my oncologist’s nurse but was filling in in the chemo room today, and my having just taken a pain pill which made me less than rational. There were confused discussions, and it went away by itself before they gave me the stuff to counteract.
Now I’m wondering if the national epidemic of “Restless Leg Syndrome” that some pharmaceutical company is running a prescription cure commercial for is actually caused by a nation living on Benadryl because of the huge rise in allergies, which Robert just read an article about saying it may be caused in part by global warming, or at least higher CO2 levels, which make plants produce more pollen (and poison ivy more irritating poison – they did a study in the wild, with CO2 pumped in, honest.)
You would think painkillers would be sedative, but this seems to make me hyper… (Anyway, no vomiting, terrible fatigue or other things you hear about yet).
Sorry for the babbling – I always wanted to be Erma Bombeck since I read her at way too young and age…